Macro Highlights – The Best of 2023

4 January 2024

2023 went by in a flash, but not without a bang. I managed to document lots of amazing lifers and did field trips in Borneo and Thailand as well. I’ve finally launched Isopod Site which started as a photo compilation of terrestrial isopods and slowly adding in information on taxonomy and biology of isopods. Towards the end of the year, I also managed to dive briefly into microscope photography. It is completely different from macro photography in the field, but an important skill for documenting microfauna.

Based on my 2023 iNaturalist statistics, I’ve recorded 1723 observations and 769 species, with over half from insects and almost all of the other half from arachnids, and most of the rest from myriapods and isopods.

Many thanks to my group of dedicated friends in macro photography who selflessly shared their finds throughout the year – Vin PSK, Alvin, Cham, Mok, 星爷, Roger, Amber, James, Nick, Melvyn, KS. Special thanks goes to Paul for finding lots of cool arachnids that I’ve included in this compilation!

Micro Four Thirds Setup

Microscope Setup

2023 Highlights

Here are 2023’s most memorable shots in chronological sequence.

    Wagler's pit viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri) - P2124161
  1. Wagler's pit viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri)

    This pit viper is very common, but its docile nature always allows me to attempt some wide-angle close-ups! This was photographed at less than 2cm from the viper’s face.

  2. Moth fly (Psychodinae) - P2254845
  3. Moth fly (Psychodinae)

    The most common moth flies tend to be dull gray. We commonly call them drain flies, sewer fairies, etc. but they are generally flies that look like tiny moths. This individual had brilliant blue scales!

  4. Planthopper nymph moulting (Tongini) - P2254827
  5. Planthopper nymph moulting (Tongini)

    I’ve had several shots of this scene before and it always ends up in the annual showcase.

  6. Flat-headed leafhopper (Tituria sp.) - P3175535
  7. Flat-headed leafhopper (Tituria sp.)

    During my family trip to Fraser’s Hill, this flat-headed leafhopper turned up at the light traps. See more at Cicadellidae Checklist: Leafhoppers.

  8. Huntsman spider (Heteropoda davidbowie) - P4096437
  9. Huntsman spider (Heteropoda davidbowie)

    Classic portrait of a male David Bowie’s Huntsman Spider.

  10. Ant (Discothyrea sp.) - P4096390
  11. Ant (Discothyrea sp.)

    During one of our weekly night hunts, we found this cute Discothyrea, a lifer genus for me! See more ants at Formicidae Checklist: Ants.

  12. Tailless whip scorpion (Sarax sp.) - P4096454
  13. Tailless whip scorpion (Sarax sp.)

    I’ve been bringing a glass jar for scenes like this. A heavily gravid Sarax shows the legs of the babies in the eggs.

  14. Saw-tooth lantern bug (Zanna nobilis) - P4157010
  15. Saw-tooth lantern bug (Zanna nobilis)

    This is my main lantern bug lifer for 2023, known for its “saw-tooth” anterior process. After spotting it for the first time, we encountered it several more times during other trips in the year. The person in the picture is not me, just a very happy and dedicated macro photographer. Check out Fulgoridae Checklist: Lantern Bugs.

  16. Plantlouse (Psyllidae) - P4307548
  17. Plantlouse (Psyllidae)

    These colourful plant lice were found in abundance, but very rarely photographed due to their small size.

  18. Jumping spider (Microbianor sp.) - P6201844
  19. Jumping spider (Microbianor sp.)

    This is an adorable beetle-mimic jumping spider which very oddly has only been found in a cemetary. View more jumping spiders at Salticidae Checklist: Jumping Spiders

  20. Spiky assassin bug nymph (Centrocnemis malayana) - P5148817
  21. Spiky assassin bug nymph (Centrocnemis malayana)

    Spiky subjects are always exciting to macro photographers. These spiky assassin bug nymphs are very well camouflaged. Hope to see the adult of this some day!

