Hairy Wood Ants (Formica lugubris) photographic project
Over the last few years I been involved working on a project around county Tipperary,Ireland involving photographing nests of Irish Wood Ants (Formica lugubris), this has been one of the most interesting photo project I have ever worked on.
The images in this post are captured between 2014 and 2017 ….
These Ants are on the international endangered species list and exist in locations that are kept reasonably private, just to find and get to see these nests themselves is a task and an amazing feeling.
When you get closer to the nests for the first time you will notice just how large they are (3 feet off the ground) and how many Ants that each colony contains, each nest can hold tens of thousands of Ants, the entire surface of the nest is on the move with Ants coming and going from small entrance holes. This flow of movement is 24 hours long during the months that the Ants are active.
They create a clear trail through the woods as they clear a path, traveling both outwards from the nest and returning again with food for the Queen Ant living deep in the ground under the nest itself.
It is thought she lives in a protected area some two meters underground.
In order to protect themselves and nest with its queen, they can shoot out acid some four feet from their bodies.
I will be working on this project most of this summer and look forward to each return, watching these wonderful Wood Ants is an amazing experience and working around them with a camera is great fun.
In the Garden at eight am
I witness the end of Springtime
flowers of green, blue and purple
falling all over the table top
I place my cup of tea down
a moment frozen, soon moves on
as more of these blooms fall all around me
soon it will be summer time
clearly the flowers know, against all hope !
time moves on
never pausing for anyone ……
Hover Flies, such as the this one above, look at the world in quite a different way than humans do. The structure and function of a flies eye are completely different from ours, and so they see shapes, motion and color differently. Flies are also able to see light in a way humans cannot.
Structure of a Compound Eye
Compound eyes are made up of thousands of individual visual receptors, called ommatidia. Each ommatidium is a functioning eye in itself, and thousands of them together create a broad field of vision for the fly. Each ommatidium is a long, thin structure, with the lens on the outer surface of the eye, tapering to a nerve at the eye’s base. When the ommatidium receives light, it is filtered through the lens, then a crystalline cone structure, pigment cells and visual cells. Every ommatidium has its own nerve fiber connecting to the optic nerve, which relays information to the flies brain.
Flies Can’t Focus
A human’s eye is attached to muscles that allow it to move, expanding the field of vision and making it possible for the eye to gather more information about its surroundings. Instead of moving their eyes, flies receive information from several different points simultaneously. A flies eyes are immobile, but because of their spherical shape and protrusion from the flies head they give the fly an almost 360-degree view of the world. In a human eye, the pupil controls how much light comes into it, which is focused by the lens onto the retina. The retina then relays information to the brain via the optic nerve. Because fly eyes have no pupils they cannot control how much light enters the eye. With no control over how much light passes through the lens, the fly cannot focus the image it sees. Flies are also short-sighted — a visible range of a few yards is considered good for an insect.
The Mosaic Effect
The best analogy to describe a flies vision is to compare it to a mosaic — thousands of tiny images convalesce, and together represent one visual image. Each one of these pictures represents information from the fly’s individual ommatidium. The effect is much like how we see stippling or newspaper print — up close the image is a lot of tiny dots, but take a step back and it’s a complete image. The more ommatidia a compound eye contains, the clearer the image it creates.
There’s a reason why flies are especially jumpy creatures that take off at the slightest flinch. A flies vision is nowhere near as clear or effective as a human’s, but it’s especially good at picking up form and movement. As an object moves across the fly’s field of view the ommatidia fire and stop firing. This is called a flicker effect. It’s similar to how a scrolling marquis works — with lights turning on and off to give the illusion of motion. Because a fly can easily see motion and form, but not necessarily what the large moving object is, they are quick to flee, even if the moving object is harmless.
Flies have limited color vision. Each color has its own wave frequency, but flies have only two kinds of color receptor cells. This means they have trouble distinguishing between colors, for instance discerning between yellow and white. Insects cannot see the color red, which is the lowest color frequency humans can see. However, houseflies have the ability to see polarized light, but humans cannot differentiate between polarized and unpolarized light. Polarized light is light in which the waves travel only in one plane.
Dolycoris baccarum Hairy Shieldbug
A large and distinctive purple-brown and greenish shieldbug which is covered with long hairs. The antennae and connexivum are banded black and white. During the winter, the ground colour becomes uniformly dull brown.
This bug overwinters as an adult, emerging in the spring. Larvae, which are also hairy, may be found on numerous plants, particularly those in the Roasaceae. The new generation is complete from August onwards.
Common and widepsread in many habitats throughout Britain, particularly hedgerows and woodland edges, becoming scarcer and mainly coastal in the north.
Adult: All year
Length 11-12 mm
By Jane Taylor
Down in a green and shady bed,
A modest violet grew,
Its stalk was bent, it hung its head,
As if to hide from view.
And yet it was a lovely flower,
Its colours bright and fair;
It might have graced a rosy bower,
Instead of hiding there,
Yet there it was content to bloom,
In modest tints arrayed;
And there diffused its sweet perfume,
Within the silent shade.
Then let me to the valley go,
This pretty flower to see;
That I may also learn to grow
In sweet humility.
Taken at Lunchtime today, this Spider was hiding in the hollow of a garden tree. I am not sure what kind of spider she is but am going through lots of websites and wildlife books I have.
At the moment I am keeping my Macro lens on my Camera all the time, I am missing taking some more general landscape images but truly enjoying spending sometime getting much closer to the nature that I find at home or very close to home. Macro photography is not easy and a true skill, so the more macro’s I find myself taking the more confident I am feeling in this area 🙂