The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS -

THEY could eas­ily be colour­ful char­ac­ters from the lat­est an­i­mated Disney movie but these in­cred­i­ble in­sects are real.

A jaw-drop­ping se­ries of pho­tos has put the fas­ci­nat­ing minia­ture world of “minibeasts” un­der the mi­cro­scope, al­low­ing a close- up in­sight into what re­ally is a bug’s life.

Among the horde of cheer­ful crit­ters is the tiny mon­key grass- hop­per, which is only 15mm long and a pop­u­lar tar­get for an ar­ray of preda­tors. Luck­ily, the cheeky chap has two huge eyes that pro­vide a great field of view so it can eas­ily bounce out of the way at the first sign of dan­ger.

On the other end of the scale is the quite happy-look­ing gum­leafleaf katy­did, who de­spite a friendly ap­pear­ance is re­ally a smil­ing as­sas­sin.

This fear­some preda­tor of the in­sect world is able to catch and dis­mem­ber other bugs as large as it­self. It uses a com­bi­na­tion of great vi­sion and chem­i­cal sens­ing via its an­ten­nae to de­tect its prey be­fore launch­ing an at­tack.

The se­ries of im­ages come from Aus­tralian in­sect ex­pert and pho­tog­ra­pher Alan Hen­der­son’s new book Minibeasts, which uses

macro pho­tog­ra­phy y to get read­ers up close and per­sonal with a whole range of creepy crawlies in their nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment across the coun­try

Hen­der­son, who op­er­ates Minibeast Wildlife, a team of bug ex­perts based in far north Queens­land, felt in­spired to cre­ate the book to teach peo­ple how im­por­tant in­sects are to our sur­vival.

“As small as these an­i­mals are,

they are crit­i­cally im­por­tant,” Hen­der­son ex­plains.

“With­out them, the world as we know it would come to a grind­ing halt.

“The roles they play are linked to all other liv­ing things. Plants rely on them as pol­li­na­tors so they can re­pro­duce.

“With­out them, it’s not just forests and nat­u­ral habi­tats we would lose, but many of the crops we eat as well.”

Among the top­ics cov­ered in the book are the jobs minibeasts per­form that are im­por­tant to the ecosys­tem, as well as the ways in which they have evolved to suit their en­vi­ron­ments. It also in­cludes de­tail about how hu­mans bor­row ideas from the lit­tle crea­tures in sev­eral fields, in­clud­ing biotech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and de­sign.

A cone­head katy­did (Copiphorini)A wolf spi­der (Ly­cosid

A giant rain­for­est man­tis.

dae)A mon­key grasshop­per. A gum­leaf katy­did.

A male pea­cock jump­ing spi­der.

A seed-eat­ingkaty­did.

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