  22. Whitefly larvae (Aleurocanthus sp.) - P5148735
  23. Whitefly larvae (Aleurocanthus sp.)

    I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one thinking that these whitefly larvae are pin cushions…

  24. Blue Pseudoscorpion (Paratemnoides sp.) - P5138357
  25. Blue Pseudoscorpion (Paratemnoides sp.)

    Possibly new from a moult, we found a pseudoscorpion with a brilliant blue tint.

  26. Handsome fungus beetle (Eumorphus marginatus) - P5209436
  27. Handsome fungus beetle (Eumorphus marginatus)

    While doing a private workshop, we encountered a large bracket fungus with its underside completely covered with these fungus beetles. It was so crowded that I had to take lots of wide angle shots of the scene and had water dripping into the lens. View more at Endomychidae Checklist: Handsome Fungus Beetles.

  28. Bird dung crab spider (Phrynarachne sp.) - P5230084
  29. Bird dung crab spider (Phrynarachne sp.)

    Juvenile of a rare bird dung crab spider. Very hopeful to see a mature individual next year! View more at Thomisidae Checklist: Crab Spiders.

  30. Pseudoscorpion (Paratemnoides sp.) - P5229961
  31. Pseudoscorpion (Paratemnoides sp.)

    The pseudoscorpions usually hide inside crevices of railings. When unsuspecting prey (usually ants) walk by, they’d be ambushed by many tiny pincers.

  32. Jumping spider mimic planthopper (Rhotana marmorata) - P5230049
  33. Jumping spider mimic planthopper (Rhotana marmorata)

    Apparently not too rarely sighted, but this lovely species is new to me. From far, I honestly thought that it was a jumping spider. View more at Fulgoroidea Checklist: Planthoppers.

  34. Plant louse (Psylloidea) - P5240733
  35. Plant louse (Psylloidea)

    First time seeing this tiny tiny plant louse adorned with numerous stripes.

  36. Planthopper (Sarebasa celebris) - P5240622
  37. Planthopper (Sarebasa celebris)

    Lucky to have Ee Hean bring me around Botanic Gardens to document cicadellids, but I got pretty distracted by many other things!

  38. Ant (Tetraponera allaborans) - P6021001
  39. Ant (Tetraponera allaborans)

    I really need to photograph more ants. Have chosen to only photograph the unique-looking ones, or stationary ones.

  40. Pseudoscorpions (Paratemnoides sp.) - P6020942
  41. Pseudoscorpions (Paratemnoides sp.)

    Another pseudoscorpion predation scene.

  42. Weevil (Curculionidae) - P6021034
  43. Weevil (Curculionidae)

    We rarely see weevils with such a long rostrum.

  44. Jumping spider (Hyllus giganteus) - P5198950
  45. Jumping spider (Hyllus giganteus)

    I was lucky to document one of the largest salticids in the world, Hyllus giganteus at the spider lab.

  46. Borneo Highlands with Chien and Pearl - IMG_20230705_172703_1-
  47. Borneo Highlands

    In the middle of the year, we visited Sarawak and dropped by Borneo Highlands for a quick field trip with Chien Lee. Many thanks to Chien and Pearl for hosting us!

  48. Vampire crab (Geosesarma sp.) - P7052669
  49. Vampire crab (Geosesarma sp.)

    Paul found several terrestrial vampire crabs and this one was carrying a clutch of eggs. You can even see the eyes of the little ones waiting to hatch.

  50. Darkling beetle (cf. Malaysphena sp.) - P7052536
  51. Darkling beetle (Malaysphena sp.)

    Cham found this super cute darkling beetle which we initially mistook for an ironclad beetle. View more at Tenebrionidae Checklist: Darkling Beetles.

  52. Hairy snail (Opisthoporus biciliatus) - P7052836
  53. Hairy snail (Opisthoporus biciliatus)

    I’ve only seen pictures of this hairy (or spiky) snail before. Seems that this is a common species in Sarawak.

