This is not beautiful.
A startling photograph of an ant’s face magnified five times under a microscope is taking over social media – despite barely earning a mention in Nikon’s Small World Photomicrography competition.
Lithuanian wildlife photographer Dr. Eugenijus Kavaliauskas submitted “Ant (Camponotus),” which gives a nightmarish perspective of the bulging-eyed everyday pest with a ferocious snarl and flame-like whiskers.
Previously renowned photographer of birds of prey, Kavaliauskas has recently turned his attention to insects, according to his wallet.
This year marked the 48th edition of the annual Nikon competition, which focuses on microscope photography that reveals details otherwise invisible to the human eye. Kavaliauskas’ photo did not reach the Top 20 and Honorable Mentions categories, but was included as one of the 57 “images of distinction”.
Talk to insider this week, Kavaliauskas said he enjoys how microphotography allows him to find new and more interesting aspects to his subjects.
“I’m always looking for details, shadows and invisible corners. The main purpose of photography is to be a discoverer,” he said. “I am fascinated by the masterpieces of the Creator and the possibility of seeing the purposes of God.”
Asked about the ant’s surprising face, Kavaliauskas replied “there are no horrors in nature”.
Not everyone agrees.
USC film professor Rebekah McKendry sparked a small firestorm when she shared Kavaliauskas’ image on Twitter on Monday.
“Picture from a horror movie?” McKendry captioned the photo. “No. It’s the real face of an ant.
“Now you have to think about it all night,” she joked.
Commentators were quick to offer their own reactions.
“Why would you do this to me,” one asked.
“And now I have 12-15 hours to get this image out of my head,” another replied.
Some were able to shed some light on their dread, with one person writing “Just wait for Disney’s photorealistic remake of A Bug’s Life.”
Even Kavaliauskas admitted to being scared by everything he saw under the microscope.
“When I started microphotography, I also thought that all beetles looked a bit like monsters,” he told Insider. “But now I got used to it and I’m surprised that there are so many interesting, beautiful and unknown miracles under our feet.”
In addition to some viral weight, Kavaliauskas walked away from the competition with a Nikon item with a retail value of $35. Out of 1,300 submissions, the top prize – including a $3,000 cash reward – went to “Embryo Hand of a Giant Madagascar Day Gecko (Phelsuma grandis)” by Grigorii Timin and Michel Milinkovitch.
Affiliated to the Department of Genetics and Evolution of the University of Geneva. Timin and Milinkovitch captured the giant day gecko’s front leg in fluorescent detail at 6X magnification.
“This particular image is beautiful and informative, both as a bird’s-eye view and also when you magnify it in a certain region, shedding light on how structures are organized at the cellular level,” Timin said in a press release from Nikon.
The 2023 Small World Photomicrography Competition is already open to submissions, which are welcome to anyone interested in photography and microscopy. There is also a video part, called the little world in motion.
Kavaliauskas did not immediately respond to the Post’s request for comment.