Malaysia’s Top 100 Macro Shots from 2015

30 December 2015

Malaysia has some of the most dazzling arthropod life. The Borneo rainforest is 140 million years old, making it one of the oldest rainforests in the world and home to countless species of macro photography subjects, many of which are still undescribed. In this post, I’ll showcase 100 of the memorable shots from Malaysia that I’ve taken in 2015. Please enjoy this photo series. 🙂

I made 4 short photography trips to Malaysia in 2015, and they were all very fruitful! Some of the fauna are similar to that in Singapore, but each trip certainly brought me many lifers. Two of the trips were to the venue of the Borneo Bootcamp in Tawau, one was a night trip to Johor, and one to Fraser’s Hill in Pahang.

Due to the sheer number of photographs taken, I’ve done my 2015 summary in individual posts separated by country. Do check out my other 2015 roundup posts as well:

    Hemiptera – True Bugs

    Lantern bug (Pyrops whiteheadi) - DSC_3952b
  1. Lantern bug (Pyrops whiteheadi)

    One of the most brightly coloured lantern bugs of Borneo. It is relatively easy to spot P. whiteheadi when they are in season.

  2. Lantern bug (Pyrops sidereus) - DSC_3088
  3. Lantern bug (Pyrops sidereus)

    Some of the lantern bugs have distinct host trees, and the chances of finding them would be much higher with an experienced guide.

  4. Lantern bug (Pyrops sultanus) - DSC_5646
  5. Lantern bug (Pyrops sultanus)

    I had photographed this lantern bug before in previous years, so a different approach was taken this time round.

  6. Planthopper (Penthicodes sp.) - DSC_3540
  7. Planthopper (Penthicodes sp.)

    Found this fulgorid planthopper off the trail, looks close to the one we see in Singapore but this was much darker, possibly faded.

  8. Net-winged planthopper (Nogodinidae) - DSC_4311
  9. Net-winged planthopper (Nogodinidae)

    A bit of back-lighting to highlight the transparent wings.

  10. Pill-like planthopper (Hemisphaerius sp.) - DSC_4157
  11. Pill-like planthopper (Hemisphaerius sp.)

    There were several of these pill-like planthoppers along the paths in Tawau, but this had the most colourful patterns!

  12. Eurybrachyid planthopper (Eurybrachyidae) - DSC_4250
  13. Eurybrachyid planthopper (Eurybrachyidae)

    Lateral view reveals a bright red abdomen in this stunning planthopper.

  14. Giant shield bug (Tessaratomidae) - DSC_3224
  15. Giant shield bug (Tessaratomidae)

    Some of the most colourful shield bugs could be found here in Borneo. We found one just outside the toilet.

  16. Giant shield bug nymph (Tessaratomidae) - DSC_3836
  17. Giant shield bug nymph (Tessaratomidae)

    Another shield bug nymph at the bottom of the bridge and had us excited and queuing up!

  18. Giant shield bug (Tessaratomidae) - DSC_3842
  19. Giant shield bug (Tessaratomidae)

    An adult shield bug was spotted behind the cabins, and we found it to be laying eggs! She had beautiful textures on her dorsal body with green metallic pits!

  20. Giant shield bug nymph (Tessaratomidae) - DSC_4885
  21. Giant shield bug nymph (Tessaratomidae)

    While we took at break by the tree, this exotic little shield bug nymph had followed us all the way up! We brought it back down to where we found it near our cabins.

  22. Thread-legged assassin bug (Emesinae) - DSC_4398
  23. Thread-legged assassin bug (Emesinae)

    Found a furry looking thread-legged assassin bug! Stunning looking creature and a definite pain to focus when it decides to move all the time.

  24. Masked hunter assassin bug (Reduviidae) - DSC_3898
  25. Masked hunter assassin bug (Reduviidae)

    On the tree trunks, we found the masked hunter, an assassin bug that piles debris upon itself to conceal its shape.