  54. Cat gecko (Aeluroscalabotes felinus) - P7052778
  55. Cat gecko (Aeluroscalabotes felinus)

    Chien showed us this cat gecko resting peacefully on a thin stick. It remained at the same position even after everyone took shots from every perceivable angle.

  56. Deer Cave Rest Point - IMG_20230707_152831-
  57. Mulu National Park – Deer Cave

    After Gunung Penrissen, we spent 4 rainy nights at Mulu National Park, famed for its limestone caves. This is where the bat exodus would take place every evening.

  58. Lantern bug (Scamandra rosea) - P7063007
  59. Lantern bug (Scamandra rosea)

    Our first subject at Mulu National Park was this beautiful lantern bug right in front of our rooms.

  60. Spiky handsome fungus beetle (Cacodaemon sp.) - P7063410
  61. Spiky handsome fungus beetle (Cacodaemon sp.)

    On our first night, we spotted a beautiful blue spiky Cacodaemon.

  62. Lantern bug (Penthicodes farinosus) - P7063198
  63. Lantern bug (Penthicodes farinosus)

    Penthicodes farinosus was pretty common throughout the park. There were several in front of our rooms as well.

  64. Bolas spider (Ordgarius sp.) - P7073585
  65. Bolas spider (Ordgarius sp.)

    The top find at Mulu National Park was this spectacular Ordgarius, which is likely to be new to science. In fact, we’ve not seen photos of it anywhere else before. View more orb weavers and bolas spiders at Araneidae Checklist: Orb Weaver Spiders.

  66. Cave spider (Pandava sp.) - P7074200b
  67. Cave spider (Pandava sp.)

    We visited the caves on the second day, and found several lifers, including new families like Titanoecidae.

  68. Jumping spider (Portia sp.) - P7074237
  69. Jumping spider (Portia sp.)

    We were just talking about a white Portia beautifully camouflaged on limestone walls, which Chien photographed and featured in his latest book Nature’s Tricks. Imagine our excitement when we saw a mature male on the railings just outside the caves!

  70. Harvestman (Epedanidae) - P7074041
  71. Harvestman (Epedanidae)

    Also found at the cave entrance was this stunning epedanid with its super long clasping pedipalps.

  72. Spittlebug (Aphrophoridae) - P7084495
  73. Spittlebug (Aphrophoridae)

    The spittlebugs were pretty exotic to me as well. View more at Cercopoidea Checklist: Froghoppers.

  74. Harvestman (Podoctidae) - P7084549
  75. Harvestman (Podoctidae)

    Mok spent a long time at a fallen log along Paku Loop, and found a highly cryptic podoctid.

  76. Stalk-eye fly (Diopsinae) - P7084433
  77. Stalk-eye fly (Diopsinae)

    There were also some stalk-eye flies flying around and I couldn’t resist some record shots.

  78. Leafhopper (Cicadellidae) - P7084482
  79. Leafhopper (Cicadellidae)

    Take a closer look at this leafhopper. The posterior end resembles a snake’s head, yes??

  80. Tortoise beetle (Malayocassis hilaris) - P7084460
  81. Tortoise beetle (Malayocassis hilaris)

    One of my favorite photos from this trip had to be of this tortoise beetle that Cham found. This particular species has beautiful blue network patterns in the transparent sections and a golden splotch in the centre of its dorsum. View more at Cassidinae Checklist: Tortoise Beetles.

  82. Cave harvestman (Miopsalis sp.) - P7084703
  83. Cave harvestman (Miopsalis sp.)

    We spent a day taking the Fastlane Tour and visited Lagang Cave for the blind crabs. There were several of these stylocellid harvestmen which we mistook for sandokanids initially. View more at Opiliones Checklist: Harvestmen.

  84. Cave huntsman spider (Heteropoda sp.) - P7084730
  85. Cave huntsman spider (Heteropoda sp.)

    The cave walls also had some giant huntsman spiders. We were lucky to see some at eye-level. View more at Sparassidae Checklist: Huntsman Spiders.

