WPY 2010

Photograph Details

Highly commended 2010

Animal Portraits

Juan Jesus Gonzalez Ahumada, Spain

Oil beetle pose

This creature made a strange sight, clinging to a sprig of gorse on a cold spring morning in southern Spain. Close up, it reminded Juan of a beautiful alien. The black oil beetle is named after the toxic liquid it secretes if grabbed by a predator. As a larva, it lives in the burrow of a solitary bee, feeding on its pollen store and eggs, finally overwintering as a pupa and emerging as an adult in the spring. The female will lay her eggs in the vicinity of bee burrows, timed to hatch just after those of her host. Each louse-like beetle larva will then climb to the top of a flower and lie in wait to grab a lift on a bee and be carried back to its burrow, where it will grow, pupate and start the cycle again.

Technical specification

Canon EOS 40D + 100mm f2.8 lens; 1/4 sec at f8; ISO 100; Manfrotto 190 PRO tripod.

Sierra Blanca, Málaga, Spain: latitude 36.5667, longitude -4.9 Sierra Blanca, Málaga, Spain: latitude 36.5667, longitude -4.9

Sierra Blanca, Málaga, Spain

Intellectual property rights to all WPY images are retained by the photographers. Reproduction without prior written consent constitutes an actionable infringement. For usage enquiries please contact us.

Sign up to receive emails from the Natural History Museum about events and exhibitions, including Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

Juan Jesus Gonzalez Ahumada, Spain

Juan Jesus has spent almost 20 years photographing and studying animal behaviour. He is passionate about wildlife, having been in regular contact with nature while growing up in the countryside. Juan Jesus is self-taught, learning from books and by experimenting with his camera.

  • The texture of life