“…mysterious and little known organisms live within walking distance of where you sit. Splendor awaits in minute proportions.”
E.O. Wilson (Biophilia)
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- Note on photography: unless otherwise mentioned, all subjects are photographed live where they are found. White-background images are taken without added cooling or freezing.
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© Adrian Thysse and Splendour Awaits, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Adrian Thysse and 'Splendour Awaits', with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
DISCLAIMERI am a photographer, not an entomologist. I do my best to have professionals assist in identifying the subjects of my photographs. However, positive identifications can not always be done unless the specimen is dead and viewed under a microscope. If you do find an error, or have doubts about the identification provided, please let me know in the comments or by email.
Tag Archives: Coleoptera
I thought this webinar was locked-up by the ESA, but the video is now on Youtube, so everyone can see Ted’s excellent
Adven webcast on photographing Tiger beetles and other insects. This is the first time that I can recall any bug photographer giving such detailed information on how to stalk bugs, and of course, it is laced with many of his fine images.
Longhorns Beetles (Coleoptera, Family Cerambycidae) can be a bit of a challenge to photograph well, because the antennae are so long that they are hard to include in the photo without all or part of the length being out of focus. As macro photographers we must choose carefully what part of the subject will be in focus, because the depth of field is always shallow. As a rule, the eye is the most important feature to keep in focus. Some photographers choose to close in on the beetle and leave the ‘horns’ severely clipped at the image borders, however, by carefully aligning both the beetle and the closer antenna on the same plane, it is possible to get an acceptable appearance of focus throughout. The other alternative is a direct dorsal photograph of a chilled or pinned specimen, with antenna flat, but this does not give the lively look that is most pleasing.
However, there is another approach. Treat your longhorn like a portrait photographer would, and ask it to – ”…tilt your head just a little bit this way”, and …”now a little bit to the right” and”… lift your chin a bit…that’s it! Hold it!”
Live beetle donated by a kindly visitor to my booth at the Rooted in Nature Art Show at Devonian Botanic Gardens!
Just back from a family holiday to BC! Here’s a shot from before the break, the same beetles that I photographed earlier.
Long-lipped tiger beetles on white. Not chilled, not frozen, not stunned…just amazingly compliant and clumsy when occupied this way.
Soon after this image was taken, the female did manage to throw off the male, and after moments of stunned immobility, they both flew off.
With their slow movements, distended abdomens and their propensity for grass, oil beetles will forgive me for thinking that they are the insect equivalent of cows. Indeed for the short period that this specimen was kept in a pill bottle, it managed to eject a green liquid mass of partially digested plant bits (out of which end I did not observe) that would best be described as cud. But there is a more fascinating side to these grass-grazing beetles that belies their placid and lumbering bovinity — they secrete poison from the leg joints, the males have grappling hooks on the antennae, and the children are ruthless killers.
Oil beetles are so named because, when physically disturbed, they exude oily droplets of hemolymph from their joints. This secretion contains cantharidin, a poisonous chemical that can cause a painful blistering (hence sometimes called ‘blister beetles’) on the skin. Certainly a handy defence when you are a fat, flightless beetle.
The lifecycle is an example of hypermetamorphosis, a variety of complete metamorphosis (holometabolism) with several distinct larval stages. After hatching, the larvae, called triungulins, actively climb plants to seek out a flower, where they will transfer to visiting bees. In Meloe franciscanus, the bees will cluster on a stem and secrete pheromones that attract male ground bees. When the male tries to mate with the cluster, the triungulins scramble aboard. The male then moves on to mate with other real female bees, and the triungulins can then transfer to those females. Now fertilized and loaded with larvae, she will carry the triungulins back to the nest, where the little blighters†, going through four instars, will proceed to consume the complete contents of the cell that she constructs and provisions, including the larvae. See the segment from Life in the Undergrowth below for the details of how some blister beetle triungulins do their work. (This is probably Meloe franciscanus: see http://www.pnas.org/content/103/38/14039.full)
And the grappling-hook antennae? Male oil beetles use the hooks on the antennae to latch onto the females antennae during courtship. See an image of the antennae in use at BugGuide.
And don’t you think this would be a good choice for Alberta’s Provincial Beetle?
For more on oil beetles see page 19 of: Alkali Bees. Their Biology and Management for Alfalfa Seed Production in the Pacific Northwest.
Thanks to BugGuide for the ID
(Photographed 25 May, 2012. Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan)
†Not an entomological term, although it should be…