By Kim Reader
These stunning shots show the moment hoverflies performed a daring stunt to form a precarious but perfectly-posed ‘fly-rise’ tower on a flower head.
Despite their flimsy platform, the yellow and black striped critters managed to stack themselves on top of each other and create a colourful three-bug column.
Amateur photographer Matthew Laffey, who had to chase around the insects as they got into formation, said it was like the hoverflies were performing a trick – like a ‘motorcycle pyramid’.
But typist Matthew, 36, believes there might have been an ulterior motive for the pile up as the hoverflies could have been caught in a tower of love – possibly trying to mate.
Matthew, of Wakefield, West Yorks, said: “I saw the two hoverflies and went over to get a photo and as I got closer the third one came over and landed on top of them.
“It was very unusual but I just thought ‘Well three’s better than two’ and carried on trying to get a photo but they kept running away from me, buzzing around the flower but I wasn’t going to leave until I got a good picture.
“They were flying around in the tower like they were in formation. It’s like they were putting on an air show, performing some kind of trick. They looked just like when motorcyclists do the pyramid.
“I have no idea what they were actually up to. I think the bottom one might have been a female and they’d been trying to mate when the third one came along or the female was in the middle.
“To find out what they were really doing I’d have to speak to someone who knows more about insects but either way it was very strange. I’ve never seen them piled up like that before.
“It is definitely one of the more unusual photos I have taken but I am always on the lookout for something a bit different. This time it just happened to come to me, it’s great luck really.”
The precarious insect pillar was spotted by Matthew during a visit to Temple Newsam, a celebrated Tudor-Jacobean house in Leeds, West Yorks, on August 13.
Matthew had gone to take pictures of the grounds but found himself wandering off looking for insects ‘as usual’.
After suffering from anxiety and agoraphobia for years, Matthew bought a puppy and having a pet to care for and being forced to get out and about for dog walks gave him a new lease of life.
It was during these walks with his Cavachon Tink that Matthew started taking photos and finally bought himself a professional camera a year ago after much encouragement from friends and family.
Although he is still experimenting with different types of photography, Matthew has recently developed a fascination with close-up shots and is saving to buy a macro lens.
Matthew said: “I was trampling through the woods taking photos but as usual I found myself getting distracted and wandering off to look for insects.
“I got a close-up lens recently and this was the first time I had taken it out of the garden.
“I enjoy taking photos of everything from landscapes to buildings and wildlife but it is exciting experimenting with the close-up lens. It’s amazing what things look like when you take a closer look.
“I’m not very good at photographing people as my anxiety means I still feel quite self-conscious around them but I’m getting there.
“Getting out for walks with Tink has helped so much. That’s when I started taking lots of photos on my phone but friends and family kept telling me how good I was and that I should get into it properly.
“About a year ago I decided that if I wanted memories of my life to look back on, they should be taken with a good camera and invested.”