Demonic Close-up Photo of Ant’s Face Is Straight Out of a Horror Movie

There’s so much more to the world than what we can see with the naked eye, so sometimes we need a little help dialing into the details. That’s what Nikon’s Small World Photomicrograph Competition is all about. Nikon announced the winners last week, but I’m going to start off by highlighting one of the runners-up, a highly magnified image of an ant.

The ant photo is from wildlife photographer Eugenijus Kavaliauskas, who has a glorious portfolio you could lose yourself in for hours. The image has attracted some attention on social media, perhaps due to a combination of its haunting nature and the proximity of Halloween. It looks like something that crawled out of an orc pit in Middle-earth.

Yes, I’m putting this image in here twice. You need to enlarge this and really gawk at the details.

Eugenijus Kavaliauskas/Nikon Small World

If the ant grabs you, be sure to visit the full Nikon Small World winners gallery. The top place for 2022 went to an image of the embryonic hand of a Madagascar gecko, taken by Grigorii Timin of the University of Geneva. The stunning view is magnified 63 times. The gecko’s bones, tendons and skin are visible and nerves show up in cyan.

This stunning microscopic view of a gecko hand is the top winner of the 2022 Nikon Small World photo competition.

Grigorii Timin/Nikon Small World

The gecko foot is made up of hundreds of images. “Masterfully blending imaging technology and artistic creativity, Timin utilized high-resolution microscopy and image-stitching to capture this species of Phelsuma grandis day gecko,” Nikon said in a statement. It’s a stunner.

If you’re still in a spooky mood, then I’ve got a couple more Small World highlights for you. Here’s a ghost-like anemone larva found in marine plankton, taken by Wim van Egmond of the Micropolitan Museum. As far as phantom-like creatures go, it’s pretty cute. The photo earned an honorable mention.

A teensy anemone larva floats against a black background like a little ghost.

Wim van Egmond/Nikon Small World

Another notably unsettling image shows a fly tucked in under the chin of a tiger beetle. The colorful image comes from Murat Ozturk and placed 10th. It doesn’t look like things turned out well for the fly.

A tiger beetle hangs onto a fly in this 10th place winner from Nikon’s 2022 Small World photo competition.

Murat Ozturk

The otherworldly insect images are lookers, but there’s plenty to be impressed with among the winners, from the ethereal beauty of moth eggs to the eye-catching color of slime molds. It shows how zooming in on the hidden side of life reveals entire worlds that are usually beyond our vision.