Insect Communication

This week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge is on the topic of communication. As you’d expect from me, I’ve gone with nature and small things…

Bees perform dances to tell other bees where the best food is. While I don’t have photos of bees dancing, I do have plenty of photos of bees doing other things!

Honeybee on Osteospermum
Perhaps another Honeybee did a dance, so this one knew to come visit this Osteospermum flower
This bee clearly knows what flowers to visit, look at the size of those pollen sacs! Perhaps on return to the hive it will tell the others where it has been
Honey bee
The pollen sacs end up different colours depending on what flowers the bee has been visiting

Hoverflies don’t have pollen sacs, but it’s still possible to communicate where they’ve been. This one has a lot of pink pollen around her face, so even if she wasn’t still sat on a Scabious flower, it wouldn’t be hard to work out where she’d been!

Hoverfly on Scabious

Some insects use the sense of smell to communicate. Females give off pheromones which the males detect, so that they can find the female and mate.

Emperor Moth Caterpillar
The Emperor Moth uses pheromones, and this the result – a very large caterpillar that will grow up to be an impressive moth (sadly no photos of them!)

Grasshoppers use sound to communicate. The chirping sound they make is one of the things that says ‘summertime’ to me. I enjoy trying to find out where the sound is coming from and getting a photo before they hop away!

Legs, up, ready to chirp
Often they’re hard to spot, but not this one! Chirping proudly from on top of a developing blackberry fruit!
This is more likely the shot you’ll get, or just some empty grass as he hops off as you press the button!

Damselflies communicate with females by basically showing off! They swoop about showing off their lovely colours and their flying prowess, and hover by the females to make sure they’ve seen. The female then communicates back by sticking around or flying away. The males communicate quite vigorously with each other too, saying ‘this is my patch, go away’ pretty clearly! Their colours also communicate who’s who, generally the brighter, more eye-catching ones are the males.

If a female damselfly approves of a male, they move on to the next stage …

Mating Azure Damselflies
Azure Damselflies
Beautiful Demoiselles mating
Beautiful Demoiselles
Common Blue Damseflies
Common Blue Damselflies

Dragonflies behave in much the same way as Damsels. The males defend their territories and show off to the females, hoping for their approval.

Southern Hawker dragonfly
Southern Hawker patrolling his territory
Black Darter dragonflies mating
Black Darters, having met with each other’s approval
Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Look at me, aren’t I splendid! I would make an excellent father!

Hope you’ve enjoyed a little delve into the world of insect communication 🙂 All in all, it would seem insect communication is a lot more straightforward than human communication!

By Suzy Shipman

I like to take photos and write words ...


  1. Hello Suzy Human, Thanks for responding to my communication challenge. Ma Leueen showed me your photos. I have to admit I am nervous of bees as I do not like to get stung. The other little creatures are very interesting. 🐴

    Liked by 1 person

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