  86. Longhorn beetle (Pterolophia viridegrisea) - P7084774
  87. Longhorn beetle (Pterolophia viridegrisea)

    We didn’t find many longhorn beetles at Mulu, but of the few that we found, they were really remarkable. This had a lovely shade of lime green with ornate patterns. View more at Cerambycidae Checklist: Longhorn Beetles.

  88. Harvestman (Assamiidae) - P7095410
  89. Harvestman (Assamiidae)

    I’ve had many lifer harvestmen from this trip. This assamiid was common but it bears distinctive tiger stripes.

  90. Lantern bug (Scamandra polychroma) - P7095023
  91. Lantern bug (Scamandra polychroma)

    Every morning, I walked about 5km to scan the trees for Pyrops cultellatus, a lantern bug that’s entirely green. I didn’t find any but was lucky to find Scamandra polychroma during one of the hikes.

  92. Lantern bug (Pyrops intricatus) - P7095041
  93. Lantern bug (Pyrops intricatus)

    I was expecting this pair of Pyrops intricatus to mate but gave up on waiting after half a day. They just…. stayed next to each other all day.

  94. Flooded boardwalk at Mulu National Park - IMG_20230709_105259
  95. Flooded Boardwalk

    Unfortunately it rained heavily every day and night and we had only a few hours to shoot in each morning. The trails were so heavily flooded that we couldn’t even see the raised boardwalks at some spots.

  96. Stick insect (Orthonecroscia fuscoannulata) - P7095419
  97. Stick insect (Orthonecroscia fuscoannulata)

    We had some respite from the rain on the final night, where Paul found this dazzlingly colourful stick insect. It was really skittish and took flight several times while I took some record shots.

  98. Harvestman (Gagrellinae) - P7095569
  99. Harvestman (Gagrellinae)

    One of the numerous beautiful species of harvestmen from the trails.

  100. Wandering spider (Acantheis sp.) - P7095707
  101. Wandering spider (Acantheis sp.)

    I last saw an Acantheis like this back in Tawau. This individual seemed smaller but had more colours on its abdomen.

  102. Pill millipede (Glomerida) - P7095656
  103. Pill millipede (Glomerida)

    I found a very slow moving pill millipede on a tree, and mistook it for an isopod initially.

  104. Woodlouse (Adinda sp.) - P8116922
  105. Woodlouse (Adinda sp.)

    Paul found some impressive looking scleropactids in the crevices of some vines. I guess all the flooding forced them to climb up the trees. View more at Isopoda Checklist: Pillbugs & Sowbugs and Isopod.Site.

  106. Longhorn beetle (Glenea pulchra) - P7105902
  107. Longhorn beetle (Glenea pulchra)

    Before we left Mulu, I did a quick hike to look for the lantern bug again, but found this longhorn beetle instead.

  108. Velvet ant (Trogaspidia sp.) - P8076716
  109. Velvet ant (Trogaspidia sp.)

    Mating velvet ants have been on my wish list for the longest time. During a seemingly uneventful hike, I managed to get some decent close-ups of this amorous pair!

  110. Treehopper (Centrochares sp.) - P8247193
  111. Treehopper (Centrochares sp.)

    I saw sightings of this rabbit-eared treehopper at Pulau Ubin online and took a few hours off work one morning to look for it. It took quite a long while but I found it eventually thanks to some help from Janice Ang. View more at Membracidae Checklist: Treehoppers.

  112. Tortoise beetle (Aspidimorpha deusta) - P9168190
  113. Tortoise beetle (Aspidimorpha deusta)

    Thanks to directions from Michelle Chun, I got a rather easy tortoise beetle lifer and managed to document this species in almost all of its life stages.

  114. Hairy comb-footed spider (cf. Argyrodes sp.) - P9178596
  115. Hairy comb-footed spider (cf. Argyrodes sp.)

    While observing a female Macracantha on its web, this was hanging around as well. I thought that it was a typical kleptoparasite but it turned out to be a really hairy specimen that I’ve never seen before. View more at Theridiidae Checklist: Comb-Footed Spiders.

