Whether it's the claws of a carnivorous caterpillar or the clashing mandibles of warring ants, the most fascinating insect-parts are often the smallest – and we love getting a good look. Macrophotography is one of the best ways to do just that, and the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab's collection offers some of the best close-up views of insects we've seen.

The Lab's Flickr album comprises over 1,200 macro-images captured by photographer and lab director Sam Droege at sites throughout the U.S., Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Droege's subjects include not just bees, but a variety of plants and insects that bees interact with. Above, for instance, is a head-on shot of a North American paper wasp, photographed in Beltsville, Maryland earlier this year. Like the dimple-riddled headgear of this stinkbug, the minute details of the wasp's head are revealed here through a photo-editing technique called "stacking."

Included here is a handful of our favorite shots, but you'll find a lot more on the USGS BIML's photostream.

All images and captions by Sam Droege via USGS.


Japanese Burrowing Cricket, Beltsville, MD, July 2012


Anthophora bomboides, male, May 2012, Allegany County, Maryland


Hoplisoides xerophilus, Cuba, GTMO Naval Base, 2012


Chrysochus auratus, dogbane beetle, Beltsville, Maryland, 2012


Eugloss dilemma, male, Florida, Biscayne National Monument, 2012


Unknown Wasp, Yellowstone National Park, 2012


Clerid Beetle, Enoclerus ichneumoneus, Prince George's County, Maryland, 2012


Leafhopper, Sharpshooter Collected in November 2012 Dominican Republic at high elevations in central highlands (yes, those are real colors)


Lace bug of unknown species, Beltsville, Maryland, 2013


Collops bipunctatus, taken from flowers in Badlands National Park, South Dakota


Unknown large weevil from Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic, 2013


Leptochilus acolhuus, Key Biscayne National Park, Florida


Fly, Fossil Butte National Monument, Wyoming

Huge hat tip to Joe Hanson for bringing this photo collection to our attention!