White Scarab Beetle

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zed
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White Scarab Beetle

Post by zed »

Lately I've been doing a bunch of profile portraits of insect eyes and this little guy is one of the more impressive ones. The toughest part was the eye - which was dried out 6 ways from Sunday in the specimens I have. I used a small syringe in inject a few drops of warm DI water into the back of the head which cleared up the eyes for a few hours. Unfortunately the bright scales are easily stained when submerging these specimens in any fluid (like 20% Decon90).

10X Mitutoyo, Nikon D850, DCR-150 tube lens
350 images, 10 micron steps, PMAX in Zerene
Cyphochilus insulanus

Image
Last edited by zed on Wed Aug 28, 2019 6:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

houstontx
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Post by houstontx »

Looks good! If you want to go all the way down the rabbit hole on drying specimens, look at critical point drying...

rjlittlefield
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Post by rjlittlefield »

Very nicely photographed!

These beetles really have a very interesting structure. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about it:
The whiteness of the scales is caused by a thin disordered photonic structure (≈7 μm) which scatters light of all wavelengths with the same efficiency, thus resulting in a white colouration. This is particularly interesting as the beetle's exoskeleton underneath the scales is black, meaning that the scattering events must be very efficient in order to achieve such high opaqueness.

The white scales are composed of sclerotin, a modified form of the polymer chitin, and are whiter than paper or any artificial material produced so far. That is they have a scattering mean free path shorter than any natural material thanks to the anisotropy in the spatial architecture of the fibres, which ensures a high packing efficiency whilst preventing optical crowding.
--Rik

Lou Jost
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Post by Lou Jost »

Fascinating info, Rik, and a wonderful photo!

brentbristol
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Post by brentbristol »

Wow! This is quite beautiful! Nicely done!
The trouble with quick and dirty is that the dirty remains after the quick is gone.

zed
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Post by zed »

Thank you all for the comments!

@Rik - your additional information was great! Thanks for that - I think it really helps understand why these scales are so fragile!

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