A sting in the tail


Photographs reveals an insect’s hidden weapon.


Venom on the tip of a hornet's stinger.

Venom on the tip of a hornet's stinger.

Pierre Anquet/Nikon Small World

Blink and you’ll miss it, but if it touches you, you’ll certainly feel it. This image shows a microscopic bubble of venom poised on the tip of the stinger of an Asian hornet (Vespa velutina), just before it is delivered forcefully into either prey or potential predator.

The picture was taken by Pierre Anquet from La Tour-du-Crieu in France, and was among the prize-winners in the 2018 Nikon Small World photomicrography competition.

The competition attracted 2500 entries from 89 countries. More of them can be seen at Nikon Small Worlds website.

  1. http://www.nikonsmallworld.com
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