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  • Slideshow Photos

    Incredible insect photos

    Photographer Thomas Shahan specializes in spectacular portraits of insects and arachnids, taken very up close and personal.

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    Robber fly

    Nature photographer Thomas Shahan specializes in amazing portraits of tiny insects. It isn't easy. Shahan says that this Robber Fly (Holcocephala fusca), for instance, is "skittish" and doesn't like its picture taken.

    Thomas Shahan / Thomas Shahan
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    Jumping spider

    Shahan found this adult male Paraphidippus aurantius jumping spider at Red Bud Valley Nature Preserve near Catoosa, Okla.

    Thomas Shahan / Thomas Shahan
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    Damselfly

    This close-up of the head of a damselfly is Shahan's first of this species. "Generally, these guys won't let you," he said.

    Thomas Shahan / Thomas Shahan
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    Horse fly

    Shahan caught this female Tabanus horse fly in a toothpick container, took the insect home, then smeared some honey on a stone (in foreground) to get it to stand still for its close-up.

    Thomas Shahan / Thomas Shahan
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    Grasshopper

    A close-up look at the head of a grasshopper, courtesy of photographer Thomas Shahan.

    Thomas Shahan / Thomas Shahan
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    Female jumping spider

    This female jumping spider (Platycryptus undatus) was at least three-fourths an inch long, one of the largest Shahan had seen before he spotted a 1-inch one nearby. Unfortunately, it jumped and disappeared.

    Thomas Shahan / Thomas Shahan
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    Wet bee

    Shahan found this this wet bee face sitting immobile on top of a flower. "I don't think he was dead," he said, "maybe just too cold and wet to fly away."

    Thomas Shahan / Thomas Shahan
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    Ladybug

    Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home. Fortunately, this Cycloneda munda didn't, at least not before Shahan snapped its picture.

    Thomas Shahan / Thomas Shahan
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    Praying mantis

    This mantis, about an inch and a half long, was chewing on its own foot for some reason when Shahan photographed it.

    Thomas Shahan / Thomas Shahan
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    White face fly

    This white face fly (Archytas apicifer) was quite a large representative of its species.

    Thomas Shahan / Thomas Shahan
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    Weevil

    This tiny weevil, around 4-5mm or so, was captured atop a flower. A weevil is a type of beetle.

    Thomas Shahan / Thomas Shahan
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    Green sweat bee

    Shahan said this was one of the first "decent photos" he had gotten of a green sweat bee, of the family Halictidae. This one was quite small, about 10mm in length.

    Thomas Shahan / Thomas Shahan
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    Striped lynx spider

    Shahan found this male striped lynx spider (Oxyopes salticus) on the railing of his own deck. He said the male is more difficult to photograph than the female of the species.

    Thomas Shahan / Thomas Shahan
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    Katydid

    The head of a katydid nymph (Scudderia). Shahan believes that the insects lose most of these vibrant colors by the time they become adult.

    Thomas Shahan / Thomas Shahan
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    Striped horse fly

    Shahan captured the image of this male striped horse fly (Tabanus lineola) on a white railing, which reflected his flash, providing good lighting. He said it made bizarre movements with its legs, "totally different than any other fly I have seen."

    Thomas Shahan / Thomas Shahan
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    Crane fly

    This was the first tiger crane fly (Nephrotoma ferruginea) that Shahan was able to photograph up close; normally, he said, they were "just too flighty."

    Thomas Shahan / Thomas Shahan
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    Harvestman

    This harvestman (Palpatores) was photographed at Devil's Den state park in Arkansas. Although it is an eight-legged arachnid (one of this one's legs is missing), it is not a spider.

    Thomas Shahan / Thomas Shahan
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    Female jumping spider

    This close-up of a female jumping spider (Maevia inclemens) clearly captures the vivid colors of its eyes.

    Thomas Shahan / Thomas Shahan
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    Say 'cheese'

    Photographer Thomas Shahan hard at work in the wild, getting a shot of a robber fly in August 2009.

    See more of Shahan's work

    Thomas Shahan / Thomas Shahan