Portfolio Portfolio Beyond the Stinger The Life and Times of the Hornet. The European hornet may be the largest wasp species in Europe, but their size belies their intricate and fascinating lives. Despite their fearsome reputation, these creatures are misunderstood, and there is so much more to them than their stingers. In fact, they are not interested in sugary human treats that attract other wasps, preferring instead to forage for insect prey near flowers and bushes. Hornets are also devoted caregivers, bringing their catch back to their elaborately crafted paper nests to feed the hungry larvae waiting inside. Their colony has a complex social hierarchy, complete with task divisions and guard duties, and even the risk of being cast out. Through my photography project, I aim to showcase the captivating world of these often-misunderstood insects, revealing their true beauty and wonder. Beyond the Stinger The Nocturnal Life of Mayflies Dancing in the Moonlight. The mayflies of the species Ephoron virgo may spend most of their lives hidden away as unassuming larvae in the rivers of Europe, but their brief emergence as delicate, pale adults is a stunning spectacle to behold. Each year, under the cover of darkness, these elusive creatures transform into winged beings, frantically seeking a mate, laying their eggs, and passing on before the sun rises again. Sometimes, the swarms are so massive that the Dutch call them “Zomersneeuw” or “summer snow,” as the mayflies dance and flutter around streetlights. In 2018, during an exceptionally hot summer, I was lucky enough to witness this enchanting display on the banks of the Nederrijn near Wageningen. Returning several nights in a row, the ephemeral mayflies took flight around me in the moonlight, creating a magical scene that I’ll never forget. The Nocturnal Life of Mayflies Insect Assassins Surviving in a World of Predation. Predatory insects are some of the most fascinating creatures in the animal kingdom. With their sharp jaws, lightning-fast reflexes, and impressive hunting strategies, they are the ultimate predators. Whether it’s the fearsome mantis, the cunning spider, or the agile dragonfly, these insects are a true testament to the power and beauty of nature. So next time you see one of these predators in action, take a moment to marvel at their incredible abilities and the intricate web of life they help to sustain. Insect Assassins Insects at First Light A Photographic Journey Through the Early Hours of Dawn Photographing insects in the early morning can be an exciting and rewarding experience. As the dawn breaks, the insects emerge from their nightly torpor, their movements slow and graceful, as if waking from a dream. The cool night air leaves dew drops like sparkling jewels on their bodies and the surrounding vegetation, creating a breathtaking scene. The soft morning light can add a beautiful and ethereal quality to insect photography, creating a magical and otherworldly atmosphere. Insects at First Light Tadpole Tales A Journey through Spring Ponds The mating season of brown frogs and common toads is a fascinating event that occurs in spring. During this time, the frogs gather in ponds and wetlands to search for mates. Male frogs will often engage in physical competition to impress potential partners, while the females carefully choose their preferred mates. The sights and sounds of this natural event are an interesting and educational experience for those who appreciate the wonders of nature. As a result of the mating season, the females lay clusters of gelatinous eggs called frogspawn in the water. From these eggs, tadpoles will eventually hatch and develop into juvenile frogs. Tadpole Tales The Leafy Kingdom The Art of Greenery Plants play a vital role in the ecosystem, providing food, shelter, and oxygen to a myriad of creatures. Exploring and learning about the plant world is a journey of discovery that offers insights into the complexity and beauty of nature, and a deeper understanding of our place in the natural world. The Leafy Kingdom Fungi Kaleidoscope Uncovering the Rainbow of Fungal Life The fungi kingdom exhibits a vast diversity of shapes, sizes, and colors, ranging from tiny dots to large umbrellas, and from stark whites to vibrant hues of red, yellow, and purple. It’s a wonder to behold! © 2023 Yavanna Aartsma. All rights reserved. Fungi Kaleidoscope Wildlife Wonders Capturing the Diversity of (in)vertebrates. While insects are my primary focus in photography, I find joy and wonder in encountering all forms of wildlife during my nature walks. There’s nothing quite like stumbling upon a small mouse scurrying across my path, a curious lizard basking in the sun, or a mother bird feeding her babies. Such moments leave me with a sense of gratitude and wonder for the natural world, and always bring a smile to my face. Wildlife Wonders Load More Loading More… You’ve reached the end of the list © 2023 Yavanna Aartsma. All rights reserved.