  26. Araneae – Spiders

    Funnel weaver spider (Agelenidae) - DSC_5848
  27. Funnel weaver spider (Agelenidae)

    My first record for this family, appears to be quite common in certain parts of Fraser’s Hill.

  28. St Andrew's cross spider (Argiope reinwardti) - DSC_5599
  29. St Andrew’s cross spider (Argiope sp.)

    Also from Fraser’s Hill, this belongs to a unique group of Argiope with a sparse to hairless carapace.

  30. St Andrew's cross spider (Argiope doleschalli) - DSC_6029
  31. St Andrew’s cross spider (Argiope sp.)

    A much larger Argiope that Tan Ji found – check out the shiny carapace! The carapace of most other Argiope would be covered with silvery hairs.

  32. Wrap-around spider (Talthybia sp.) - DSC_5017
  33. Wrap-around spider (Talthybia sp.)

    A magnificent specimen of a wrap-around spider right in front of the cabins in Tawau. The abdomen has a peculiar vertical protrusion.

  34. Big-headed bark spider (Caerostris sp.) - DSC_5046
  35. Big-headed bark spider (Caerostris sp.)

    Spiders from this genus are always stunners, providing captivating portraits for us.

  36. Trashline orb web spider (Cyclosa sp.) - DSC_4161b
  37. Trashline orb web spider (Cyclosa sp.)

    Mesmerizing stabilimentum on a Cyclosa, with what looks like a captured prey.

  38. Longhorn orb web spider (Macracantha arcuata) - DSC_3851
  39. Longhorn orb web spider (Macracantha arcuata)

    Probably the longest horns on any spider in the region, the longhorn orb web spider is a common sight near to the cabins in Tawau.

  40. Long horned orb weaver (Macracantha arcuata) - DSC_4412
  41. Long horned orb weaver (Macracantha arcuata)

    Wide angle view of a white morph of Macracantha, one of the craziest looking spiders around.

  42. Spiny orb web spider (Gasteracantha sp.) - DSC_4039
  43. Spiny orb web spider (Gasteracantha sp.)

    Also found in front of where we stayed (lazy bums we are), this Gasteracantha has a stout, sclerotized abdomen.

  44. Lichen wandering spider (Acantheis sp.?) - DSC_5127
  45. Lichen wandering spider (Acantheis sp.)

    One of my favorite ctenids ever! Excellent camouflage on a mossy tree trunk and probably overlooked by most others.

  46. Unknown spider web - DSC_4145b
  47. Unknown spider web

    Possibly a tetragnathid, but have not been able to confirm the identity of this spider. It builds a horizontal orb web in constricted spaces, with a delightful array of stabilimentum.

  48. Black armored trapdoor spider (Liphistius malayanus) - DSC_6749
  49. Black armored trapdoor spider (Liphistius malayanus)

    Resident of Fraser’s Hill under ultraviolet. It is facing possible extinction due to poaching and collection. Surveys of the area have shown the sore absence of males and younger specimens. Given that the male does not travel far to find mates, the chances of procreation of this species is slim.

  50. Lynx spider (Hamadruas sp.) - DSC_3934
  51. Lynx spider (Hamadruas sp.)

    A lovely new batch of spiderlings crowding around their mother.

  52. Fishing spider (Nilus sp.) - DSC_3815
  53. Fishing spider (Nilus sp.)

    Found beside a river and very cooperative!

  54. Jumping spider (Salticidae) - DSC_3170
  55. Jumping spider (Salticidae)

    Small and plain looking, but super cute and gave me the innocent doe-eyed look.

  56. Jumping spider (Epeus sp.) - DSC_3887
  57. Jumping spider (Epeus sp.)

    Very common male Epeus with the “mohawk”, known for the elaborate display of colours.

