By Chris Adams
This is the moment a brave ladybird diced with death as it balanced precariously on the nose of a hungry grass snake and even wandered across its mouth – before escaping with its life.
Business analyst Dave Collins – who got so close to the snake that his reflection can be seen in its eyeball – captured the stunning image during a visit to a nature reserve in Wiltshire.
The incredible shot shows the moment the ladybird’s legs are directly over the snake’s mouth and the reptiles beady eyes watch it intently – seemingly frustrated by the beetle’s audacity.
Dave crouched down low and chanced upon the snake eyeballing the beetle in the long grass for a few seconds before it flew off.
The 34-year-old admitted he thought the bug was a goner as it clung on almost vertically to the reptile’s head.
Dave, from Cirencester, Gloucestershire, said: “The snake thought it had landed itself a little treat but the ladybird was lucky enough to fall into the moss and make a break for it.
“I’ve been out a few times looking for these snakes and on this day I found myself in a really good spot quite close to them.
“That day it was quite overcast so they were out in force and I was able to get no more than a couple of feet away.
“I had to approach them very slowly and keep a low profile by crouching down. I took a few shots of the snake doing its thing and then suddenly the ladybird landed on its nose.
“It was only there for a few seconds but I was clicking furiously. I was quite lucky with it but I think the pictures turned out really great.”
Dave, who only picked up a camera for the first time five years ago, goes out every weekend to wildlife hotspots in the Costwolds and beyond.
He said his love of photographing animals stemmed from a childhood where he was ‘obsessed’ with insects and birds.
Dave said: “I was addicted to creepy crawlies and would go around collecting them so I suppose seeing the ladybird in this situation was a real conflict of interests.
“Obviously it makes for a great picture because its literally in the jaws of the snake, but part of me really wanted to reach out and rescue it.
“The ladybird’s leg was literally on the snake’s mouth and I was really hoping it wouldn’t get eaten.
“Thankfully I didn’t have to and it just sort of fell into the moss and made a break for it. I’m sure the snake will have had plenty more opportunities for a snack.
“I was quite fortunate really with the timings. I was just hanging around trying to find as many of the snakes as I could.
“It’s not often you see interaction between the animals like this so I’m really chuffed I was there to capture it.”