  116. Springtail (Dicranocentroides sp.) - P9168468
  117. Springtail (Dicranocentroides sp.)

    While messing around with the leaf litter, we found lots of pretty little springtails.

  118. Two-eye tarantula (Mygalomorphae) - P9178539
  119. Two-eye tarantula (Euagridae)

    Also from the leaf litter was this tiny mygalomorph that has only 2 eyes. It could belong to the family Euagridae but we’ve yet to find a mature specimen so the ID is provisional.

  120. Tailless whip scorpion (Sarax sp.) - P6161702
  121. Tailless whip scorpion (Sarax sp.)

    Finally got a chance to see the small species of tailless whip scorpion carrying a rather large juvenile.

  122. Jumping spider (Chrysilla acerosa) - P9067863
  123. Jumping spider (Chrysilla acerosa)

    During a family trip to Hong Kong, I took a side trip to the park for about 2 hours with Marco and Jimmy and we found lots of pretty jumping spiders!

  124. Jumping spider (Irura bidenticulata) - P9067843
  125. Jumping spider (Irura bidenticulata)

    We were trying to find the caterpillar-mimic jumping spider Uroballus carlei but didn’t have any luck. There were lots of other colourful jumping spiders though!

  126. Palp-footed spider (Boagrius sp.) - PA099453
  127. Palp-footed spider (Boagrius sp.)

    Palpimanids had eluded me for many years in Asia. But in this year alone, I saw several of them from sifting the leaf litter. Really cute eyes!

  128. Purse web spider (Calommata sp.) - PA109610
  129. Purse web spider (Calommata sp.)

    While assisting Peter Schwendinger in a field trip, he kindly showed us a juvenile purse web spider. The jaws were amazingly huge and this shot shows the venom at the tip of its fangs. Next, I’ll have to find and document its web.

  130. Blue ant (Paraparatrechina malaccana) - PA109748
  131. Blue ant (Paraparatrechina malaccana)

    Lucky find from the leaf litter! Not many blue ants around…

  132. Jumping spider (cf. Cytaea sp.) - PA240130
  133. Jumping spider (cf. Cytaea sp.)

    This was not shot in the wild, but intercepted from the spider lab. Can’t get any blue-er than this!

  134. Jumping spider (Mantisatta longicauda) - PA240050
  135. Jumping spider (Mantisatta longicauda)

    Also from the spider lab, Mantisatta had been on my wish list for a very long time. I’ll need to find them in the wild next!

  136. Long-legged velvet mite with mites (Callidosomatinae) - PB040751
  137. Long-legged velvet mite with mites (Callidosomatinae)

    Mite-ception. Here’s a shot of a mite getting a taste of its own medicine.

  138. Millipede (Diplopoda) - PB040778
  139. Millipede (Diplopoda)

    Vincent found this pair of mating millipedes in a very nice position.

  140. Mite-mimicking harvestman (Stylocellidae) - PB121694
  141. Mite-mimicking harvestman (Stylocellidae)

    Paul found this tiny little harvestman which we mistook for a mite. No eyes and completely bizarre-looking.

  142. Giant dead leaf mantis (Deroplatys desiccata) - PB111226
  143. Giant dead leaf mantis (Deroplatys desiccata)

    Selfie by a giant dead leaf mantis.

  144. Pseudoscorpion (Lagynochthonius sp.) - PB121611
  145. Pseudoscorpion (Lagynochthonius sp.)

    This is a rare pseudoscorpion found only from the leaf litter. Unfortunately this individual was ridiculously tiny and couldn’t sit still.

  146. Huntsman spider (Thelcticopis sp.) - PB110985-stereo
  147. Huntsman spider (Thelcticopis sp.)

    Throughout the year, I’ve been taking stereogram shots to see the subjects in 3D. Some day I’ll put everything together and write an article about it. To view the photo, make sure the width of the photo is just smaller than the width of your face — it must not be wider than your two eyes. View from a comfortable distance and focus beyond the photo until the two images merge together.

