Planet Earth

The True Face of Bugs, From Beautiful to Bizarre

Bugs get a bad rap but seeing them up close reveals their stunning variety.

By Colin HuttonAug 5, 2015 12:00 PM

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Photo Credits: Colin Hutton

Photographer and author Colin Hutton has a penchant for insects. He's photographed scores of them since 2010 in his distinctive macro style. Many of the portraits are collected in his new book, Bugs In Close-Up

He's drawn to bugs for their appearance, their unique behaviors and their interesting life cycles, Hutton explains. And yet, in general, these creatures are underappreciated:

Here are some of our favorites from his new collection.

Photo Credits: Colin Hutton

Broad-Nosed Weevil

With their tough exoskeleton, and no obvious sign of wings, beetles don’t look like they’re even capable of flight. 

Unlike the many insects whose wings are always exposed, beetles keep their flying wings safely tucked under their protective forewings when not in flight. When beetles take flight, the forewings lift and the flying wings unfurl.

Photo Credits: Colin Hutton

Monkey Grasshopper

Grasshoppers can be excellent subjects for insect portraits. Their elongated faces combined with cross-eyed pseudopupils create a somewhat comical appearance.

Photo Credits: Colin Hutton

Leaf Beetle

These tiny beetles don’t look very interesting from afar, but a close view from above reveals a beautiful intricate pattern that looks more like art than an insect exoskeleton.

Photo Credits: Colin Hutton

Chalcidid Wasp

Wasps come in many different styles, and this chalcidid wasp is one of the more sporty models. 

Though they may look fierce, these wasps are completely harmless to people. Unlike their stinging cousins, chalcidid wasps are parasitic and use their stingers to plant eggs in host species rather than delivering a painful dose of venom. 

Many parasitic wasps are beneficial to humans because they help control populations of pest insects.

Photo Credits: Colin Hutton

Luna Moth

Most photographs taken of moths and butterflies tend to focus on the wings, but many of these beautiful insects also have interesting faces. Male giant silk moths, like this Luna Moth, have very large and feathery antennae for homing in on the pheromones emitted by females.

Photo Credits: Colin Hutton

Long-Horned Bee

Despite the common perception that bees are social insects living in large colonies, most bee species are solitary. 

Many solitary bees, such as this long-horned bee, can be found clinging to plant stems during the night and early morning as they sleep. They don’t use their legs, but rather grip a perch with their mandibles to remain in place as they sleep.

Photo Credits: Colin Hutton

Cuckoo Wasp

These wasps lay their eggs in the nests of other wasps or bees. When the larvae hatch, they proceed to eat the host species’ eggs and any food provided by the parents. 

They lack the ability to sting, but if captured by a predator, or a curious photographer, they tuck in their legs and roll into a ball.

Photo Credits: Colin Hutton

Common Green Darner

This is one of the most widespread and abundant species of dragonfly. They are also among the largest dragonflies in the world.

Photo Credits: Colin Hutton

All images and captions excerpted from Bugs In Close-Up by Colin Hutton. Used with permission. 

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