National Geographic photographers can find themselves in all kinds of strange and uncomfortable situations while on assignment and hunting for the perfect shots. Just check out what Nat Geo photographer Thomas Peschak is up to in Africa’s Kalahari Desert.
Here’s a short video Peschak posted to his Instagram earlier this month — be warned, though… if you’re not a fan of creepy crawly things, this clip may make your skin crawl:
The Kalahari Desert spans 350,000 square miles (900,000 square kilometers) in Southern Africa and covers much of Botswana and some of Namibia and South Africa. The semi-arid sandy savannah has been getting hotter and drier in recent times due to climate change. There has been a major drought over the past several years, but the region was just slammed by a huge amount of rain, which causes an explosion of life and activity.
“After 7 years of drought the 2021 rainy season has been spectacular, with double the annual rainfall occurring in just the last few months,” Peschak writes. “If you ask me, maybe a bit too spectacular…”
Among the crazy things you may encounter as a result of the rainfall are katydids, or bush crickets. The area is simply teeming with them.
“[P]opulations of armoured katydids have exploded to impressive numbers,” the photographer continues. “Anything left on the ground from camera bags to hats and sun glasses is quickly overwhelmed by these opportunists.”
The armored katydid (Acanthoplus discoidalis) typically grows to a length of 1.95 inches (5cm) and it has an armored exoskeleton with sharp, cone-shaped spines. It will inflict a painful bite on humans if threatened, and its powerful jaws are strong enough to draw blood.
Peschak is currently collaborating with scientists from the Tswalu Foundation on a story about how climate change is impacting the biodiversity of the Kalahari Desert’s arid ecosystem.”
Image credits: Still frames from video by Otto Whitehead (@ottowhitehead)