  148. Wachirathan Waterfall - IMG_20231118_105617_
  149. Wachirathan Waterfall

    In November, we finally did a trip to Doi Inthanon in Northern Thailand in hopes of documenting some unique highland spider species. Many thanks to Pakawin for generously organising and paying for the trip!

  150. Funnel web spider (Macrothelidae) - PB181972
  151. Funnel web spider (Macrothelidae)

    Several Macrothele were found at the roadside. This one was obviously angry with me…

  152. Tarantula (Cyriopagopus sp.) - PB181991
  153. Tarantula (Cyriopagopus sp.)

    While we were photographing this Cyriopagopus (not in situ), our driver wanted to catch it to eat, believing that it’d boost his vitality. It could be due to the lack of protein in their olden days when they felt some difference after consuming tarantulas…? No, the driver did not manage to catch it eventually. 😜

  154. Planthopper (Loxocephala unipunctata) - PB182155
  155. Planthopper (Loxocephala unipunctata)

    Unfortunately, the end of the year was also the end of the season for lantern bugs. However, we were lucky to find this multi-coloured Loxocephala unipunctata.

  156. Longhorn beetle (Rosalia formosa) - PB182374
  157. Longhorn beetle (Rosalia formosa)

    We found 2 of these stunning orange longhorn beetles.

  158. Giant armored spider (Perania sp.) - PB182454
  159. Giant armored spider (Perania sp.)

    We thought that the habitat was ideal for Perania. True enough, we found this male along the embankment, showing the distinct “nose”.

  160. Armored trapdoor spider (Liphistius yamasakii) - PB182330
  161. Armored trapdoor spider (Liphistius yamasakii)

    Our main target for the first night was this Liphistius. It was much more active than those found in Fraser’s Hill, coming out very readily when any movement is sensed outside its burrow. This was shot using a custom relay system with a cctv lens.

  162. Comb-footed spider (Chrysso cf. scintillans) - PB182651
  163. Comb-footed spider (Chrysso cf. scintillans)

    This species of Chrysso was quite common, we’ve seen many of them over the next few days at Doi Inthanon.

  164. Golden tortoise beetle (Aspidimorpha sp.) - PB192733
  165. Golden tortoise beetle (Aspidimorpha sp.)

    Amber spotted this dazzling golden tortoise beetle near to our rooms.

  166. Harvestman (Sclerosomatidae) - PB192838b
  167. Harvestman (Sclerosomatidae)

    Also near to our rooms, we found several harvestmen. This had a unique dinosaur-like dorsal humps and when observed closer, had tubercles around its eyes like stubby eyelashes.

  168. Blue earth-boring beetle (Enoplotrupes sharpi) - PB192997
  169. Blue earth-boring beetle (Enoplotrupes sharpi)

    Near the summit, this blue dung beetle can easily be spotted flying around in the mornings.

  170. Orchid mantis nymph (Hymenopus coronatus) - PB193365
  171. Orchid mantis nymph (Hymenopus coronatus)

    We were also very pleasantly surprised to find the white orchid mantis nymph! According to recent studies, the flattened legs served to help the mantids glide further when escaping and had nothing to do with camouflage among orchids.

  172. Ground spider (Euryeidon sp.) - PB193423
  173. Ground spider (Euryeidon sp.)

    Paul found a few of these big-headed zodariids on the trees.

  174. Lantern bug (Penthicodes atomaria) - PB203566
  175. Lantern bug (Penthicodes atomaria)

    Alvin walked a little further from our rooms and found a common lantern bug species Penthicodes atomaria, which can also be found in Malaysia.

  176. Springtail (Dicranocentroides sp.) - PB203511
  177. Springtail (Dicranocentroides sp.)

    Paul found this magnificent springtail with fuzzy pompoms as antennae.

  178. Boxer mantis nymph (Ceratomantis saussurii) - PB203492
  179. Boxer mantis nymph (Ceratomantis saussurii)

    We saw at least 3 of these boxer mantids in front of our rooms.