  58. Big-jawed jumping spider (Parabathippus sp.) - DSC_4936
  59. Big-jawed jumping spider (Parabathippus sp.)

    Giant chelicerae makes me wonder if it can deal a painful bite?

  60. Jumping spider (Simaetha sp.) - DSC_3259
  61. Jumping spider (Simaetha sp.)

    Purplish and tiny, this turned out to be a beetle-mimic jumping spider! It even has golden palps to mimic the mouth parts of beetles.

  62. Huntsman spider (Sparassidae) - DSC_5372
  63. Huntsman spider (Sparassidae)

    Most colourful huntsman spider, ever. Found this huge beauty beside a river.

  64. Malaysian purple femur tarantula (Coremiocnemis hoggi) - DSC_5613
  65. Malaysian purple femur tarantula (Coremiocnemis hoggi)

    Another resident of Fraser’s Hill and named after Stephen Hogg, who now runs a guesthouse there. Do check out Stephen’s Place and it’s reviews if you plan to visit Fraser’s Hill. For nature lovers only!

  66. Tarantula (Theraphosidae) - DSC_2943
  67. Tarantula (Theraphosidae)

    We chased this tarantula around but it eventually disappeared into the leaf litter.

  68. Spiny comb-footed spider (Phoroncidia sp.) - DSC_5750
  69. Spiny comb-footed spider (Phoroncidia sp.)

    One of my favorite theridiids with an exceptionally spiny and odd-shaped abdomen.

  70. Crab spider (Pharta sp.) - DSC_3257
  71. Crab spider (Epidius sp.)

    The male of this crab spider has ridiculously long pedipalps, which could even be mistaken for its legs.

  72. Bird dung crab spider (Phrynarachne sp.) - DSC_4263
  73. Bird dung crab spider (Phrynarachne sp.)

    An amazing bird dung mimic, it is able to weave its prey around itself to complement its camouflage.

  74. Ant-like sac spider (Utivarachna sp.) - DSC_2962
  75. Ant-like sac spider (Utivarachna sp.)

    A pale coloured Utivarachna, notably larger than what we find in Singapore.

  76. Arachnids – Scorpions, Whipscorpions, Harvestmen, etc. (except spiders)

    Blue harvestman (Opiliones) - DSC_4466
  77. Harvestman (Opiliones)

    Who would have imagined that a harvestman could be blue?

  78. Harvestman ultraviolet animation (Opiliones) - DSC_4349_uv
  79. Harvestman ultraviolet animation (Opiliones)

    Here’s how one looked like before and after exposure to ultraviolet.

  80. Whip scorpion (Thelyphonida) - DSC_3021
  81. Whip scorpion (Thelyphonida)

    We saw a vinegaroon, or whip scorpion. Didn’t disturb it, so we didn’t smell like vinegar. 🙂

  82. Pseudoscorpion (Pseudoscorpionida) - DSC_4238
  83. Pseudoscorpion (Pseudoscorpionida)

    The pseudoscorpion clings on very tightly, hoping to hitch a ride. It probably hasn’t figured out that it was clinging onto a shield bug nymph… without wings…

  84. Giant black forest scorpion (Heterometrus sp.) - DSC_5272
  85. Giant black forest scorpion (Heterometrus sp.)

    A giant black forest scorpion fluorescing brightly under ultraviolet.

  86. Tick (Ixodida) - DSC_6092
  87. Tick (Ixodida)

    This tick was sucking the blood of Adam, so we made him sit still while we took close ups of it. 🙂

  88. Hymenoptera – Bees, Wasps, Ants

    Golden blue ant (Polyrhachis sp.) - DSC_3429
  89. Golden blue ant (Polyrhachis sp.)

    These ants were brilliantly coloured with a metallic blue abdomen.

  90. Fish hook ant (Polyrhachis ypsilon) - DSC_3477
  91. Fish hook ant (Polyrhachis ypsilon)

    Traced one of them that paused for a while, long enough to take some record shots.

