Pair of Sleeping Bees Wins Insect Photography Contest

Close-up image of two cuckoo bees resting on thin twigs, facing each other against a blurred, colorful background. The bees display intricate patterns of black, white, and brown stripes on their bodies.
Two cuckoo bees asleep with their mandibles clinging onto the grass. Overall winner. | Luke Chambers

The Royal Entomological Society has announced the winners of its 2023 insect photography competition.

Announced during Insect Week (which runs 24-30 June), the annual competition, organized by the U.K.-based leading insect science charity, showcases the very best amateur insect photography.

It attracts entries from around the world from keen photographers of all ages, helping bring often-overlooked the miniature world of insects into sharp focus.

The overall winner in the “18 and over” category is Luke Chambers for his image Sleeping Cuckoos which depicts two cuckoo bees resting on a blade of grass.

“Something I didn’t expect to see when I visited a fairly new location to me, but one of my best encounters to date,” Chambers says of the winning image.

“Finding any sleeping invertebrate is always brilliant, but two so close together, well that’s like winning the photography lottery!”

This image shows recently hatched caddisfly larvae inside a transparent gelatinous egg sac.
This image shows recently hatched caddisfly larvae inside a transparent gelatinous egg sac. The larvae will drop into the water where they live as aquatic insects throughout the larval and pupal stages. Overall Runner-up. | Tim Jonas

Portrait Category

Close-up photo of a green mantis peeking through soft pink petals, with its yellowish eyes and detailed antennae clearly visible. The background is a blur of vibrant pink and green, enhancing the mantis's vivid color and intricate details.
A mantis religiosa among some cyclamen. Specially Commended in the Portrait category. | Panagiotis Dalagiorgos
Close-up of a vibrant shield bug on a green plant. The bug has a distinctive pattern of blue, yellow, and black stripes on its back, contrasting against a blurred yellow background. The intricate colors and textures are clearly visible.
This is a portrait of an aptly-named Picasso bug from Ruiru in Kenya. Specially Commended in the Portrait category. | Robin Backhouse
Close-up of a dragonfly's face with large, green compound eyes, covered in tiny water droplets. The dragonfly is perched on a green plant stem, with a blue background visible. The detailed shot highlights the intricate textures and colors of the insect.
A Damselfly covered in dew in the middle of the night. Insects are cold-blooded, so as the temperature cools at night, they are unable to move. Dew then sticks to the Damselfly and covers it completely. Specially Commended in the Portrait category. | Pete Burford
Close-up image of a wasp clinging to a green plant. The wasp's detailed yellow and black striped body is visible, along with its large eyes and antennae. The plant has slender branches and small leaves, emphasizing the intricate details of the wasp.
A wasp found settled in a conifer tree. Specially Commended in the Portrait category. | Steven Mahy
Silhouette of a butterfly perched on a blade of grass against a large, glowing orange sun setting in the background. The dark outlines highlight the delicate details of the butterfly and grass, contrasting with the vibrant, warm colors of the sunset.
The sun is rising behind a Brown argus butterfly as it starts to awaken from roosting. Specially Commended in the Portrait category. | Richard Sheldrake

Environment Category

A silhouette of a praying mantis perched on a plant stalk is seen against a soft pink and purple sunset. A blurry sun is near the horizon in the background, creating a serene and peaceful atmosphere.
A praying mantis saluting the evening sun. Specially Commended in the Environment category. | Leela Channer
A close-up image of a lime-green moth with delicate white lines and markings on its wings. The moth is resting on a textured wooden surface with small patches of green moss. The intricate patterns on its wings blend harmoniously with its natural surroundings.
This photo features a beautiful Wavy-lined Emerald Moth sitting on a mossy log. Specially Commended in the Environment category. | Alexander McKerracher
A vibrant yellow moth with brown and pink markings on its wings perches on a twig. The moth's wings display eye-like spots and intricate patterns. Lush green leaves frame the scene against a black background.
A golden emperor moth rests on a perch after gliding in the summer night. Specially Commended in the Environment category. | Marco Chan

Behavior Category

A close-up of a dead bee lying on its back on granular sand. The image highlights the detailed texture and color of the bee's body, legs, and antennae. The bee's eyes and fine hairs on its body are also visible.
A male and female Ferruginous Bee embrace in a post-mating cuddle. Specially Commended in the Behavior category. | Luke Chambers
Close-up of numerous ants and winged insects clustered together on a light green surface. The ants appear to be carrying or interacting with the winged insects, which may be dead or incapacitated. The scene is chaotic with overlapping bodies and wings.
Swarm of flying ants desperate in a pool. Specially Commended in the Behavior category. | Rosemary Haleem
A close-up of a cluster of brightly colored insects with vibrant, iridescent red, blue, and green patterns covering their bodies. The insects are closely packed together, showcasing their intricate and vivid exoskeleton designs.
A cluster of male harlequin bugs. Specially Commended in the Behavior category. | Nikita Richardson

The “Under 18” category overall winner is 17-year-old Swedish photographer Gustav Parenmark for his image Tranquility that shows a banded demoiselle damselfly at rest.

“Waking up early is the key to photographing sleeping odonates. This species of damselfly is usually very skittish, but I went out at 4 a.m. to capture them inactive, making them easier to photograph,” says Parenmark, who is a previous winner in the annual competition.

Under 18 Category

Close-up of a dragonfly with iridescent green and blue body and translucent wings, perched on a green blade of grass. The background is softly blurred, highlighting the delicate details of the insect.
A demoiselle by a river in Sweden. Overall winner of the Under 18 category. | Gustav Parenmark
A close-up of a black fly with translucent wings perched on a curved purple flower bud. The background is blurred with shades of green and yellow, highlighting the insect and flower.
A fly is seen eating another fly. Runner up in the Under 18 category. | Jamie Smart

Smartphone Category

A close-up shot of a wasp in mid-flight with a blurred background featuring a green cup and saucer. The background is out of focus, highlighting the details of the wasp, including its yellow and black striped abdomen and translucent wings.
A wasp with a penchant for cream tea. Specially Commended in the Smartphone category. | Abi Batten

To see all of the winners, head to the Royal Entomological Society’s insect photo competition page.