There are many strange and wondrous pairings in nature, yet perhaps none is so surprising as that of insects befriending or hitching a ride with the reptiles that are often their predators.
This image was taken in Copenhagen Zoo. As photographer Thomas puts it, “I am pretty certain that the guy on top is supposed to be lunch, but he seems oddly ignorant of the fact.” We agree, and besides, it can't be easy for such a short-legged creature to catch a lunch that's sitting on its head. We bet the lizard is seething inside!
This is an amazing capture of a chameleon with a caterpillar on its head. Even the colors match! Hopefully, the caterpillar was aware that if it continued its stroll any closer to the chameleon’s mouth it would be in trouble. Although its bright coloring suggests it might be a toxic meal for its (rather dopey) predator, hickory horned devil caterpillars like this one are actually not known to be poisonous. Good news for the chameleon – if it can get its act together!
While this scene may closely resemble a rider and his horse, we're not so sure this is the safest way for a damselfly to hitch a ride!
Dice snake like this one feed almost exclusively on fish, supplementing this diet with the odd frog or toad. In light of this, this fly hitching a handy ride probably doesn't have a lot to worry about. Whether the snake will admire the fly's audacity as much as we do is another matter, though.
We admire this little ant for its inquiring spirit and sense of adventure. Peering up this garter snake's nostrils, however, may be getting a bit too close! Also, one of the ant's feet appears to be right on the eyeball of the snake, which in turn must be cursing Mother Nature for creating it without eyelids.
This photo of a cricket sat atop the head of a bearded dragon is truly striking. Sadly, crickets are a popular food choice among bearded dragons, so this one is unlikely to last long. While it may feel safe on its current perch, the cricket has to come down sooner or later – by which time the lizard's stoic perseverance will have paid off.
Adult alligators aren't known for eating insects regularly; they prefer meatier prey. Still, if we were this dragonfly, we're not sure we'd trust this shifty-looking gator not to gobble us down as an appetizer.
The cricket here really is taking its life in its hands. Agama lizards are mainly insectivores so would doubtless love to snack on a nice crunchy cricket. Perhaps the lizard pictured here has already eaten, so isn't too concerned about the cricket on its head. On the other hand, the furtive look in its eye suggests its plans for little Jiminy go further than just using him as a makeshift hat...
The ladybug in this image is not necessarily safe. While garter snakes tend to feed on frogs, fish, worms and leeches, they have been known to eat insects too. However, the fact that ladybugs can emit a terrible odor, designed to put off predators, means that this little fellow may escape being on the lunch menu.
Cute as it is, this baby alligator is a predator and, at this young age, is still feasting on insects – something which this cheeky fly could do with learning. If you ask us, the winged one definitely could have chosen a better place to rest!
The banded water snake here must have been a little surprised when the ant just crawled up its back and onto its head. Says photographer Susan: “I thought surely there would be some action. The ant simply paused, took in the view at the top, wisely turned around, and went back down the way he came without the snake sticking out his tongue even once.”
These crickets are admirable for their nonchalance – treating the lizard's head as they would a plant or branch. The lizard seems pretty unperturbed as well! However, given that some lizards will happily eat insects, we suspect things won't stay so calm if one of the gang accidentally slips down towards the reptile's mouth...