Since I'm asking everyone else to pony up a selection of their best science & nature photos of the year, I figure it's only fair I participate. Here are 10 images I consider my personal favorites of the last 12 months.

Plectroctena & prey (Uganda)

This image made the cut because it is a cleanly-executed studio shot that illustrates natural behavior in spite of the artificial situation. The ant was collected dragging the paralyzed millipede back to her nest, yet she continued to pose for me with her catch. Plus, I like shiny things.

Synoeca social wasp emptying water from her nest (Brazil).

Speaking of shiny, macro photos of water droplets never get old.

Tenodera mantis (Illinois)

I arranged this image as a student exercise in creating impact via simplicity during a photography lesson. Zing! It had more impact than I anticipated.

A questing dog tick, Dermacentor variablis

A simple, well-lit shot that illustrates a tick's natural host-hunting behavior.

Tetramorium pulcherrimum (Uganda)

This image required nothing special in terms of technique. Some photographs shine just for the charisma of the subject. What's not to like about a fuzzy teddy bear ant?

Dorylus soldier ant (Uganda).

Photographing driver ants up-close without getting mauled is an accomplishment in itself.

Tetragonisca angustula stingless bees (Brazil).

I used to keep a hive of this honey-producing species when I lived in Paraguay many years ago, and I photographed Tetragonisca during a Brazilian trip partly for sentimentality. This particular photograph required a morning's effort.

Myrmecologist Flavia Esteves digs a trench to collect soil-dwelling ants in Uganda.

Photographs of scientists make great complements to images of their study subjects. I spent several days hunting ant scientists at work at California Academy of Science's Ant Course in Uganda this summer, and this shot of Brazilian myrmecologist Flavia Esteves is one of my favorites.

Fruiting bodies of Dictyostelium discoideum, a social amoeba.

I don't often veer to non-insect subjects, but when I do the change is fun. I blogged about this laboratory slime mold session in an earlier post.

Messor pergandei, reflected (California).

My usual milieu is ants-on-white. After consistent pressure from my myrmecological peers that taxonomically-informative hairs aren't visible enough against a light backdrop, I set myself up the challenge of creating a perfect black background. I've got a post on how I made this image coming in the next week; stay tuned!