Meet the superbugs… The Donnie Darko lookalike, the velvet mite than can grow up to 2cm long and the indestructible “bear” that can even survive in space
There is only one creature known to man which can survive the ravages of deep space.
It is the water bear – officially known as the tardigrade – and despite being a fraction of a millimetre in length and mostly consigned to a lazy life exploring pond moss, it is almost indestructible.
You can freeze it at close to absolute zero – at minus 273C – or heat it to above 151C.
Or you could keep it without water for a decade, subject it to almost any kind of pressure, or send it into the radiation-filled vacuum of space where it can survive beyond ten days without any damage.
It is just one of the micro-sized and extraordinary bugs living in our back gardens – or even in our own bodies.
Hi! The water bear – the Arnold Schwarzenegger of the micro bug world – raises a smile to the camera
Magnified 500x: The green fronds seen here are tiny moss leaves
In this set of images, under a powerful microscope, shows them in an incredible new light.
Magnified tens of thousands of times, details not usually detected by the human eye are revealed with stunning clarity.
The animals are pictured using three-dimensional microscopes, which create the image by bouncing electrons off the specimen.
These show us almost human characteristics of the creatures, with the water bear, with its strange conical nose, appearing almost as if it is smiling after being magnified 500 times.
Another insect, called the springtail, bears an uncanny resemblance to a rabbit with its large ear-like feelers.
The hexapod, which is found in leaf litter, can jump a hundred times their body length in one leap.
Would this make you jump The springtail is one of the most abundant “micro-creature” on the planet, with an estimated 100,000 of them for each cubic metre of soil
Not so cute: A mosquito larva is viewed in close-up – magnified more than a thousand times – to show us the intricate details of its young face
Surprisingly large: Out of all the creatures here, the velvet mite can get quite big – up to 2cm in length
As yucky up close as you would expect: A maggot munches its way through compost
And a velvet mite, which lives in theupper layers of soil, seems much more intimidating than the larger tarantula after being magnified.
The predatory arachnid gets its name from the fine hairs that cover its body, giving it the appearance of velvet.
The silkworm and spikey-looking processionary moth caterpillar also form part of the collection.
Both can spin threads of silk and in the picture of the moth it is even possible to see the tiny hook-like feelers, called spinnerets, which help create the strands.
In one image a maggot appears almost demonic with it’s red eyes and in another a harmless bluebottle fly larva bears fang-like teeth.
A processionary moth caterpillar, found in south and central Europe, is not a friend to humans – it can cause skin irritation and asthma
It could be the brother of the creature above, but this is actually a silkworm moth caterpillar
This head louse is two millimetres long and inhabits the hair of the head. Each head louse female lays 80-100 eggs and the life cycle from egg to adult is only three weeks
Next time your cat scratches, you know what to blame: A cat flea pictured among cat hairs
Other pictures show a two millimetre blood-sucking human head louse nestled among hair, a cat flea and a menacing looking mosquito larva.
These images were taken by German-based scientific photographers Eye of Science using the latest high-tech equipment.
They are part of a huge database of images, the Science Photo Library in London, which are used for research, educational material and even as works of art.
You can almost read personality in its face: Instead this is the head of a maggot – the offspring of a bluebottle fly
The Rocky Mountain Wood tick swells up to monstrous sizes once it finds a human to feast on
Mark Abbott, from the Science Photo Library, said: “In the past these images would have been used solely for research.
“But it became of interest to the general public when subjects like CDs, insects and viruses were put under the microscope.
“Specimens come in from all over the world. Samples, which are invisible to the naked eye, are covered in gold leaf and then placed under the microscope.
“We’ve had an amazing response to the images. It really helps to communicate science with the general public – especially children.
“The images that show the scariest, largest and ugliest things are usually the most popular with the kids.”
Look away, children: This is a blood-filled tick, swollen in size after feeding on the blood of its mammal host
Video: Velvet mite in action