Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Unusual Shots - Ants with Cicada Wing

On a survey visit to Occoneechee State Park in Virginia, I discovered these ants working together to lift this cicada wing up the side of a tree. It is always exciting to capture images that demonstrate a behavior or behaviors unique to a family of organisms. Most of us have heard of the ability of ants to carry an estimated 10 to 50 times their body weight. Additionally, these photographs provide a limited, but still effective example of the social aspect, the tendency to work together, of these fascinating insects.

I took what turned out to be a series of images that illustrate how the ants worked together, often having to turn, flip, or otherwise adjust the wing in order to raise it to their destination. Two or three times, while I watched, one ant would hold the weight of wing on its own while the other let go and found better purchase. I also witnessed other ants, presumably of the social group, that passed the pair going up or down the tree but all left just these two to their task.

From a photographer's point of view, I try to use my longer lens to capture such behaviors. While I would probably have gotten finer images using a lens with a shorter focal length, I do not want influence the action by getting to close. I want to be an observer of, and not a variable in, the behavior.

1 comment:

techbulldog1 said...

I liked the picture of the ants carrying a cicada's wing. From far away I thought it looked like a real cicada. I wonder why the ants wanted the wing anyway, don't you?