13 creepy photos of the microscopic world around us that will make your skin crawl

06 white hair spider javier ruperez microscope photo nikon small world 2019 nsw2019A focus-stacked image of a small spider.Javier Rupérez/Nikon Small World

Most days, we don't think about the tiny world bustling right under our noses.

Small organisms live out their lives, catching prey, laying eggs, and doing their best to survive. Usually, we can't see any of this.

But skilled photographers can use microscopes to reveal the hidden - and sometimes disturbing - world beyond what the eye can see. To celebrate that microscopic mastery, the Nikon Small World contest has awarded the best photographs taken through a microscope each year for decades.

Read more: The best microscope photos of the year reveal a strange and hidden universe in astonishing detail

For the 45th year of the contest, four judges reviewed more than 2,000 pictures submitted from nearly 100 countries. A little more than 100 photos stood out from the pack. Some of them capture the beauty of tiny flowers or reveal the complex, dazzling patterns behind something as simple as a water droplet.

Others reveal up close the creepies and crawlies that lurk below the surfaces of lakes and in the corners of your home.

Here are the 13 creepiest microscopic photos of 2019.

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Spiders strike many people as creepy when seen with the naked eye. Under a microscope, the effect is far more dramatic.

Spiders strike many people as creepy when seen with the naked eye. Under a microscope, the effect is far more dramatic.

This photo a female lynx spider took 14th place in the Nikon contest.

Even fewer people are cool with lice — especially when they cling to strands of hair, as this one is.

Even fewer people are cool with lice — especially when they cling to strands of hair, as this one is.

Head lice feed on blood from the human scalp. (Feeling itchy yet?)

Head lice feed on blood from the human scalp. (Feeling itchy yet?)

Another common pest — the biting house fly — looks downright alien under a microscope.

Another common pest — the biting house fly — looks downright alien under a microscope.

One day, these orb-shaped egg chambers will sprout fully formed fruit flies ready to haunt your kitchen and your dreams.

One day, these orb-shaped egg chambers will sprout fully formed fruit flies ready to haunt your kitchen and your dreams.

This is what the silverfish that you might find in your bathroom look like up close. If one of those antennae falls off, the insect can grow it back.

This is what the silverfish that you might find in your bathroom look like up close. If one of those antennae falls off, the insect can grow it back.

Underwater creatures can be even creepier under the microscope. This sea-dwelling eunicid worm has five antennae.

Underwater creatures can be even creepier under the microscope. This sea-dwelling eunicid worm has five antennae.

This fluorescent skeleton of a fangtooth fish is the stuff of nightmares.

This fluorescent skeleton of a fangtooth fish is the stuff of nightmares.

The skull of a longnose gar fish looks straight out of Beetlejuice.

The skull of a longnose gar fish looks straight out of Beetlejuice.

Even the name of the phantom midge makes it seem spooky. This creature (the photo below shows its larva), is also known as a glassworm and lives in lakes all over the world. Its claw-like appendage unfurls to catch tiny prey.

Even the name of the phantom midge makes it seem spooky. This creature (the photo below shows its larva), is also known as a glassworm and lives in lakes all over the world. Its claw-like appendage unfurls to catch tiny prey.

Baby dung beetles aren't so cute, either. One day, the compact wrinkles in this embryo will become spiky black legs and a pair of long horns.

Baby dung beetles aren't so cute, either. One day, the compact wrinkles in this embryo will become spiky black legs and a pair of long horns.

Spider legs, meanwhile, look quite hairy up close. White hairs on this tiny spider surround multiple pairs of black eyes.

Spider legs, meanwhile, look quite hairy up close. White hairs on this tiny spider surround multiple pairs of black eyes.

This photo took sixth place in Nikon's contest.

But bugs and other tiny creatures aren't the only beings that look creepy up close. These tangled fibers are human neurons; you have billions of them inside your brain.

But bugs and other tiny creatures aren't the only beings that look creepy up close. These tangled fibers are human neurons; you have billions of them inside your brain.
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