Magnified around a hundred times, a mealworm goes indigenous gross to gregarious as component of a collection of inexplicable portraits.

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A mealworm"s magnified face expose expressive "eyes" and mouthparts. Mealworms are the larval form of the mealworm beetle and are typically used as high-protein feed because that animals.

Squirming approximately in the dirt, a mealworm may seem unremarkable. Yet if her eyes could magnify the beetle larva by a hundred times, that exquisite face would come into focus. You’d see miniature features that appear so expressive, you can be tempted come anthropomorphize the little rascal.

This is familiar territory for photographer Jannicke Wiik-Nielsen. Her portraits of insects, parasites, bacteria, and other exceptionally small life—part of a collection dubbed Hidden World—showcase these creatures in ways that do them look much less like “creepy crawlies,” together she call them, and more like characters. She achieves the effect through scanning electron microscopy, a an approach that yields high-resolution photos through the use of electrons rather of photons.




Left: A couple of scattered grains of pollen space visibile in this detail of a hoverfly eye. "The link eye is created of many facets," Wiik-Nielsen says, "each that which has a lens" that together assist the insect orientate itself and also detect movement.
Right: Antennae akimbo and mouth agape, a hoverfly (also referred to as a flower paris or syrphid fly) seems complete of personality once viewed increase close. Hoverflies, which are common throughout the world, feed on pollen and also nectar, Wiik-Nielsen says. "Despite their appearance, i beg your pardon mimics wasps and also bees, they space harmless to humans."

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“Electrons have much much shorter wavelengths 보다 light waves,” she says, “which much better resolution than an simple light microscope.”

In scanning electron microscopy, a focused electron beam catches a high-resolution, grayscale image of a specimen by scanning that surface. Because the beam is sensitive to dust and water, this scanning is done within a high-vacuum chamber. ~ Wiik-Nielsen collects a specimen, she locations it in a systems that helps keep its structure. Then she dries the sample thoroughly and gives it a slim coat that metal. This help the specimen stay undamaged throughout the imaging process, i beg your pardon takes just a couple of minutes. Once an image is made, Wiik-Nielsen uses Photoshop to colorize it. (See what mites look like under a scanning electron microscope.)

“Depending ~ above the purpose of the photo,” she says, the colors room manipulated to replicate what she"s able come see v her own eyes, or, in other cases, “the colors may be manipulated in an artistic form," or left as black and white.




Left: "Ants form colonies described as superorganisms," Wiik-Nielsen says, "because show up to run as a linked entity, collectively working together to support the colony."
Right: Wiik-Nielsen uncovered this caterpillar, enhanced roughly a hundred times, eating broccoli in she garden.
Photograph by Jannicke Wiik-Nielsen

Left: Bumblebees "are important farming pollinators," Wiik-Nielsen says. The one displayed here is enhanced approximately 40 times.
Right: increase close, a woodlouse—which Wiik-Nielsen collected from she garden—resembles a character in a scientific research fiction movie. "Woodlice breathe with gills, so they are minimal to locations with high humidity, under rocks or logs, in sheet litter or in crevices," Wiik-Nielsen says. " feeding on disk plant and also animal matter, performing a an essential role in the decay cycle."

Wiik-Nielsen’s passion for electron microscopy took hold six year ago. As a research study scientist at the Norwegian vet Institute, she was examining fish eggs that had been infected through a fungus, and also an amoeba the creates gill condition in farmed salmon. She photos that the amoeba caught the fist of the institute’s aquaculture biologists and also breeders, she says, “who at long last might actually view the parasite that they to be trying come fight.” Wiik-Nielsen to be fascinated through the microscope’s volume to magnify the organisms approximately 200,000 times, and it soon became a research tool of choice.

Her favorite subjects are parasites. Though they may seem gross to plenty of people, Wiik-Nielsen says, things choose tapeworms and also roundworms become incredible when magnified by an electron microscope. The images reveal the creatures’ physics characteristics—mouthparts, for example, or the small protrusions dubbed microvilli—in wild detail. (Meet 5 "zombie" helminth that mind-control their host.)


Left: Belonging to the very same phylum as coral, sea anemones, and also jellyfish, a hydroid (Echtopleura larynx) might look "delicate and soft. But beware," Wiik-Nielsen says. The organisms, which room often discovered attached to underwater ropes, buoys, mussels, and also seaweed, feature two rings of stinging tentacles the are supplied to capture and also subdue prey.
Right: In this image, a hydroid offers its tentacles to protect its sex-related buds, called gonophores, from exterior threat.

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Tapeworms space parasites that live in the intestines that humans and animals, including countless fish. They do not have actually a cradle tract, so rather they absorb nutrient from their host's spend food.


Tapeworms are parasites that live in the intestines the humans and also animals, including plenty of fish. They do not have actually a digestive tract, so instead they absorb nutrient from your host"s digested food.


Even blood-sucking (and Lyme disease-spreading) deer ticks captivate Wiik-Nielsen. In an ode to a tick she encountered and also then photographed, she wrote, “I was disgusted once you arrived at my shoulder. You thought I to be a deer who can save your life. Rather I was a human being who could end her life. Now, looking at her face, i feel anything however disgust.”

In addition to using the electron microscope to photo specimens for research, Wiik-Nielsen uses it—with the institution’s permission and support—to picture things she find in she garden, or when experimenting outside v her two young daughters.

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“We find crustaceans in the tidal waters, pollen native plants and also trees,” she says. “Only our fantasy have the right to limit us!”


Photographer Jannicke Wiik-Nielsen is a research study scientist in the room of Fish wellness at the Norwegian veterinary Institute. Her electron micrographs have actually won several international awards and also have been showcased in exhibitions approximately the world. She is at this time collaborating v Norwegian biologist Dag O. Hessen on a book around the importance of small organisms.