Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A smaller death

with 25 comments

Dead Ant in Tiny White Bubbles on Creek 9488

After the third round of photographs from New Zealand that concluded yesterday with the imminent demise of a spotted stargazer fish on the Wellington foreshore, here’s a smaller death from the preserve behind the Austin Nature Center on March 23rd. Usually the bubbles I see floating on creeks appear green because of algae, so when I saw bubbles that looked white in the shallow water of Barton Creek I bent down for a closer look. It was then that I noticed the body of a dead ant. You can say it was well camouflaged, but that word usually implies purpose or at least benefit, neither of which applies here.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 16, 2015 at 5:28 AM

25 Responses

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  1. I’ve seen plenty of injured or dead ants being carried back home by their companions, but I can’t remember seeing one abandoned to its fate like this. I could say something about life being as ephemeral as those bubbles, but I guess I won’t.

    Here’s a story about another variety of death that you’ve often mentioned here. It’s not natural beauty that was lost, but cultural beauty. Still, the manner of destruction was the same. It’s just sickening, and so unnecessary.


    May 16, 2015 at 8:11 AM

    • I thought your linked article might be another depredation by ISIS,


      whose ideology is in some ways the latest reincarnation of the Chinese Communist “Cultural Revolution” (which of course was an anti-cultural revolution). Central America struck closer to home, literally in terms of geography, then personally through the Central America that was my home for two years. I was surprised at how many sites the article says continue to be damaged or destroyed in Belize.

      Everything is ephemeral, as the ant in the bubbles hardly needs to remind us, but that’s all the more reason for people not to hasten the process through unnecessary destruction.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 16, 2015 at 8:35 AM

  2. That ‘s interesting. I wonder what the ant got himself into?


    May 16, 2015 at 8:34 AM

    • I’ve assumed it was the ant’s time to die and this is where that happened, but maybe you’re right that there’s a more-specific cause. It would be great if we had a time machine, not one that would move us into another time (which may not be possible), but one that would let us look back at a place in previous times. Such a machine would be the ultimate crime solver because we could see exactly what happened in a certain place at a given time.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 16, 2015 at 8:45 AM

      • Oh, that would be so cool!


        May 16, 2015 at 8:48 AM

        • The downside is that there’d be no privacy left in the world. It’d be “Big Brother is watching you” raised to the nth power.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 16, 2015 at 8:53 AM

          • Yes, that occurred to me as well. It is a bit like all these drones flying around now. Did you see the footage of the animal that took one out? I can’t for the life of me remember what animal did it, but I loved seeing the animal stand up for its privacy~something we humans are having a hard time doing.


            May 16, 2015 at 9:02 AM

  3. I wouldn’t invoke the concept of camouflage here. It’s more likely an example of “time to let it all go”, no matter where where you are and what you’re doing at the time. I can only hope that, when my time comes, I’m doing something that I love.


    May 16, 2015 at 10:37 PM

    • Right. That’s why I found that the usual connotations of camouflage as purpose or benefit don’t hold here. Our time ends when it ends, whether sleeping and not conscious or doing something (enjoyable, we hope) and conscious. Look at all the philosophizing unleashed by a little ant.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 16, 2015 at 11:46 PM

  4. I know it’s a picture of an ant dying but I can’t help but think how beautiful this image is. The bubbles remind me of glistening pearls. The gold/cream add to that feeling of jewellery as well.


    May 17, 2015 at 8:39 AM

    • Thanks for appreciating the photograph as an abstract image in its own right apart from what’s in it. I didn’t think of jewellery, but I’m not surprised you did, because I’ve noticed that that kind of association usually comes from female commenters.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 17, 2015 at 9:00 AM

      • It’s interesting too, as I don’t actually wear any jewellery and apart from one ring, never have. That is probably for practical reasons though and I always feel that jewellery overwhelms my plain, fair features. I do however appreciate the beauty of natural pearls and Australian opals.


        May 17, 2015 at 9:05 AM

        • Even if you wear hardly any yourself, I expect you pay more attention to it and notice more about it than those of us who are of the XY-chromosome persuasion.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 17, 2015 at 10:50 AM

  5. I have found random signs of death in the non-human world to be expressions of the more natural way of death. We have turned it into a ritual full of meaning which may or may not have a link to reality. I am not sure I am ready to succumb in the middle of nowhere never to be seen again by my loved ones…or fellow colony-mates…but ants and other insects go about their lives with little attachment to any sort of meaning. At least this way they don’t get sealed up in a concrete crypt or urn never to be added back to the earth’s cycle of life. Funny…I’m in a pretty good mood but that is sort of maudlin and sarcastic towards our species.

    Steve Gingold

    May 17, 2015 at 6:25 PM

    • We find you in a thoughtful mood today, Steve. You’ve laid out your case well, and I thank you.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 17, 2015 at 7:52 PM

  6. Just another service from the Gingold Grumps Grousers, ltd.

    Steve Gingold

    May 18, 2015 at 10:34 AM

  7. Incredible observation!

    Birder's Journey

    May 18, 2015 at 4:21 PM

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