Oecophylla weaver ants are exceptionally cooperative subjects for photography, allowing for plenty of experimentation with lighting while the ants preen and pose. While developing the photographs from South Africa I discovered that strong backlighting allows a crystal-clear view of the tracheal system:
Oecophylla longinoda, St. Lucia, KZN, South Africa
The tracheae are visible as dark canals running through the body. These connect to the outside air in a series of circular spiracles and are essentially the lungs of the insect, channeling oxygen to the respiring cells and carrying away carbon dioxide. I never though I’d photograph them in a living insect.
photo details: Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon 20D
ISO 100, f/11, 1/250 sec
backlight with handheld strobe, 60% crop in PS.