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Science

Incredible insect photos

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

19 PHOTOS

Robber fly

Eyes of a Holcocephala fusca Robber Fly Man, was this one difficult! These little robbers are incredibly skittish - an absolute pain...
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Jumping spider

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Damselfly

Damsel Fly Head - (Argia vivida) First time I have ever had a chance to photograph a damselfly. Generally, these guys won't let you...
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Horse fly

Female Tabanus Horse Fly I haven't been going out looking for bugs as much as I would like to as it has been quite hot around here lately (over 100 degrees). But I did manage to take a short drive out to Lake Bixhoma this afternoon with the usual hopes of finding new jumping spiders. Although I only found one common salticid, I had a great afternoon. After just an hour or so, my eyes were filling with sweat so fast, looking through the viewfinder was nearly impossible. I decided to call it a day at that point, as I ruined a few buttons on my last camera from sweating. What happens is that when I look through the viewfinder, the tip of my nose rests right on the playback button, and effectively acts like a funnel channeling all my sweat right into the button. This female horsefly was circling and buzzing around me for a good half an hour before I came across an overgrown concrete picnic area. She immediately flew underneath a broken concrete table and rested on the underside. I caught her in a toothpick container and headed home as I didn't feel like attempting to photograph her there. Once home, I smeared a bit of honey on a stone outside and let her loose. She went right for the honey, I took a few photos, and then she flew away (all within about 30 seconds). The photo was taken with the 50mm reversed on a few extension tubes.
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Grasshopper

Grasshopper Head
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Female jumping spider

Female Jumping Spider - (Platycryptus undatus) Full frame, no cropping on this photo, this guy was at least three fourths an inch long. I thought it was the largest jumping spider I had ever seen until I saw one at least an inch long with enormous arms on a nearby wall. Unfortunately, that one jumped and dissappeared.
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Wet bee

Bee I found this wet bee face just sitting on top of a flower not moving at all. I don't think he was dead, maybe just too cold and wet to fly away.
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Ladybug

Lady Bug (Cycloneda munda)
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Praying mantis

Praying Mantis Some nice compound eye detail in this one. Not sure why it's chewing on it's foot. Maybe an inch and a half long or so
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White face fly

White Face Fly - (Archytas apicifer) Quite a large fly. Focus stacked manually from 2 photos. (Click "All Sizes" as the compound eyes look strange in this thumbnail.)
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Weevil

Weevil on a Flower Tiny weevil, around 4-5mm or so.
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Green sweat bee

Green Sweat Bee (Halictidae) First decent photos I have gotten of this species. Quite small, maybe 10mm or so.
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Striped lynx spider

Male Striped Lynx Spider - (Oxyopes salticus) Smaller than the female, and notice the big black palps. Maybe a 3mm body or so. Harder to photograph than the female. There was 4 of these spiders hanging out on my deck's railing.
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Katydid

Katydid Nymph Head - (Scudderia) Quite a colorful one. They generally lose most of these colors by the time they become adults I assume, as I have never seen a colorful adult Katydid.
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Striped horse fly

Male Striped Horse Fly (Tabanus lineola) I had seen one of these flies last summer and wished I had a chance to photograph it, and I haven't seen another one until today. Take a look at the larger size, it's really a beautiful fly. Through the viewfinder I watched him make several bizarre movements with his front legs, totally different than any other fly I have seen. Taken using just the 28mm reversed and the flash to the top left. He was on a white painted railing which bounced the flash back up and provided some nice lighting. Full frame, no cropping.
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Crane fly

Tiger Crane Fly Head (Nephrotoma ferruginea) I had never really bothered to photograph crane flies up until this photo, they were just too flighty and would never let me get close enough to photograph them. For some reason, this one didn't mind me getting close at all, so I took this photo (which is nearly full-frame as I only cropped the sides) with the 28mm reversed on the bellows. Manually focus stacked from two photos.
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Harvestman

Harvestman - (Palpatores) The eyes look exactly like the eyes on the scorpion I posted earlier. This one is also missing a leg. I guess spiders don't always have eight eyes. Taken at Devil's Den state park in Arkansas.
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Female jumping spider

Anterior Median and Lateral Eyes of a Female Jumping Spider - (Maevia inclemens) You may have noticed by now that the eyes of jumping spiders can be several colors, but I have noticed that the eyes of female Maevia iclemens are often exceptionally vivid. With their beautiful deep blue anterior median eyes displaying the occasional moving wash of red due to the internal movement of the spider's retina, they are truly remarkable. I found this little (~5mm) female Maevia inclemens in a light fixture on my back porch, and upon noticing that she was going to be quite a cooperative subject, I ran back inside and grabbed my macro bellows. I have no way of judging exactly what magnification the photo above was taken at, but I am confident it was taken past 5:1 with th 28mm reversed to the bellows. I spent a little bit watching her through the viewfinder as I could actually see that red haze move about behind those lenses! It's absolutely amazing to see these movements - I'll have to try to get a video of it sometime soon. The photo above is a focus stack from 4 photos taken at f/8 and cropped pretty significantly. I only got 9 photos of this spider before my good luck turned - she hopped away and I lost her. I thought I was getting better at finding escapees, but her flee was successful - I never found her.
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Say 'cheese'

Here's a photo of the photographer Thomas Shahan getting a shot of a robberfly in August 2009.
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