What Do Ants Look Like Close Up?

February 14, 2024

Considering the estimated 20 quadrillion of these pint-size terrors that populate Earth (except Antarctica, which has its own problems), it might come as no surprise to learn that when close up, they look like something straight out of a horror movie. A photo of a carpenter ant that’s been making the rounds this week bears little resemblance to the cute, cartoonish faces brought to life in Disney/Pixar’s “A Bug’s Life” or DreamWork’s “Antz.” Instead, it looks more like a troll with beady eyes and a horned jaw. The photograph, which earned a “Image of Distinction” in Nikon’s Small World Photomicrography Competition 2022, was snapped by Eugenijus Kavaliauskas, a Lithuanian photographer.

Using a macro lens, the wildlife photographer was able to snap every nook and cranny of the ant. But it’s what’s on the insect’s face that really caught people’s attention. The tiny eyes, for example, look like the piercing red slits of a demon’s mask. The ant’s mouth, meanwhile, has the look of an orc’s ferocious grin.

Kavaliauskas’ image didn’t win the competition’s top prize, which went to Swiss photographers Grigorii Timin and Michel Milinkovitch for their stunning fluorescent image of a Madagascar giant day gecko’s front paw. But the photograph has certainly gotten some people thinking twice about walking through an ant colony again. Unless, of course, you’re an entomologist or a scientist looking for ants to study. Then it might be a different story entirely.

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