  92. Wasp sharing a meal with ant - DSC_3413
  93. Wasp sharing a meal with ant

    Another scene that attracted our attention! Gathering of 3 different predators, but the poor orthopteran was at the bottom of this food chain.

  94. Cuckoo wasp (Loboscelidia sp.) - DSC_3721
  95. Cuckoo wasp (Loboscelidia sp.)

    Looks like a winged ant, but turned out to be a cuckoo wasp that is not often seen.

  96. Coleoptera – Beetles

    Rhino beetle (Dynastinae) - DSC_5397
  97. Rhino beetle (Dynastinae)

    This rhino beetle flew to us near the cabin in Tawau, which gave us the opportunity to take some wide angle shots when we were checking out on the last day.

  98. Rhino beetle (Dynastinae) - DSC_5821
  99. Rhino beetle (Dynastinae)

    This was attracted to our lights at Fraser’s Hill, kept flying! Eyes illuminated with ultraviolet.

  100. Trilobite beetle larva (Platerodrilus sp.) - DSC_2938
  101. Trilobite beetle larva (Platerodrilus sp.)

    This was found on several fallen logs in Tawau, probably a different species from those in Singapore.

  102. Trilobite beetle larva (Platerodrilus sp.) - DSC_6050
  103. Trilobite beetle larva (Platerodrilus sp.)

    A lankier trilobite beetle larva, this can also be found in Singapore.

  104. Lizard beetle (Languriidae) - DSC_3184
  105. Lizard beetle (Languriidae)

    A highly reflective lizard beetle.

  106. Rove beetle (Aleocharinae) - DSC_5077
  107. Rove beetle (Aleocharinae)

    Couldn’t figure out the shape until I saw the close ups, which revealed the flipped abdomen.

  108. Tiger beetle (Cicindelinae) - DSC_5193
  109. Tiger beetle (Cicindelinae)

    Saw a few of these tiger beetles but only managed to shoot one successfully.

  110. Tiger beetle (Cylindera sp.) - DSC_5769
  111. Tiger beetle (Cylindera sp.)

    One of the most stunning tiger beetles around!

  112. Leaf beetle (Chrysomelidae) - DSC_4982
  113. Leaf beetle (Chrysomelidae)

    Common leaf beetle but with a metallic body.

  114. Jewel beetle (Endelus sp.) - DSC_5960
  115. Jewel beetle (Endelus sp.)

    Super tiny but brilliant jewel beetle, unfortunately also a very skittish one. Saw one with golden head and thorax at an adjacent plant.

  116. Palm weevil (Cercidocerus sp.) - DSC_3156
  117. Palm weevil (Cercidocerus sp.)

    A black weevil got Dennis really excited near the garden entrance, but it was this that got him going OMG OMG OMG OMG. I tend to imagine the antennae of this weevil to be window wipers! 🙂

  118. Weevils (Curculionidae) - DSC_3969
  119. Weevils (Curculionidae)

    Mating pair of weevils with interesting disc-like texture when viewed up close.

  120. Orthoptera – Katydids, Grasshoppers, Crickets

    Katydid (Tettigoniidae) - DSC_2810
  121. Katydid (Tettigoniidae)

    Looked like a muddy looking katydid from afar, but spotted a gradient of yellow-green-blue on the wing veins!

  122. Grasshopper (Caelifera) - DSC_2870
  123. Grasshopper (Caelifera)

    Hypnotising eyes…

  124. Katydid (Tettigoniidae) - DSC_2924
  125. Katydid (Tettigoniidae)

    Stunning katydid that flattens itself onto a leaf when threatened. It even looks a little bit dirty to complement the camouflage.

  126. Dead leaf grasshopper (Trigonopterygidae) - DSC_3666
  127. Dead leaf grasshopper (Trigonopterygidae)

    We found at least 3 different colour morphs of this dead leaf grasshopper within a small area.

