Maggot Fangs & Water Bear Claws: Microscopic Insect Images

Have you ever looked a wasp right in its faceted eyeball, or seen an image of a flea that you’d call ‘beautiful’? Ever glimpsed the fangs of a bottle fly maggot, or an alien manatee-looking creature that lives in moss? These 15 macro and microscopic photographs of creepy-crawly insects, worms and other tiny creatures give us an incredible look at a world unseen by the naked eye.

A Face Only a Fly Could Love

(image via: the sun)

Maggots are already some of the grossest creatures that exist on earth, feasting on corpses and other rotting matter. But get a good look at one up close, and it will never leave your mind. It’s probably plotting to show up in your nightmares as we speak. This image, showing a maggot’s creepy little ‘fangs’, was taken with a powerful electron microscope by retired scientific photographer Steve Gschmeissner.

Nematode Worm Explosion

(images via: byu)

You may have heard of ‘beneficial nematodes’, microscopic living creatures that you can order online and sprinkle onto your lawn to kill fleas and other pests. But have you ever seen what they actually look like? This image, by Brigham Young University students, shows the aftermath of successful organic pest control using this method as nematodes spill out of their victim, a moth larva.

Unseen Companions: Dust Mites & Mosquito


(images via: inceptive notions)

There’s nothing that dust mites love more than flakes of human skin. That’s a group of them, in the top image, foraging for their favorite treat on a bed sheet. Makes you want to do laundry, doesn’t it? Photographers David & Madeline Spears also captured the mosquito, below, and dozens of other insects for their book ‘Unseen Companions: Big Views of Tiny Creatures’.

Lousy Ants

(image via: brian valentine)

The next time you feel a little slap-happy when you find an ant crawling on your skin, think about this: ants have the same problem. This ultra-close-up image of two red ants shows not just incredible textures on the ants’ exoskeletons and eyeballs, but also an infestation of mites.

A Mite with a Mite Problem

(image via: macromite)

And the chain never ends. This image, captured with an electron microscope, depicts 4 ‘hypopi’, juvenile mites, hitching a ride on a larger mite called an Athiasiella.

Up Close & Personal with a Wasp

(image via: bug faces)

A paper wasp and a yellow jacket give the camera a look of warning in these macro shots captured by Coder. It’s sometimes possible to tell the difference between the many different species of wasps by counting the number of divisions in their antennae. For example, male yellow jackets have 13 divisions per antenna, while females of the same species have 12.

Fantastic Flea

(image via: the telegraph)

Fleas are undeniably gross little creatures, but this electron microscope shot by Steve Gschmeissner could almost be called beautiful. That’s mostly thanks to the ethereal colors produced in this type of photography, which captures light differently than a normal camera.

Spiny Assassin Bug

(image via: uglybug.org)

The spiny assassin bug doesn’t sound pleasant, and doesn’t look it, either. Those two long feeding tubes are quite a weapon: they first inject a lethal saliva into the bug’s prey, and then suck out its insides. Some assassin bug subspecies are bloodsuckers, and have a nasty habit of biting sleeping humans on the soft tissue of their lips and eyes.

Alien Manatee, or Water Bear?

(images via: session magazine)

It can’t be seen by the naked eye – and that’s probably a good thing, or we’d never want to go anywhere near the water. Tardigrades, also known as water bears or moss piglets, are microscopic eight-legged animals that live in lichen, moss, dune grasses and in both marine and freshwater sediments. They have bizarre-looking tubular mouths and on each little foot can be found four to eight claws. Technically, they’re not insects, but related to nematodes.

Damselfly Kiss

(image via: bug faces)

Who knew that damselflies had such cute little faces? Damselflies have two gigantic compound eyes, each of which is divided into 30,000 to 40,000 facets. Like many other insects, they have fuzzy faces, but the biggest surprise in this macro is those almost human-looking lips.

None-Too-Lovable Stinkbug

(image via: uglybug.org)

It’s not a good idea to get this close to a stinkbug. If you can see its eyes, chances are it will have a clear shot of shooting its foul defensive liquid into them in a fine mist. This liquid, for which the bug is named, can actually cause abrasions to the cornea.

Ponder the Praying Mantis

(image via: bug faces)

We’re usually so entranced by the leaf-mimicking body of the praying mantis that we’d hardly even notice its head. But those triangular little heads are pretty cool themselves – they can turn 180 degrees to spot potential prey.

Human Head Louse

(image via: morrisonworldnews)

Your scalp is going to itch just looking at this picture. The human head louse, which spends its entire life hanging out among human hair dining on blood, has two sharp mouth parts perfect for piercing skin that retract into its head when not in use. They love to hang out at the nape of the neck or behind the ears, where it’s nice and dark.

Pubic Louse

(image via: david gregory & debbie marshall)

If you thought the head louse was bad, check out this bugger. The pubic louse – which is surprisingly only distantly related to the head louse – has an appropriately ugly mug. Commonly known as ‘crabs’, public lice are sexually transmitted but can also infest the eyelashes.

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