At the end of March I willingly would have liked to shoot arthropods in the wild, such as flies, midges or early beetles. Due to the unusually long, never-ending winter in Central Europe I had poor chance to find any active insects, although in this period we could observe several species of butterflies and many-many flies, or small weevils and ground beetles. So I decided to join friends looking for overwintering beetles hidden under barks of deciduous and coniferous trees or still in the pupal chambers within the wood.
Now instead of beetles and flies I would introduce a tiny particular orthopteran living together with ants. The ant-loving cricket (Myrmecophilus cf. acervorum) has a really specific life related to ants, giving them nothing in exchange of food and safe living space. I propose an article on Wikipedia, where the summary of the knowledge about them is described well.
A mixed deciduous forest with fallen trees in central Hungary. The big rotten tree was an oak (Quercus petraea). We expected and found click beetles (Ampedus spp.) and small stag beetles (Aesalus scarabaeoides) in the red rot, and sometimes opened huge cavities with hundreds of Lasius emarginatus (ID-cred: G. Lőrinczi – see his comment) ants.
Between the ants there was another insect at the same size but remarkably different appearance:
It was walking quietly without any incident with the ants:
Definitely the smallest (3 mm) and most interesting cricket in Europe:
Probably they don’t need to see too much that’s why have degenerated eyes with only a few ommatidia:
The macro photos were taken with a Canon MP-E65 1-5x maro objective at various magnifications and cropped subsequently as much as needed. Each one was handheld and lit with diffused external flash (Canon Speedlite 270EX). Some of the photos will be uploaded soon onto Flickr.