This carpenter ant says ‘Happy Halloween’

The extreme close-up recently won a runners-up prize in the Nikon Small World microphotography competition
Boo! (Eugenijus Kavaliauskas)

Ants are amazing creatures.

They can lift up to 50 times their body weight. They can use their bodies to create structures like rafts and bridge. And through teamwork and communication, they are capable of building 'cities' that are home to thousands of their fellow ants. Some species can even farm.

They are also kind of cute, especially when you see them all working away, carrying items.

But all that said, we're also kind of glad that we're a lot larger than they are. Because, as the incredible image at the top of this post proves, they're pretty frightening up close! This uncommon pic of a common carpenter ant was taken by Dr. Eugenijus Kavaliauskas of Tauragė, Lithuania. He entered it into the 2022 Nikon Small World Microphotography competition.

And while it didn't win a top prize, it IS a perfect photo to share on the creepiest day of the year: Halloween!

A matter of perspective

Though this is a real image, its scariness relies on a little bit of some small trickery. No, the colours are not enhanced or changed, and nothing has been added.

But the image is framed in such a way that the ant's eyes are not seen. This allows our brains to read the base of its antennae as pupils. (It adds to the scary factor that these are a vivid red!) Then there are the golden triggers hairs around its mandibles. These are just used to help the insect sense what is around it, but from this close, they look like needle-like fangs. Yikes!

If you look at this image, you can get a bit more of an idea of what the entire head of an ant looks like.

A much less intense image of a carpenter ant. (Wikimedia Commons)

But you know what? Many of the things that we find scary come down to how—or when or where—we encounter them, not what they actually are.

During the day when you're with your friends, an odd noise in the distance is just something to be curious about. But hear the same sound at night when you're alone, and it can feel scary.

If you are going trick or treating tonight, we hope that you find a nice balance between these two sides. A little darkness and plenty of skeletons and ghosts to up the fright factor, but all experienced in the company of family and friends, so that you know that you're safe and sound.

Happy Halloween, everyone! Have fun!

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