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Posts Tagged ‘Photography’

Calosoma scrutator, the fiery searcher
Savoy, Illinois

It’s a good thing Myrmecos isn’t a scratch-and-sniff blog. This beetle is a real stinker.

Calosoma scrutator, the fiery searcher, measures about 3cm long and is among our largest native ground beetles. The spectacular metallic coloration serves to warn predators- and, apparently, photographers- of the noxious chemicals it can release when threatened. I had to wash my hands after handling this insect.


photo details: Canon EOS 7D camera
Canon 100mm f2.8 macro lens
(top)ISO 200, f/11, 1/125 sec
(bottom) ISO100, f/13, 1/160 sec
indirect strobe in white box

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My ambient light bug portraits are nowhere near as good as those by the amazing Rick Lieder. But I’m working on it. Here’s a coenagrionid damselfly:


photo details: Canon EOS 7D camera
Canon 100mm f2.8 macro lens
ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/800 sec

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A queen in monochrome


A few days ago I posted a photo of a Prenolepis ant queen. It’s a decent photo, in focus and properly exposed. But probably not anything I’d print out and hang on the wall.

Check out the monochrome version above, though (click on it to enlarge). I don’t often put my images through such severe levels adjustments, but this one works rather well. I prefer it to the original.


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Penthe pimelia (Tetratomidae)
Illinois, USA

A couple years back I was working on the Beetle Tree of Life project as a molecular phylogeneticist. My main responsibility was to gather DNA sequence data for several hundred beetles distributed across the spectrum of Coleopteran diversity.

As I’m not a Coleopterist, I spent most of my time lost in a befuddled daze of incomprehensible taxonomy. There are so many beetles. The larger families each hold more species than all of the vertebrates combined. Think about all the mammals and birds you know- the warblers, the polar bears, the shrews, the hummingbirds- and they don’t even add up to a quarter of the weevils. That’s just the weevils, too. Never mind the ground beetles, the rove beetles, and the leaf beetles.

I did what I could to learn about these insects. I started the Friday Beetle Blog during this time, for example, and I’d try to look up information about the species I was sequencing. At least so I might know what they looked like.

Nonetheless, Polyphaga defeated me. I just couldn’t stay ahead of the endless flow of incoming samples, and the list of species in our sequence database just got longer and longer.  I’d recognize the names of most of the things just from typing them out all the time, but couldn’t keep else much in my head about them.

One of the hundreds of beetles I sequenced was the polypore fungus beetle Penthe pimelia. I always liked that name, it would pleasingly emerge within the Tenebrionoidea in our phylogenies. Other than that, I couldn’t tell you a thing about it, not with dozens of other tenebrionoids to worry about, and hundreds of other polyphagans and so on.

So I’m pleased to report that, all on my own, here in Illinois, I’ve found Penthe pimelia. This is what they look like- velvety black, not quite as long as a penny, and painfully shy. This one was hiding out in a rotting log, presumably feasting on fungus.

Photo details (top): Canon 100mm f2.8 macro lens on a Canon EOS 50D
ISO 400, f/13, 1/200 sec, indirect flash in white box
(bottom) Canon mp-e 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS 50D
ISO 100, f13, 1/250 sec, diffused flash

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Little Fire Ants

Wasmannia auropunctata – little fire ants
Buenos Aires, Argentina

One of the world’s worst invaders, the little fire ants have spread from the new world tropics to warmer regions around the globe, becoming especially problematic on oceanic islands. The ants above, though, are from an innocuous native population in northern Argentina. They arrived at a cookie bait at the Costanera Sur reserve, barely noticeable specks of orange just over a millimeter long.

Wasmannia has a painful sting for such a small insect, and the ants do this annoying thing where they’ll wander around on your body for an hour or two before deciding to stick it to you. So there you’ll be, relaxing at the bar long after getting in from the field, and ZAM!  Right between the shoulder blades.

Photo details: Canon mp-e 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS 20D
ISO 100, f13, 1/250 sec, diffused flash

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Prenolepis imparis – winter ant (queen)
Urbana, Illinois

Photo details: Canon mp-e 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS 50D
ISO 100, f13, 1/250 sec, diffused flash

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Cucujus clavipesDendroides fire-colored beetle
Illlinois

We in the Friday Beetle Department don’t often turn our attention to immature beetles. But these Cucujus clavipes Dendroides larvae are too striking to pass up.

Cucujus Dendroides fire-colored beetles inhabit the flat, two-dimensional space under the bark of dead trees. The oddly compressed body helps this insect squeeze through tight spaces looking for food.

update: Identification updated, on closer examination of the urogomphi.  I think everyone should spend more time examining urogomphi.

Photo details: Canon mp-e 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS 50D
ISO 100, f13, 1/250 sec, diffused flash

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