10th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest Natural World
The ants holding and hanging different plants' seeds

The photographer, armed with his Nikon D70, was compelled to take this photo because he had never seen ants exhibiting their strength in this way. “It’s [a] unique and rare moment,” Adiyanto says.

Editor's Note, March 13, 2013: After reading the thoughts of entomologist and Scientific American blogger Alex Wild, who wrote that this scene above was "a wholly unnatural arrangement of ants," we have asked Adiyanto to explain more about how he was able to capture this photograph. This submission did not violate our photo contest rules, but we wanted to be sure to clarify the photographer's process. Adiyato explains that he fed seeds from different plants to the ants and lifted, placed, and stacked the ants on the branch himself. Once the ants were in these positions, he took the photograph. He writes, in an email, that he has been observing and studying ants because of their outsized power.

We also asked Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History entomologist Ted Schultz about the scene. "Like Alex Wild says, they wouldn’t really be carrying these things for any reason. On top of that, they wouldn’t really be hanging upside down holding them like that. It is not like they are going to eat those things, those [seeds] are not food for them."

Photo Detail
Date Taken: 04.2012
Date Uploaded: 05.2012
Photo Location: Indonesia
Camera: NIKON D70
Copyright: © Eko Adiyanto
Editor's Pick