WPY 2019

Photograph Details

Winner 2019

Behaviour: Invertebrates

Daniel Kronauer, Germany/USA

The Architectural Army

By day this colony of army ants raided their surrounds, mostly hunting other ant species. At dusk they moved on, travelling up to 400 metres before building a nest for the night. Positioning his camera on the forest floor, Daniel was wary of upsetting thousands of venomous army ants. ‘You mustn’t breathe in their direction,’ he says.

Army ants alternate between nomadic and stationary phases. These ants are in a nomadic phase, building a new nest each night using their own bodies. The soldier ants interlock their claws to form a scaffold while the queen stays inside in a network of chambers and tunnels. During the stationary phase they will stay in the same nest while the queen lays new eggs.

Technical specification

Canon EOS 7D + 16–35mm f2.8 lens at 16mm + extension ring; 3.2 sec at f22; ISO 100; Canon Speedlite flash


La Selva Biological Station, Heredia, Costa Rica: latitude 10.421987, longitude -84.01499 La Selva Biological Station, Heredia, Costa Rica: latitude 10.421987, longitude -84.01499

La Selva Biological Station, Heredia, Costa Rica

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.



Love this image?

Choose your favourite from this year's collection. You can only choose once.

Top five favourites

Daniel Kronauer

Daniel Kronauer, Germany/USA

Daniel heads the Laboratory of Social Evolution and Behavior at the Rockefeller University in New York City. While much of his research is lab-based, he also conducts fieldwork on army ants. In 2017, a newly discovered beetle (Nymphister kronaueri), which lives inside army ant colonies as a social parasite and rides on the ants during colony emigrations, was named in his honour.