It’s not a good look.

A startling photograph of an ant’s face magnified five times under a microscope is swarming social media — though it barely merited a mention in the Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition.

Lithuanian wildlife photographer Dr. Eugenijus Kavaliauskas submitted “Ant (Camponotus),” which gives a nightmarish perspective of the beady-eyed everyday pest with a ferocious snarl and flame-like whiskers.

Previously a noted photographer of birds of prey, Kavaliauskas recently switched his focus to insects, according to his portfolio.

This year marked the 48th iteration of the annual Nikon competition, which zeroes in on microscope photography that reveals details otherwise invisible to the human eye. Kavaliauskas’ photo didn’t make it to the Top 20 and Honorable Mentions categories, but was included as one of 57 “Images of Distinction.”

Eugenijus Kavaliauskas submtited “Ant (Camponotus)" to the Nikon competition.
Eugenijus Kavaliauskas submtited “Ant (Camponotus)” to the Nikon competition.
Eugenijus Kavaliauskas/Nikon Sma

Speaking to Insider this week, Kavaliauskas said he appreciated how microphotography allows him to find newer and more interesting aspects to his subjects.

“I’m always looking for details, shadows, and unseen corners. The main goal of photography is to be a discoverer,” he said. “I am fascinated by the Creator’s masterpieces and the opportunity to see God’s designs.”

When asked about the ant’s startling visage, Kavaliauskas replied“there are no horrors in nature.”

Not everyone agrees.

USC film professor Rebekah McKendry ignited a small firestorm when she shared Kavaliauskas’ image on Twitter Monday.

“Image from a horror movie?” McKendry captioned the photograph. “Nope. That’s the very real face of an ant.”

“Now you have to think about that all night,” she joked.

Commenters quickly chimed in with their own reactions.

“Why would you do this to me,” one demanded.

“And now I have 12-15 hours to get that image out of my head,” another replied.

Some were able to make light of their terror, with one person writing “Just wait till Disney’s photorealistic remake of A Bug’s Life.”

The top prize went to “Embryonic hand of a Madagascar giant day gecko (Phelsuma grandis)."
The top prize went to “Embryonic hand of a Madagascar giant day gecko (Phelsuma grandis).”
Grigorii Timin and Michel Milink

Even Kavaliauskas admitted he was once spooked by all he saw under the microscope.

“When I first started with microphotography, I, too, thought all beetles looked a little like monsters,” he told Insider. “But now, I’ve gotten used to it, and am surprised that there are so many interesting, beautiful, and unknown miracles under our feet.” 

In addition to some viral clout, Kavaliauskas walked away from the competition with one Nikon item with a $35 retail value. Out of 1,300 submissions, the top prize– including a $3,000 cash reward– went to “Embryonic hand of a Madagascar giant day gecko (Phelsuma grandis)” by Grigorii Timin and Michel Milinkovitch.

Affiliates of the University of Geneva’s Department of Genetics and Evolution. Timin and Milinkovitch captured the giant day gecko’s front paw in fluorescent detail at 6X magnification.

“This particular image is beautiful and informative, as an overview and also when you magnify it in a certain region, shedding light on how the structures are organized on a cellular level,” Timin said in a Nikon press statement.

The 2023 Small World Photomicrography Competition is already open for submissions, which are welcomed from anyone interested in photography and microscopy. There is also a video portion, titled the Small World In Motion.

Kavaliauskas did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for a comment.





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