Ant head stereo

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Beatsy
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Ant head stereo

Post by Beatsy »

Squeezing a picture (any picture) out of what proved to be a problematic specimen. Not to mention the several even-more problematic ones that preceded it!
Does anyone know how to open the mandibles on a dead ant (freshly thawed)? I ended up with a pile of broken ant-heads and gave up in frustration, for now (hence the closed mandibles on this one) :cry: Image

Saul
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Post by Saul »

Most probably you already know that, but just in case...
This is excerpt from instructions I received from one great macro photographer (he is not a member of our community):
"...
1. (Relaxing) Dead insects are stiff and brittle, so they have to be 'relaxed' in order to be able to move their legs without breaking them. I use ammonia (5%), Sodium hydroxide (5%) or Decon 90 (20%). Most of these products have a strong cleaning effect as well, an advantage, because it helps to remove dust and dirt. However, the timing is important and case-dependent. Use these solutions too long and your insects falls apart or alters color ...."
Saul
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Beatsy
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Post by Beatsy »

Saul wrote:1. (Relaxing) Dead insects are stiff and brittle, so they have to be 'relaxed'...
Yes, I'm familiar with relaxing (of all kinds :-) ). Certainly worth mentioning though. But in this case, "freshly thawed" *is* relaxed, with the added benefit that small soft parts (halteres, footpads etc) are also in a good, unshrivelled state for half a day or so. It's just those darn jaws! The "hinge" looks really interesting and I want to see (capture) inside...

rjlittlefield
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Post by rjlittlefield »

The stereo is great -- thanks for that!

As for the jaws, I have no experience. Have you tried a soak in dilute lye or your favorite equivalent to partially dissolve the soft tissues?

--Rik

Beatsy
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Post by Beatsy »

rjlittlefield wrote:The stereo is great -- thanks for that!

As for the jaws, I have no experience. Have you tried a soak in dilute lye or your favorite equivalent to partially dissolve the soft tissues?

--Rik
Thanks Rik. I want to keep the ant (or at least the head) in good condition for imaging. This is really just a mechanical problem at the moment. The ant is, for all intents and purposes, freshly dead and everything is as supple as expected, except the jaws. Trouble is there's nothing to hold on to. You're trying to prize apart clamped jaws that are attached to a wobbly head supported by an uber--pencil-neck on a (relatively) tiny body. Nothing to grip without causing visible damage.
Next plan is to try glueing a wire or point into the back of the head (out of sight for the pose) and use that to hold and stabilise it while I push the jaws around. Limits the posing options for any given ant, but it might work. I've a couple of other activities "on the go" now but I'll get back to this soon. You'll see a pic if it does work...
Meanwhile, I'm still open to any and all suggestions. Thanks for the inputs so far.

NikonUser
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Post by NikonUser »

Having 'worked' with lots of ants I can attest that ant muscles are incredibly strong with a cantankerous will of their own. If the jaw muscle contract, as in your speccimen, then they will likley stay contracted whatever you attempt.
When trying to get a lateral view of a dead ant there is often one leg that is determined to point upwards in a most unnatural position. Just tying to move this oner leg results in the whole ant moving!
If you put half a dozen ants in the same small container before killing them some will get really aggressive and die with their jaws wide open; or you can hold one ant in your hand and it will open its jaws (while biting you) and then flood the ant with alcohol,
One of the key characters for identifying a 5mm local ant is whether or not the upper tooth on the jaw is offset from the other teeth, good luck with that!
NU.
student of entomology
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” I suppose you are an entomologist ? “
” Not quite so ambitious as that, sir. I should like to put my eyes on the individual entitled to that name.
No man can be truly called an entomologist,
sir; the subject is too vast for any single human intelligence to grasp.”
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Beatsy
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Post by Beatsy »

NikonUser wrote:Having 'worked' with lots of ants I can attest that ant muscles are incredibly strong with a cantankerous will of their own. If the jaw muscle contract, as in your speccimen, then they will likley stay contracted whatever you attempt.
When trying to get a lateral view of a dead ant there is often one leg that is determined to point upwards in a most unnatural position. Just tying to move this oner leg results in the whole ant moving!
If you put half a dozen ants in the same small container before killing them some will get really aggressive and die with their jaws wide open; or you can hold one ant in your hand and it will open its jaws (while biting you) and then flood the ant with alcohol,
One of the key characters for identifying a 5mm local ant is whether or not the upper tooth on the jaw is offset from the other teeth, good luck with that!
Brilliant. Thanks!

Totally agree ref handling and errant legs. In fact, ants are just six crooked legs supporting a wobbly butt and an even bigger, wobblier head :lol: I've made recent progress there, using my current "answer to every problem in the universe", tungsten needles. It's easy to knock the points into handy hook and loop shapes. A few of those stuck in some blutak (tacky picture hanging stuff) make great "holders" when untangling legs under the stereo.

I have seen a few with jaws open as you say. This one was from six or so in one container - all clamped shut. I tried alcohol once before "in the field". It was Eclipse sensor cleaning fluid though (which is methanol - a few drops in the lid) but the ants I dropped in it just walked away after it evaporated :shock: So I discounted that - but I'll try again with proper ethanol.

Cheers

Sumguy01
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Post by Sumguy01 »

=D> Very nice.
Thanks for sharing.

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