I've had some pretty good luck finding a selection of dead specimens recently... it's amazing what you can find in the undergrowth.
This stunning metallic bronze creature is a leaf beetle native to Europe and is definitely the hardest mini beast I've photographed so far... every millimetre of movement when positioning the insect and adjusting the lighting has a significant impact when photographing in extreme magnification (2.5x for this image) - and never more so when dealing with this beautifully reflective creature.
If you look at the bottom of the image you can see the leaf beetles wings poking out from under it's protective shell casing... it's thought that over time beetles evolved from having two pairs of wings (like most insects - bees, wasps, flies etc) to developing a hard protective case out of their first pair - in which they could hide their all important second set of wings.
Over time these shells have taken on numerous forms and display a huge range of the most elaborate of patterns - sometimes for attracting a member of the opposite sex, sometimes for camouflaging within the woodlands and grasslands.
In any case, and for whatever purpose, the detail revealed under high magnification shows them to be incredibly complex and beautiful microstructures.
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