  128. Grasshopper nymph (Caelifera) - DSC_4698
  129. Grasshopper nymph (Caelifera)

    A small little grasshopper hopped onto the lamp post, and looked surprisingly like a little toy!

  130. Grasshopper (Caelifera) - DSC_5376
  131. Grasshopper (Caelifera)

    Apparently quite common and colourful, but often missed out as it resembles many of the common grasshoppers.

  132. Monkey grasshopper (Erucius sp.) - DSC_5697
  133. Monkey grasshopper (Erucius sp.)

    Something that is not uncommon in Malaysia, but have not seen them in Singapore yet.

  134. Katydid (Tettigoniidae) - DSC_3648
  135. Katydid (Tettigoniidae)

    Katydid nymph with some fancy colours.

  136. Moss katydid (Tettigoniidae) - DSC_5505
  137. Moss katydid (Tettigoniidae)

    Camouflaged moss katydid, really amazing critter!

  138. Katydid (Tettigoniidae) - DSC_5261
  139. Katydid (Tettigoniidae)

    First time seeing such prominent spermatophores on a katydid.

  140. Katydid (Tettigoniidae) - DSC_5372
  141. Katydid (Tettigoniidae)

    From a distance, this looked like a random plain picture. Have you found the katydid yet? View a close up of the katydid.

  142. Katydid (Tettigoniidae) - DSC_4638
  143. Katydid (close to Olcinia sp. – ID suggested by Piotr Naskrecki)

    Kept confusing it between a katydid and stick insect. Very broad head for a katydid. Incredibly cryptic details!

  144. Mantodea – Mantises

    Hood mantis (Rhombodera valida) - DSC_6358
  145. Hood mantis (Rhombodera valida)

    A regal looking hooded mantis from Fraser’s Hill, shot with a fisheye lens.

  146. Dead leaf mantis (Deroplatys sp.) - DSC_3678
  147. Dead leaf mantis (Deroplatys sp.)

    A green morph of the dead leaf mantis. Mimicking a different not-so-dead leaf?

  148. Dead leaf mantis (Deroplatys sp.) - DSC_4259
  149. Dead leaf mantis (Deroplatys sp.)

    This dead leaf mantis was hanging out on our clothes lines… I could even try doing some back-lit shots!

  150. Bark mantis (Mantodea) - DSC_5474
  151. Bark mantis (Mantodea)

    Adult bark mantis found at our doorstep.

  152. Mantis (Pachymantis sp.?) - DSC_4011
  153. Mantis (Pachymantis sp.?)

    Looks similar to a Pachymantis. The forelegs were yellow and blue on the outside, and red on the inside!

  154. Bark horned mantis (Ceratocrania sp.) - DSC_4091
  155. Bark horned mantis (Ceratocrania sp.)

    Sadly, a dying horned mantis that had a radially twisted cone head!

  156. Phasmatodea – Stick Insects

    Stick insect (Phasmatodea) - DSC_5417
  157. Stick insect (Phasmatodea)

    An exaggerated wide angle perspective of a superbly camouflaged stick insect.

  158. Stick insects (Phasmatodea) - DSC_3549
  159. Stick insects (Phasmatodea)

    A beautiful pair of mating stick insects!

  160. Stick insect (Phasmatodea) - DSC_3920
  161. Stick insect (Haaniella sp.)

    A big fat stick, and it is just a nymph with undeveloped wings!

  162. Knob necked stick insect (Calvisia sp.?) - DSC_4535
  163. Knob necked stick insect (Calvisia sp.?)

    One of the most colourful stick insects that I have ever seen!

  164. Lepidoptera – Butterflies, Moths

    Five bar swordtail (Graphium antiphates) - DSC_3654
  165. Five bar swordtail (Graphium antiphates)

    I rarely shoot butterflies, but saw a sleeping five bar swordtail and couldn’t resist!

