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Camera bugs: Photographer’s gear eaten by leaf-cutter ants in the Amazon Rainforest

When someone tells you that their camera setup was destroyed by bugs, what comes to mind? A failed firmware update, maybe? How about a corrupt memory card or a faulty sensor?

While those all may seem like logical answers, they are not quite the reason photographer Phil Torres’ camera setup was destroyed by bugs. No. You see, his camera equipment was destroyed by actual bugs, not by any of the metaphorical ones we often speak of when it comes to technology.

While attempting to capture a photo of a jaguar in the Amazon rainforest, Torres’ camera setup was destroyed by literal bugs. Specifically, quite a few pieces of his equipment was eaten one small chunk at a time by an entire colony of leaf-cutter ants.

As he shares in the above video, his entire camera trap setup was destroyed when a nearby colony of leaf-cutter ants decided to munch on his expensive camera equipment in preference to the thousands of leaves that surrounded their entire nest.

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Not only did the leaf cutters manage to cut away at the dry bags and covers that he had over his gear to protect it from the overnight rain, they also managed to chew through cables and even tear apart a rather robust Joby GorillaPod. Anyone care for dessert?

Below is a list of gear that was destroyed in the overnight massacre:

  • Joby GorillaPod ($50)
  • Canon 7D ($1,500)
  • Canon 18–55mm f/3.5–5.6 EF ($125)
  • Canon Speedlight ($100)
  • Dry Bag ($30)
  • Cognisys Infrared Sensor ($175)
  • Gitzo Basalt Tripod ($800)

All in all, that ends up being $2,780 worth of damage, not including Torre’s pride, which he says is “priceless.”