Arthropod Photo Shoot… in Belize!

Lauren Nichols recently attended the BugShot Insect Photography Course in Belize this past September and came home with some spectacular photographs (and stories).  She was shooting photos of arthropods non-stop over the course of a week – even, as you’ll read below, at the airport! Expect to see more of Lauren’s work featured on the blog in coming days, joining that of our other photographer superstars, Alex Wild and Matt Bertone.

How many insects can you find and photograph in a median strip outside the Belizean airport in 20 minutes?

This was the spur-of-the-moment challenge I issued myself when I unexpectedly discovered I had a half hour to spare before my return flight from Belize City back to Raleigh.  It seemed a shame to spend my last few minutes in Belize flipping through postcards with glossy photos of the insects that might possibly be lying right beyond the airport terminal’s sliding glass doors.  Glancing at the short security line, I calculated that I could get through it in 10 minutes max, leaving me a good 20 minutes to run outside for one last insect photo shoot.

The grassy median outside the Belize City airport was teaming with life. Photo credit: Lauren Nichols.

The grassy median outside the Belize City airport was teaming with life. Photo credit: Lauren Nichols.

The grassy median right outside the terminal turned out to be more bountiful than I expected.  I juggled my urge to photograph as many of the different kinds of insects I could see with my desire to use my new skills and get really high quality photos.   Below is a sampling of the critters I shot before I had to run back inside to catch my plane.

Two for one.  Fire ants (Solenopsis sp.) tending aphids on an unknown plant. Some species of fire ants are native to Belize; however, they have become invasive in cities.  These little ladies were very protective of their “herd” of aphids, sending me home with painful welts on my hands and feet. Photo credit: Lauren Nichols.

Two for one. Fire ants (Solenopsis sp.) tending aphids on an unknown plant. Some species of fire ants are native to Belize; however, they have become invasive in cities. These little ladies were very protective of their “herd” of aphids, sending me home with painful welts on my hands and feet. Photo credit: Lauren Nichols.

 

This fly had the most brilliantly iridescent blue body and stunning eyes. Photo credit: Lauren Nichols.

This fly had the most brilliantly iridescent blue body and stunning eyes. Photo credit: Lauren Nichols.

A brightly colored leafhopper. Photo credit: Lauren Nichols.

A brightly colored leafhopper. Photo credit: Lauren Nichols.

A lone acrobat ant (Crematogaster sp.).  A little out of focus, but it was the last shot I snapped before I rushed off to catch my flight.

A lone acrobat ant (Crematogaster sp.). A little out of focus, but it was the last shot I snapped before I rushed off to catch my flight.

lauren_nicholsLauren Nichols is a research assistant and lab manager for the Dunn Lab at NC State. When she’s not in the field studying how climate change affects Eastern deciduous forests, you can find Lauren peering into a microscope identifying the myriads of ants submitted by School of Ants participants.

By |2016-11-22T13:47:17+00:00November 5th, 2013|

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3 Comments

  1. Kenneth Setzer November 5, 2013 at 4:50 pm - Reply

    Great shots! Good use of lighting in such a difficult macro situation.

  2. De Anna November 6, 2013 at 9:46 am - Reply

    Beautiful pictures! My favorites were the fly and fire ants tending their aphids. Amazing!

  3. Nancy Kabisch Carranza November 7, 2013 at 8:19 pm - Reply

    lovely work lauren! it was worth the dash back outdoors! :-)

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