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This is what friends are for…

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Following on from yesterday’s bite-fest, remember that the post only included selfies, and that photographing selfie-stingies can be difficult. It’s not easy to contort, one-handed, into a position to compose a decent shot of an insect that may also be inflicting significant pain.

If you’re serious about capturing insect bite and sting photos, here’s a tip. It’s a lot easier to have someone else be on the receiving end of the bug’s wrath. A dedicated skin model frees the photographer to find the best angles and lighting arrangements. Plus, there’s the benefit of finding out just exactly how devoted your friends are to you.

These biting ant images were created with the cooperation of ant scientist Corrie Moreau, from Chicago’s Field Museum, who you see here in high magnification. Corrie was kind enough to sit still for several minutes while a Ugandan driver ant (Dorylus sp.) attempted to dismantle her hand. So- thanks, Corrie!

The Field Museum's Corrie Moreau studies ant evolution when she's not modeling.

A word of caution. Species that feed on humans often vector dangerous diseases like malaria & Lyme disease, so arrange clean, lab-reared animals. Plus, a small percentage of people are dangerously allergic to stings, so make sure your skin model has been safely stung by the same species before attempting sting shots. Most bites and stings are harmless, but it’s best to be safe.

Alex Wild About the Author: Alex Wild is an Illinois-based entomologist who studies the evolutionary history of ants. In 2003 he founded a photography business as an aesthetic complement to his scientific work, and his natural history photographs appear in numerous museums, books, and media outlets. Follow on Twitter @myrmecos.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. Rocza 4:03 pm 09/19/2013

    I’d note: make sure your model has been stung/bitten multiple times. Once might not be enough to bring out an allergy, unfortunately.

    Link to this

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