Fifteenth Place in the Nikon Small World 2016 PHOTOMICROGRAPHY COMPETITION went to Geir Drange for this image of the head of the lady beetle, Halyzia sedecimguttata. This stacked image shows in great detail a large number of hairs on the head, antennae and palps. The black compound eyes are stand out against the yellow background of the head. The translucent pronotum extends over the head gives the impression of a small insect hiding its head in a non-threatening pose.
Lady beetles are predators of aphids and small insects. Their mouthparts face forward in an adaptation to bite their prey. Much of the head is protected by the hard cuticle of the pronotum. This provides protection from other insects such as ants that will attack lady beetles while guarding aphids.
The palps of lady beetles are often enlarged and protrude in front of the mouthparts. This allows the beetles to tasted their prey before consuming it. The antennae (middle of the photo) are thinner and extend to the side of the body. Antennae can have receptors that detect odors from aphids and the host plants of aphids. Palps are primarily contact chemoreceptors. In photos and drawings, the palps are more prominent. In numerous photos the palps are mislabeled as antennae.