These are the most beautiful pictures of bugs you will ever see
Mary Beth Griggs
at 15:50 PM Oct 12 2017
These are the most beautiful pictures of bugs you will ever see
Levon Biss
Nature // 

We typically think of insects as pests or pestilences, carrying disease or gnawing their way through our gardens before we can get a bite. But they are also gorgeous creatures, as photographer Levon Biss explores in his latest book, Microsculpture: Portraits of Insects. The book is a continuation of his Microsculpture exhibit at Oxford's Museum of Natural History, which displayed bugs from the collection in a larger-than-life way.

 

We typically think of insects as pests or pestilences, carrying disease or gnawing their way through our gardens before we can get a bite. But they are also gorgeous creatures, as photographer Levon Biss explores in his latest book, Microsculpture: Portraits of Insects. The book is a continuation of his Microsculpture exhibit at Oxford's Museum of Natural History, which displayed bugs from the collection in a larger-than-life way.

To get the highly detailed portraits, he took over 8,000 shots of a single specimen and stitched them together, a process that takes about three weeks to complete.

Here are 10 fantastic creatures from the book for you to enjoy. And when you're done admiring the belles of the bug ball, check out more beautiful bug photography in some of our other insect-centric galleries.

Branch-backed treehopper
 

Levon Biss

The branch-backed treehopper from Belize has an oddly elongated thorax that curves up, creating an almost perfect circle. Treehoppers, which send out low vibrations through trees to communicate with each other, have evolved a variety of different shapes and sizes of spectacular headgear, and scientists aren't entirely sure why. It could involve camouflage or defense from predators.

Common reed beetle

Common reed beetle

Levon Biss

The common reed beetle is actually now a rather rare resident in the United Kingdom. They develop underwater, but still need to breathe, and rely on air-filled sacs in wetland plants to get the larvae the breath of fresh air they need.

Longhorn beetle

Longhorn beetle

Levon Biss

There are over 25,000 longhorn beetle species known to science, including this jewel-toned variety from Nigeria. Its larvae eat dead wood, and can take up to 20 years to develop into adults like this magnificent specimen, with fine butterfly-like scales providing stunning color.

Mantis fly

Mantis fly

Levon Biss

It might share a name and a shape with the more famous praying mantis, but this mantis fly is unrelated to more pious counterparts. However, both use their grasping legs to grab on to their prey, and dig in for a meal.

Marion flightless moth

Marion flightless moth

Levon Biss

It might look like a muskox with curving, horn-like antennae, but this flightless creature is actually a moth. It lives, Biss says, in the remote reaches of the Indian Ocean on the Prince Edward Islands, where it feeds off scraps that build up in albatross nests.

Amazonian purple warrior scarab

Amazonian purple warrior scarab

Levon Biss

The Peruvian Amazonian purple warrior scarab is not to be trifled with. It emerges at dusk throughout the Amazon basin, and acts as a distinct cleaning service for the region, carving up dead animals with its serrated legs.

Short-nosed weevil

Short-nosed weevil

Levon Biss

The short-nosed weevil could be a stand-in for Snow White, with its light-reflecting scales. This species, from Brazil, has yet to be investigated in full.

tiger beetle

Tiger beetle

Levon Biss

Tiger beetles, like this one from Boreno, are fierce hunters that can pursue prey so quickly that they temporarily lose sight of the world around them. They frequently stop in their blurred pursuit of their meals, using their antennae to avoid obstacles.

Tortoise beetle

Tortoise beetle

Levon Biss

This tortoise beetle from China may look imposing, but it likely fed on leaves. These beetles, Biss writes, wear their domed armor like protection (or maybe camouflage), but their larvae use a different approach, covering themselves in a coating of discarded skin and feces.

Treehopper

Treehopper

Levon Biss

This treehopper, unlike its earlier mentioned circular cousin, has a triangular outgrowth that looks almost like a shield. The orange and black colors are typically a warning sign in nature, saying to all would-be predators; 'Danger: not eat.'

Excerpted from Microsculpture by Levon Biss. October 2017, Abrams Books. Published with permission.

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