A new relationship with animals, nature and each other.

Top Wildlife Photos of the Year

A Marvel of Ants

By Bence Máté, Hungary
Overall Winner—the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

“Photographing leaf-cutter ants in the middle of the night, alone in the rainforest, was an unforgettable experience,” saidMáté would follow a column as it fanned out into the forest. Each line terminated at a tree, shrub or bush. Of his winning shot, he said, “I love the contrast between the simplicity of the shot itself and the complexity of the behavior.”

Lying on the ground to take the shot, he said that he also discovered the behavior of chiggers (skin-digesting mite larvae), which covered him in bites!

Nikon D700 + 105mm f2.8 lens; 1/200 sec at f10; ISO 640; SB-800 flash.
© Bence Máté / Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2010

About leaf-cutter ants

Biologists generally agree that, outside of humans, leaf-cutter ants form the largest and most complex animal societies on Earth. The central mound of their underground nests can grow to more than 98 feet across with smaller mounds reaching out 250 feet from the central one. The entire colony can extend through more than 6,500 square feet and include eight million ants.