WPY 2018

Photograph Details

Highly commended 2018

Behaviours Invertebrates

Christian Wappl, Austria

Trailblazer

By one in the morning, the forest was quiet, but its nightlife shone out from the leaf litter. The star of the show was a large firefly larva about seven centimetres long, which emitted a continuous glow from four light organs at its rear end. Using a long exposure with a burst of flash, Christian revealed the larva apparently blazing a trail.

Fireflies spend most of their lives as larvae, feeding on other invertebrates such as snails and slugs. This one is a voracious predator of snails, even tackling those many times its size. Its glow is the result of a chemical reaction within its light organs, and is most likely a warning to predators that it is unpalatable.

Technical specification

Canon EOS 5DS + 16–35mm f4 lens at 35mm; 33 sec at f5.6; ISO 1600; Yongnuo flash; Cable release; Gitzo tripod


Peninsular Botanic Garden, Trang, Thailand: latitude 7.46889, longitude 99.63722 Peninsular Botanic Garden, Trang, Thailand: latitude 7.46889, longitude 99.63722

Peninsular Botanic Garden, Trang, Thailand

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Christian Wappl

Christian Wappl, Austria

Christian spent the first years of his life travelling the world with his parents. Seeing the world's rich biodiversity left him with a deep connection to nature. While studying for a biology degree, he picked up a camera to document his work and found that photography was more than taking shots for reference. His work now focuses on tropical rainforests and urban environments.