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The majority of these samples were prepared by simply brushing pollen from a flower directly onto a sticky carbon pad on an aluminium stub and then sputtering with gold, without any attempt to dry the grains. In some cases, distortion of the specimen may have taken place, although the images remain interesting. In one or two cases Low Vacuum mode has been used, where the pollen was placed in the chamber without sputter coating.

Eyes and Heads of Spiders

This gallery illustrates the different arrangements of the eyes on different families of spider. Most species of spider have eight simple eyes, although some species have six. The number, relative size and disposition of the eyes are key identifiers to family level.

Sub-fossil Marine Material

This gallery shows photos of material excavated from either Syracuse in Sicily, or Sennen Cove in Cornwall. Help with identification of the specimens would be appreciated. (By sub-fossil I mean material that has not fully fossilised, because it is too young, or conditions were not right for fossilisation.)

Pseudoscorpion Chthonius ischnocheles

I was provided with some samples of Chthonius ischnocheles which enabled me to mount and image my first pseudoscorpion. During preparation I lost track of which loose jaws and pedipalps came from which side of the creature, and also some over-enthusiastic cleaning removed some of the setae. All part of the learning experience.

There are more pseudoscorpion images in the MIRA Galleries

Arachnid Tarsi and a Leg

This gallery shows the structure of the feet or “Tarsal Claws” of various arachnids, almost all spiders, with one mite. There is also a view of a spider leg showing the structure of the many hairs.

Fangs and Chelicerae of Spiders

Spiders catch their prey in jaw-like structures called chelicerae. These contain tooth-like nodules used to hold the prey and hollow fangs, through which the spider injects venom and other juices into its prey. The juices digest the muscle and guts of the prey which the spider then ingests through its mouth.

Pedipalps of Mostly Male Spiders

All spiders have “pedipalps” which resemble antennae or a 5th pair of legs, adjacent to the head. In mature males these are swollen and used for mating. The male spider will deposit a blob of sperm onto a web specially spun for the purpose and “suck” this into his pedipalps. On encountering a female the male will attempt to hook his pedipalps, one at a time, into the female’s epigyne, and transfer the sperm that way. The structure of the female pedipalp is much simpler than that of the male, and an example is included in the gallery.

Wasp Anatomy

A colony of Vespula germanica wasps took up residence in my roof space, and individuals would regularly find their way into my study. This provided a ready supply of material for the SEM. The images are of the wings, head, eyes, stings, and aedegus (male copulatory structure) - I think!

Tick Anatomy

A local vet provided me with a selection of ticks, recently removed from a hedgehog. Various parts of the anatomy, in particular the barbs that help the tick latch onto the prey, make interesting micrographs.


Even though not all spiders spin webs to catch their prey, all spiders do have spinnerets for the production of silk. These are located at the rear of the abdomen, adjacent to the anus. Apart from spinning webs to entrap prey there are a number of other uses for silk. These include: wrapping eggs, use as a parachute for “ballooning”, as an escape line, wrapping prey etc. etc.

Marine Diatoms

I was given a phial of cleaned fossil marine diatom material, by the late Klaus Kemp. The micrographs in this gallery are a selection made using that material. Any assistance in the identification of individual species would be much appreciated. Images are numbered to enable cross-reference. For details of how these diatoms were mounted for imaging refer to SEM Diaries 10 pages 4 and 5.

Inspect Galleries

This page provides links to 11 galleries of images taken using my FEI Inspect SEM, between February 2016 and July 2020. The subject matter reflects my interest in arachnology and entomology, but there are also galleries of pollen, diatoms and other small marine subjects. These subjects are excellent for imaging with the SEM, providing interesting images.

There is a separate gallery page for images made using my TESCAN MIRA SEM, from July 2020 onwards. The MIRA Galleries page includes links to galleries of similar subjects to those show below, as well other subject matter reflecting the development of my particular interests and the results of collaboration with other enthusiasts.

To access a particular gallery, click on the relevant thumbnail below. To see individual pictures at a larger scale, complete with a caption, click on that image. You can cycle through the other photos in the gallery by clicking on the forward and back arrows at the bottom of the individual image page.

To return from a single image to the individual gallery page, click on the cross at the top right of that page. To return to this page, click on the link near the top left of the individual gallery. Some of the micrographs include a data bar at the bottom that records the conditions under which the micrograph was taken, including a magnification. This magnification is accurate when the image is displayed on the screen of the original SEM, but not when viewed on another PC or on a laptop, tablet, phone etc. The scale bar is always correct. Other micrographs have been further processed to remove the data bar and distracting backgrounds. For these, the scale bar has been moved to the body of the image.

In addition to these galleries, and the later galleries created using the TESCAN MIRA, there is a separate sub-domain containing micrographs of key features of some British spiders. This can be accessed by following the link at the top of this page.