1st Place: Lacewing Portrait
Magnified 20 times, a green lacewing larva's mandibles look fierce in this winning picture from the 2011 Small World Microphotography Competition, whose top images were announced Wednesday.
The tiny subject landed on Igor Siwanowicz's hand one day and began biting him, prompting the photographer and biochemist to place the insect in a test tube he keeps in his pocket for just such occasions.
Back at the lab, Siwanowicz, of Madison, Wisconsin, carefully fixed and dyed the now dead lacewing for the photo—no easy task, as the bug's head measured just 1.3 millimeters in length.
"My art causes a dissonance for its viewer—a conflict between the culturally imprinted perception of an insect as something repulsive and ugly with a newly acquired admiration of the beauty of its form," he said in a statement.
Sponsored by Nikon, the annual Small World contest honors pictures taken with light microscopes "that successfully showcase the delicate balance between difficult scientific technique and exquisite artistic quality."
(Related: "Pictures: Best Micro-Photos of 2010.")
Pictures: Best Micro-Photos of 2011
From mini insect "monsters" to solar cells-turned-abstract art—see the best microphotos chosen in the annual Small World photo competition.