This lacewing larva turned up in a bowl of freshly picked cherries. It was already mortally wounded with a crushed abdomen, but the front end was intact so I euthanized the beast with ethyl acetate fumes and photographed it on the cherry stem where it was already sitting.
The image above is almost the whole frame, at about 4X on APS-C.
Here's a closer crop of the same image. At this scale the thing on the end of its jaws looks like maybe some sort of prey, but on even closer examination it looks like some bits of plant fiber, clear with some green bits in or on them.
The above images are made with Zerene Stacker DMap with extensive retouching from individual frames and PMax output.
Of course I wanted to see the beast in stereo also, but it turned out that the lighting was too hard (too directional) to look good without the retouching, which is not practical in stereo.
So I shot another stack with much more diffuse lighting. That one rendered OK with just PMax, no retouching, so it was suitable for stereo:
And a closer crop...
At this point I got really curious about the mandibles. I had expected each one to be a single piece, but it seemed clear from the pictures that each one is actually two pieces, a top and a bottom. That impression was confirmed by page 17 of "The Insects: Structure and Function", by R.F.Chapman (4th Edition), where it is written that
Still curious, I wanted to get an even closer picture. So I repositioned the subject and mounted up a 10X objective. Here's the result of that.Larval Neutoptera and some pradaceous larval Coleoptera that digest their prey extra-orally have a food canal in each of the mandibles. These function in a similar way to those of biting and chewing insects, but they are sickle-shaped. In larval Neuroptera, a groove on the inside of each mandible is converted to a tube by the juxtaposition of a slender lacinia (Fig 2.5A).
This is most of a full frame. The very blurry "ghost" running vertical next to the right mandible is actually the foreground antenna, which I made no attempt to include in the stack.
In addition to what we can see of the mandible structure, I was interested to note the long tube running up through the middle of the antenna. I assume that's another tracheal tube, for providing oxygen to the tissues.
A camera-resolution version of the 10X stereo pair can be downloaded HERE. This is suitable for viewing in StereoPhoto Maker.
The 5X stacks are using Mitutoyo M Plan Apo 5X NA 0.14 objective on Raynox DCR-150 tube lens, with rear bellows length shortened to reduce the magnification. About 140 frames with 0.020 mm focus step.
The 10X stack is using Mitutoyo M Plan Apo 10X NA 0.28 objective on Raynox tube lens at rated magnification. 123 frames at 0.005 mm focus step.
Continuous illumination by Jansjo LED. The first stack was with a single lamp, diffused by the fingertip from a latex glove. The second and third stacks were with two lamps, diffused through a double layer of Kleenex tissue.
Canon T1i, ISO 100, 1/5 second for first stack, 1/1.3 second for second stack, 1/2 second for third stack, all with EFSC. Processed from RAW (CR2) format using Lightroom 5.6 with export to Zerene Stacker as quality 100 JPEG. The reason I exported as JPEG rather than TIFF was because I wanted to save the Lightroom export files as part of the project for retouching over several sessions. I had already optimized the exposure and other development parameters in Lightroom, so there wasn't much to be gained from TIFF and I wanted to avoid bloating the file sizes.
Stereo shift +-3% for the lower mag stack, +-4% for the 10X stack.