08 June 2012


In the forest today there was a lot of insect activity. Most of it by wasplike creatures that failed to tickle my curiosity much. Until I noticed that there must be something going on. There seemed to be too many individuals together to be just synchronous hatching. On closer inspection they looked like ants, but no species I had encountered before, I thought. 
In one patch of activitiy I noticed maybe 30-40, all-black insects. Not a swarm; more like individuals converging on a point of common interest. And once I found this point of interest, the coin dropped in my sluggsish (just for the day, right?) brain. What I found was a winged queen of Red Wood-ant (Formica rufa). They were indeed swarming. What I thought to be an unfamiliar species was the seldom seen drones.
Their courtship was a little too fast-paced for me to capture, but at least I got a sharp picture of her highness and one of her suitors. And a nice nature experience.

Both shots were made with Pentax K-5, DFA 100m f/2.8 Macro WR, and a Metz 24 AF-1 flash with a home made diffuser. Exposure was 1/180s, f/8 and ISO 400.