Fact Check

Is This the Real Face of an Ant?

Spoiler alert: It is terrifying.

Published Oct 20, 2022

Updated Oct 24, 2022
 (photochem_PA from State College, PA, USA/Wikimedia Commons)
Image Via photochem_PA from State College, PA, USA/Wikimedia Commons
A real close-up photograph of an ant also eerily resembles images from horror movies.
What's True

This is a closeup of a section of an ant's face.

What's False

But this closeup does not show all the facial features of the ant, including its eyes.

Fact Check

No, this photograph isn’t from a horror movie, nor is it some artistic rendering of an alien, nor is it an orc. The viral photograph below is a real life close-up shot of an ant's facial features.

Tweeted by filmmaker Rebekah McKendry, it shows “the very real face of an ant” with its antennae visible.

This is indeed a real photograph of a closeup of an ant's features by Lithuanian photographer Eugenijus Kavaliauskas, and it was a runner-up as an “Image of Distinction” in Nikon’s 2022 Photomicrography Competition. The ant in question belongs to the genus Camponotus or “carpenter ant.” You can see more of Kavaliauskas' photographs here, where he has taken more close-ups of insects and other creatures.

The top place went to an image of an embryonic hand of a Madagascar giant day gecko, awarded to Grigorii Timin, under the supervision of Michel Milinkovitch at the University of Geneva.

The red dots are not the ant's actual eyes, the real eyes are farther back on the insect's head as pointed out by IFL Science. This is a closeup of a section of the ant's face but not the full face. In a text message, Kavaliauskas told us, "This is just the front part of the portrait [...] the eyes are already in the shadow area. [...] if the eyes are illuminated, all the mystery disappears and the photograph appears ordinary and uninteresting."

You can check out the full list of winners and runners up in the Nikon Small World gallery here.


“2022 Photomicrography Competition.” Nikon Small World, https://www.nikonsmallworld.com/galleries/2022-photomicrography-competition. Accessed 20 Oct. 2022.

Eugenijus Kavaliauskas NatPhotographer. https://www.dantis.net/x3/portfolio/. Accessed 20 Oct. 2022.

Kooser, Amanda. “Demonic Close-up Photo of Ant Face Looks Like Something Straight Out of a Horror Movie.” CNET, https://www.cnet.com/science/creepy-close-up-photo-of-ant-face-is-straight-out-of-a-horror-movie/. Accessed 20 Oct. 2022.

“Nikon Photo Contest Reveals Fantastic Microscopic World That Surrounds Us.” NBC News, https://www.nbcnews.com/slideshow/nikon-photo-contest-reveals-fantastic-microscopic-world-surrounds-us-n1299748. Accessed 20 Oct. 2022.

“Turns Out People Are Not Huge Fans Of Ants’ Faces Up Close.” IFLScience, https://iflscience.com/turns-out-people-are-not-huge-fans-of-ant-s-faces-up-close-65862. Accessed 21 Oct. 2022.


21 Oct. 2022: Updated article to amend that it is a close up of ant's facial features, and not the full face.

21 Oct. 2022: Amended rating.

24 Oct. 2022: Added comment from photographer.

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a reporter with experience working in television, international news coverage, fact checking, and creative writing.