FIRE ANTS: Getting Up Close and Personal

While driving part of the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi on April 19, I spotted a box turtle crossing the road.  Since I didn’t have any photographs of this species, I drove on a few miles to find a safe place to turn around, then went back.  The turtle was still crossing the road.  So I helped out the slowpoke by lifting the turtle up and moving it to the road’s shoulder, for which the reptile thanked me with a hiss.  Then I proceeded to make a nuisance of myself by photographing the turtle up close and personal.

First I photographed the turtle from a human perspective, looking down at the creature from a high angle.  This is the way we normally see turtles, so it is a good approach for showing identification cues.  But I like to get in close and show creatures from an eye-level perspective, so I laid down on the ground and with a macro lens, began photographing the turtle’s face.

Then all hell broke loose!  I stuck my elbow into a Fire Ant nest, and within two seconds it felt like there was a strong electric current running through my elbow.  I leaped up, frantically brushing ants from my arm and dancing on the roadside.  Later, I counted 22 pustules on and around my right elbow and the spots itched for days.  Fire Ants swarm, then use pheromones (communicative scents) to tell each other when to sting, and it all comes at once.  Meanwhile, I swear the turtle was laughing at me.

On the other hand (or elbow), my close-up photograph showing the face and red eyes of the creature is a winner, and is much more engaging than the higher level shot.  This is what I mean by getting up close and personal with animals, and it usually works well in photography.  Later, I identified the turtle, using Google on my iPhone, as a Three-toed Box Turtle.

This is part of a weblog documenting my travels and photography. I am primarily a nature photographer, and you can see more of my work at http://www.leerentz.com

Click on the photographs below to see a larger version with captions.

Explore posts in the same categories: animal, danger, mississippi, national parks, nature, outdoor, photo, photography, reptile, wildlife

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One Comment on “FIRE ANTS: Getting Up Close and Personal”

  1. barkybree Says:

    Great story! I had an unfortunate fire ant incident myself, involving utter incoordination and a brand-new set of rollerblades.

    Just discovered your blog, keep up the good work!


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