Storytime 18

unidnetified red ant scrambling to conceal pupae
I went for a long time without anything to post, no new photos or anything, and now I have several hundred to choose from and not enough time to do anything about it. We’ll see how I fare in the next week, but it’s not looking too promising. In the meantime, we’ll do a brief Storytime post this week with a difficult capture from years ago. Turning over a rock in the yard, I revealed a significant ant nursery – these were smaller red ants, fairly common in the immediate area, harmless to people, but that’s all I can provide for identification right now. Maybe Mr Bugg will jump in with a distinct ID.

As usual, the adult workers scrambled to find someplace to conceal the hundreds of pupae that had been exposed, while I endeavored to capture this in some kind of detail. This, I should tell you, is an exercise in near-futility, for the very simple reason that ants are remarkably quick little arthropods, and move about seemingly at random – tracking them at macro magnifications and keeping them in focus is unbelievably difficult, so mostly you just pick a spot and focus and attempt to capture anything that ventures into that range. Generally, you have a fraction of a second to do so. Notice that the region of sharp focus is perhaps the width of the ant itself; in this frame, you can see the abdomen starting to get fuzzy from falling out of that range.

I was hoping for a sharp shot of one carrying away a pupa, but it was not to be within this session. Not only would focus have to be bang on, the view would pretty much have to be directly from the side, full profile as I have above, in the mere seconds before the worker made off with the pupa to a safer location. Too, it had to occur when the flash was fully-charged and ready, so after each attempt there was a period of several seconds before I could try again. The result was, I have a couple of shots from a bad perspective, but not what I wanted.

Nonetheless, there remains a great selection of pupae in varying amounts of detail, and the focus on the worker ant is pretty sharp, sharp enough to show the stippling texture of the exoskeleton itself. While not exactly what I was trying for this session, I certainly feel comfortable with keeping it.