  166. Fairy longhorn moth (Nemophora sp.) - DSC_4100
  167. Fairy longhorn moth (Nemophora sp.)

    Found a beautiful cross-eyed fairy longhorn moth. We were afraid to spook it off and took quite a while to shoot it from a distance, before approaching closer.

  168. Diptera – Flies

    Robberfly (Asilidae) preying on Long-legged fly (Dolichopodidae) - DSC_5978
  169. Robberfly (Asilidae) preying on Long-legged fly (Dolichopodidae)

    Found near the waterfall at Fraser’s Hill.

  170. Mass mating crane flies (Tipulidae) - DSC_4016
  171. Mass mating crane flies (Tipulidae)

    Usually ignored, but this scene actually consists of SEVEN pairs of mating crane flies. (or more?!)

  172. Other Insects and Worms

    Black armored cockroach (Catara rugosicollis) - DSC_2977
  173. Black armored cockroach (Catara rugosicollis)

    The ones in Singapore gave off an odd scent when they felt threatened. Luckily this one didn’t give off any scent.

  174. Flat-backed Millipede (Platyrhacidae) - DSC_4769
  175. Flat-backed Millipede (Platyrhacidae)

    Wide angle view of a flat-backed millipede. Many thought it looked like the spine of some monster.

  176. Barklice (Psocoptera) - DSC_6073
  177. Barklice (Psocoptera)

    A fresh batch of hatchlings under a leaf, really cute littel jellybeans!

  178. Dobsonfly (Corydalinae) - DSC_4459
  179. Dobsonfly (Corydalinae)

    Back at the cabins, we found that a dobsonfly was still on the light trap! It didn’t stay for long, but I was fortunate enough to get some shots.

  180. Tiger leeches (Hirudinea) - DSC_5179
  181. Tiger leeches (Hirudinea)

    They found each other. One of us had over 10 leeches sucking blood off him in a night. Don’t go after me please…

  182. Amphibia & Reptilia – Frogs, Lizards, Snakes

    Giant river toad (Phrynoidis juxtasper) - DSC_5020
  183. Giant river toad (Phrynoidis juxtasper)

    Some of the toads by the river were huge, spanning 20cm in length.

  184. File-eared tree frog (Polypedates otilophus) - DSC_2807
  185. File-eared tree frog (Polypedates otilophus)

    Just chilling. Tree frogs have some of the cutest poses on branches.

  186. Dragon snake (Xenodermus javanicus) - DSC_4489
  187. Dragon snake (Xenodermus javanicus)

    On the way to our night trail, Tom spotted a very rare dragon snake.

  188. Harlequin flying frog (Rhacophorus pardalis) - DSC_4665
  189. Harlequin flying frog (Rhacophorus pardalis)

    We had fun lighting it up like a bulb, with Kerry holding my torch behind the frog.

  190. Malayan horned frog (Megophrys nasuta) - DSC_6119
  191. Malayan horned frog (Megophrys nasuta)

    A wide angle close up view of one of the most exotic looking frogs in this region.

  192. Gecko (Gekkota) - DSC_5671
  193. Gecko (Gekkota)

    Somehow this gecko found Adam’s hands. Didn’t let him dislodge the gecko til everyone got shots!

  194. Siamese peninsula pit viper (Popeia fucata) - DSC_6679
  195. Siamese peninsula pit viper (Popeia fucata)

    This pit viper was found above our heads while we were searching for spiders. It appeared almost ready to lunge towards us.

  196. Skink (Scincidae) - DSC_5736
  197. Skink (Scincidae)

    A curious view with a little smile.

  198. Great anglehead lizard (Gonocephalus grandis) - DSC_5711
  199. Great anglehead lizard (Gonocephalus grandis)

    A majestic great anglehead lizard sleeping on a branch at night, allowing everyone to take turns to shoot it.

If you’ve enjoyed this series, do check out my other 2015 roundups:

If you have any questions, please post in the comments below or contact me at [email protected].




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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