The Best of Myrmecos 2009

Earlier I listed my pick of the best insect photos of the year taken by other photographers. Now it’s my turn. In 2009, I snapped 8000 exposures to produce 805 processed, saleable images of live insects. Below are my favorites.

A parasitic Pseudacteon fly targets a fire ant in Argentina

Male size variation in Onthophagus dung beetles

Aphaenogaster ants are tempted by the elaiosome of a bloodroot seed, Illinois

Eastern treehole mosquito larvae, Illinois

Trophallaxis in wood ants, Wisconsin

Face to face with a giant water bug, Illinois

male and female northern walking sticks, Illinois

metamorphosis in a twig ant, Florida

A miniature trap-jaw ant forages in the leaf litter, Florida

A volley of debris hurled by an ant lion traps a carpenter ant, Florida

The tip of the trap-jaw ant's trap, Argentina


  1. #1 Andrew N
    December 28, 2009

    Trophallaxis ahaha.

  2. #2 Rick Lieder
    December 28, 2009

    Great images, Alex. I’m looking forward to many more in 2010 . . .

  3. #3 Warren
    December 28, 2009

    Thank you. Interesting style differences; yours are less artistic and more precise than your “best of.” The photographers’ personal relationships with nature coming through in their work. Thought you might have limited it to nine, but why not treat yourself in your own house? If you don’t do it, no one will.

    Specific comments:

    -The bug pic is so colourful for a face of death!
    -I like the autumn tones in the walking sticks (ON boy).
    -The ant lion gets pretty artistic … I like it!


  4. #4 Ted C. MacRae
    December 28, 2009

    I was hoping the giant water bug would be in here – that’s my favorite.

    The parasitic fly is my favorite in terms of a natural history moment.

    The walkingstick should also be mentioned – the autumn tones in the background really make it.

    I’ll have mine up in a few days – not to suggest I’m in your league. Perhaps I should title it “beginner’s best.”

  5. #5 Jack Jumper
    December 29, 2009


    The water Bug yes it Ok. But my all time favorite is one from last year collection Lonely it has very thing.

  6. #6 Mom
    December 29, 2009

    My favorite is the walking sticks. Well done, Alex! XXXMom

  7. #7 myrmecos
    December 29, 2009

    This strikes me as a very fair assessment. Most of the photographers I featured in the “Best Of” list are artists. I am not- I’m more of a naturalist/scientist, and my images are intended to capture particular behaviors or particular species rather than any particular aesthetic.

    So within the confines of the subject I aim for the best aesthetic I can. But that’s a different thing than setting out to create a compelling image foremost.

  8. #8 myrmecos
    December 29, 2009

    Thanks Rick! And of course we’re all looking forward to seeing your stuff in the coming year.

  9. #9 Warren
    December 29, 2009

    @Jack Jumper: where is the “Lonely” pic? This is the second year in a row you’ve mentioned it.

  10. #10 mike
    December 29, 2009

    Great photos! The parasitic fly photo is tied with the antlion photo for my personal favorite.

  11. #11 myrmecos
    December 29, 2009

    That’d be here.

  12. #12 Dave
    December 29, 2009

    The trap-jaw ant foraging on the decomposing leaf is a beautiful composition – I’m a sucker for photographs that look like paintings (as opposed to paintings that look like photographs). It would look great on a cover of a book on soil zoology or at poster size on a living room wall.

  13. #13 Livio L
    December 29, 2009

    My favourite: mosquito larvae.

  14. #14 gmramon
    December 30, 2009

    I should agree with Dave. I love leaf litter ants, so I love the trap-jaw ant photo, congratulations!

  15. #15 erikabear
    December 30, 2009

    I *so* appreciate your naturalist/scientist’s eye. While I appreciate the artists’ approaches, so often they obscure the true “nature” of the insects–and what excites me is a glimpse into that world that seems so distant from that of humans, merely because we’re too big to see into it with our naked eyes. Thanks for the travel to other scales. ­čÖé

  16. #16 japobo
    December 31, 2009

    Fantásticas fotos !!!.

    Feliz A├▒o Nuevo 2010 y no dejes de hacer fotos.

  17. #17 goodbear
    January 1, 2010

    great, great, great!

    love your photos!

  18. #18 Pete Yeeles
    January 1, 2010

    Great selection, Alex. My personal favourite from these is actually the Aphaenogasters with the seed. Not sure what it is that I like so much about it; think it might be the rich green background and saturated colours (combined with a little interesting biology..)

  19. #19 Henry W. Robison
    January 2, 2010

    The giant water bug and the trap-jaw ant from Argentena are my favorites…but you make it hard to choose as all of these are spectacular! You really had a great 2009 Alex1 Her’s looking for more of these in 2010!

    Happy New Year in 2010!

  20. #20 jason
    January 3, 2010

    They’re all spectacular, but I can’t help but say the water bug gets my vote every time. It’s so otherworldly in that pose. You did a great job capturing it: the stillness, the predatory instinct, the watchful eyes, the comfort under the surface. And I’m definitely looking forward to the marvels you come up with for 2010.

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