You are currently previewing the NEW Scientific American site. Tell us what you think or view the old site

Skip to main content

Stories by Alex Wild226 articles archived since 1845

Announcing Insects Unlocked

A while back I wrote a feature for Ars Technica on the dysfunctional online copyright landscape. The piece was personal. My photographs average around $50 each to make, mostly in time, equipment, and travel costs.

March 18, 2015 — Alex Wild
Meet Gil Wizen’s Neighbors

Meet Gil Wizen’s Neighbors

Unless you live under a rock, you have likely seen the clean white natural history work of the Meet Your Neighbours project. And even if you do live under a rock, chances are one of the project’s members has found you, removed you to a plastic stage, and snapped a photo.

March 6, 2015 — Alex Wild

Build a World-Class Insect Imaging System for under $6,000

Compound Eye has been quiet of late. My silence is for a good cause, though! The past few months have been hectic as I transitioned from freelance photography in Illinois to a new job: Curator of Entomology at the University of Texas in Austin.

February 24, 2015 — Alex Wild
The Ethics of our Brave New Drone Photography World

The Ethics of our Brave New Drone Photography World

It’s a marvelous time to be a photographer. The blossoming tech industry has made us all kids in a candy shop, suddenly realizing the whole street is candy shops, on a street with peppermint cobblestones and licorice fountains.

February 16, 2015 — Alex Wild
Window To A Wetter Past In Tucson

Window To A Wetter Past In Tucson

When I lived in Tucson a few years back, I often wondered why a city even existed there. Modern Tucson is completely dry, save a few artificial ponds propped up for the golfing set.

February 2, 2015 — Alex Wild

A Recipe for Photographing Angry Fire Ants

This 2007 photograph of a fire ant brandishing her stinger is among the most heavily circulated images from my collection. Since several people have asked how I managed to coax the animal into such a dramatic pose, I bring you the following recipe.

January 30, 2015 — Alex Wild

Giving Birth To A Tropical Parasite [Video Not For The Squeamish]

“Why is it that an animal that is actively trying to kill us, such as a lion, gets more respect than one that is only trying to nibble on us a little, without causing much harm?” -Piotr Naskrecki Biologist Piotr Naskrecki, who traveled with me to Belize last year, returned home to find himself incubating [...]

January 12, 2015 — Alex Wild
Into the Public Domain

Into the Public Domain

In honor of January 1st being Public Domain Day, I am releasing a few of my older images from copyright: These images are now available for all uses, including commercial use, without the need for attribution or permission.

January 1, 2015 — Alex Wild
My Personal Best Photographs of 2014

My Personal Best Photographs of 2014

2014 was a busy year, and an odd one in terms of subject matter. Usually my stream is full of ants. I am trained as an ant biologist, after all, and these charming social insects typically weigh heavily in my photographs (see 2013, 2012, 2011).

December 31, 2014 — Alex Wild
January 1 is Public Domain Day!

January 1 is Public Domain Day!

[The following piece is a modified repost from 2013] Every year, on the first of January, copyrights on certain older creative works expire and the works pass into the public domain.

December 26, 2014 — Alex Wild

These Spider Fangs Aren’t Going To Photograph Themselves

Here is a photograph of a Sydney funnel-web spider, Atrax robustus: I won’t explain the biology of this delightful animal here – you may read about it at Wikipedia in greater arachnological detail. Instead, I want to show the process by which I arrived at this composition.

August 13, 2014 — Alex Wild

Wasps Are Our Friends: Part IV

When most people think of wasps, they imagine a stereotypically striped stinging insect. Such wasps are part of the family Vespidae, but they are, in fact, a minority of species and unrepresentative of their order.

July 2, 2014 — Alex Wild

How To Pick A Photoshopped Firefly

Now that firefly season is sparking up our eastern and midwestern summer evenings, I am starting to see not just the insects themselves but the attendant media buzz.

June 28, 2014 — Alex Wild
Selling the Public Domain

Selling the Public Domain

Teachers Pay Teachers is a freewheeling online market where entrepreneurial educators sell lesson plans, powerpoints, and other didactic materials to each other.

June 26, 2014 — Alex Wild

Wasps Are Our Friends: Part III

You might think an insect with an extra pointy derriere would pack a fearsome sting, but you’d be wrong. The extended rear appendage of the crown-of-thorns wasp is not a stinger but an egg-laying organ, the ovipositor, used to reach beetle grubs chewing through the wood below.

June 23, 2014 — Alex Wild

Give a Gift & Get a Gift

Give a 1 year subscription as low as $14.99