  180. Armored trapdoor spider (Liphistius bristowei) - PB193437
  181. Armored trapdoor spider (Liphistius bristowei)

    By some uncanny luck, Paul found this Liphistius bristowei on a tree trunk behind some moss. We were so excited that we had to drag Pakawin out from his room.

  182. Orb weaver spider (Araneidae) - PB203727
  183. Orb weaver spider (Araneidae)

    Initially thought to be Argiope, this is an unknown orb weaver that builds an orb web over large leaf surfaces.

  184. Shield-backed bug nymph (Scutelleridae) - PB204114
  185. Shield-backed bug nymph (Scutelleridae)

    At Royal Pagodas near the summit, Alvin showed me this metallic blue shield-backed bug. View more at Pentatomoidea Checklist: Shield Bugs & Stink Bugs.

  186. Snout mite (Bdellidae) - PB204080
  187. Snout mite (Bdellidae)

    Also from the Royal Pagoda, I found this interesting little snout mite along the metal railings.

  188. Dwarf orb weaver (Anapidae) - PB204007
  189. Dwarf orb weaver (Anapidae)

    Anapids have been on my wish list for the longest time, and the hunt was even featured in a TV series that focused on my macro photography. I was really delighted to document these tiny orb weavers in their natural habitat, which in this case was inside crevices of fallen logs. Incidentally, the anapids all looked like angry bald men. I’m not the only one who sees that.

  190. Long-legged velvet mite (Leptus sp.) - PB204304
  191. Long-legged velvet mite (Leptus sp.)

    Paul found a sexy looking velvet mite with very nice patterns.

  192. Blind woodlouse (Exalloniscus thailandensis) - PB225514
  193. Blind woodlouse (Exalloniscus thailandensis)

    At a running trail, Paul also found these blind woodlice from rotten logs. They have no eyes and are completely white. These would commonly be mistaken to be from caves which are devoid of light.

  194. Jumping spider (Aelurillini) - PB204355
  195. Jumping spider (Aelurillini)

    A surprise find is this aelurilline with a funky hairdo and could be new to science.

  196. Trapjaw ant (Myrmoteras cf. opalinum) - PB204035
  197. Trapjaw ant (Myrmoteras cf. opalinum)

    I didn’t notice the trap jaws when taking record shots of this ant, until Paul found another specimen and pointed it out to me.

  198. Treehopper (Choucentrus sinensis) - PB204218
  199. Treehopper (Choucentrus sinensis)

    This treehopper is often found on plants covered with thorns. I had many thorns jammed up my fingers to get to them.

  200. Red velvet mite (Microtrombidiidae) - PB204275
  201. Red velvet mite (Microtrombidiidae)

    Another beautiful find by Paul, this is just… a tiny walking strawberry. 🙂

  202. Checkered beetle (Clerinae) - PB214541
  203. Checkered beetle (Clerinae)

    We revisited Siriphum Waterfall many times in hopes of seeing lantern bugs. But this velvet-ant mimicking checkered beetle landed on my sleeve instead.

  204. Malaysian moon moth (Actias maenas) - IMG_20231121_100348_
  205. Malaysian moon moth (Actias maenas)

    This is my first record of a lunar moth. Pictures from my camera were crap so here’s a shot from my mobile!

  206. Emperor moth (Rinaca thibeta) - IMG_20231122_082230_
  207. Emperor moth (Rinaca thibeta)

    I found this emperor moth in the toilet, and brought out with me to the trails where it fluttered off quickly and landed on this fern. Also shot from my mobile phone.

  208. Soldier aphid (Hormaphidinae) - PB214723
  209. Soldier aphid (Hormaphidinae)

    During our hike to Pha Dok Sieo, there were many soldier aphids on the railings. I had mistaken them to be pseudoscorpions initially.

  210. Turtle bug (Neocazira sp.) - PB215019
  211. Turtle bug (Neocazira sp.)

    This cryptic turtle bug got a few of us excited too.

