Saturday, December 28, 2013

Snapping nature at home

Nature photography is generally defined as the photographing of landscapes as well as plants and animals in their natural habitats. Purists do not consider any picture that includes man-made objects as a nature picture.
Some nature photography competitions stipulate that an image cannot be allowed to compete if it includes non-natural objects. This attitude would be commendable were it not for the fact that nowadays none of us live in untouched surroundings. Most of us live in towns and villages surrounded by buildings with little or no greenery.
For many the only nature they regularly come in contact is found in gardens and other man-made open spaces.  For them, nature consists of cultivated flowers, trees and nature programs on television.
On the other hand for those who are tuned to nature there is much more. As they walk through a street, they see wild plants growing wherever there is some soil. Wild plants grow even in cracks on pavements. Vegetation attracts wildlife and though we do not have large animals we have an interesting variety of insects and other arthropods. Some of which even enter buildings including our home.    
Sometimes unusual and interesting species such as the ant-lion end up in houses. Should one photograph an ant-lion on a wall? Yes, because although ant-lions normally spend the day resting on vegetation, the fact that it sometimes spends the day resting on a wall is of interest and worth recording.
This long-winged insect is active mostly in the evening and is more commonly found in sandy areas. The larva lives at the bottom of a funnel-like pit where it spends the day waiting for unwary ants to venture over the edge of the pit. The ants are unable climb out of the pit and fall to the bottom and are eaten by the ant-lion.
About 2,000 species of ant-lion are found world wide. 
This article was published in the Times of Malta on 21 August 2013

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