  212. Hawkmoth caterpillar (Elibia dolichus) - PB215324
  213. Hawkmoth caterpillar (Elibia dolichus)

    Close-up of the pseudo-eye of a hawkmoth caterpillar.

  214. Trapdoor spider (Conothele martensi) - PB225607
  215. Trapdoor spider (Conothele martensi)

    On our final day, we tried some leaf litter sifting and was pleasantly surprised to find a Conothele!

  216. Ground spider (Storenomorpha sp.) - PB225548
  217. Ground spider (Storenomorpha sp.)

    Storenomorpha is another spider on my wish list for a long time. We found at least 5 individuals but surprisingly, 2 adult males were found behind our light trap when we were keeping the sheets. They look like little tarantulas that walk really slowly.

  218. Periscope orb weaver (Eriovixia sp.) - DSC_7650-20x-periscope-front
  219. Periscope orb weaver (Eriovixia sp.)

    Over a period of 3 months, I experimented with Laowa’s new Aurogon 10-50x Supermicro lens. This was my favorite shot of a live periscope orb weaver at 20x magnification. View the photo journal here: A Photographer’s Guide to Laowa Aurogon FF 10-50X NA0.5 Supermicro APO.

  220. Madagascan Sunset Moth (Chrysiridia rhipheus) - DSC_2262-Chrysiridia-rhipheus-50x-blue-spot-v2
  221. Madagascan Sunset Moth (Chrysiridia rhipheus)

    I also managed to do some test shots on preserved moth specimens at 50x magnification.

  222. Madagascan Sunset Moth (Chrysiridia rhipheus) - DSC_3996-Chrysiridia-rhipheus-50x-Gold-Black
  223. Madagascan Sunset Moth (Chrysiridia rhipheus)

    The scales of moths and butterflies can truly be breathtaking when viewed up close.

  224. Darkling beetle (Macrosynopticus costatus) - PC096290
  225. Darkling beetle (Macrosynopticus costatus)

    This unique looking tenebrionid was found on a fallen log.

  226. Handsome fungus beetle (Trochoideus desjardinsi) - PC096100
  227. Handsome fungus beetle (Trochoideus desjardinsi)

    I spent a very long time chasing this fungus beetle when I noticed its enlarged antennae. The only time when it stopped sprinting was when it was hiding under something, making it super frustrating to photograph.

  228. Handsome fungus beetle (Amphisternus vomeratus) - PC176814
  229. Handsome fungus beetle (Amphisternus vomeratus)

    This rarely seen fungus beetle has 2 “dorsal fins” on its elytra.

  230. Handsome fungus beetle (Cacodaemon hystricosus) - PC096180
  231. Handsome fungus beetle (Cacodaemon hystricosus)

    Cacodaemon has got to be one of my favorite genus of beetles. This is the second species in this post! Interestingly this species is commonly found with little mites on its elytra. There happens to be mite-like spots on its elytra as well.

  232. Wrap-around orb weaver (Talthybia sp.) - PC095977-rotation
  233. Wrap-around orb weaver (Talthybia sp.)

    To wrap it up, here’s a 360° animation of a wrap-around orb weaver to give you a good idea of how it conceals its silhouette when at rest. I took over 50 shots handheld to get the entire sequence.

Bye Bye 2023

2023 has been very productive, largely due to the few trips I had to neighbouring countries. I’m not sure if I’m able to go on as many trips in 2024 but one can hope and one can plan until it becomes a reality. So… Vietnam perhaps?

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  1. Reply

    Robert Parks

    4 January 2024

    I always enjoy your pictures. Thanks

  2. Reply

    Clay Bolt

    5 January 2024

    Beautiful work, Nicky.



Hi my name is Nicky Bay. I am a macro photographer, instructor and book author, travelling the world to document the vast micro biodiversity that nature has to offer. Follow my updates and discover with me the incredible beauty and science behind our planet's micro creatures!

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