My Digital Photography of
Beetles and Other Insects
The following insects were photographed in the Metro-Detroit area, unless otherwise noted. I have identified them by their scientific names, if known. If you know the name of any unidentified insects, please e-mail me at email@example.com. Photographs are sorted so that most recent photos are at the top of the page.
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July 24, 2015. In backyard. This beetle was very fast and difficult to photograph.
May 25, 2015, Highland State Park.
Horned (or Forked) Fungus Beetle, Bolitotherus Cornutus
May 14, 2015, at home.
This crazy thing somehow must have been in the soil I was moving around in a bucket outside, and when I brought the bucket inside and set it by the doorwall, it must have been in there, because several hours later, I found it on its back on the floor by the bucket. I was working in an area with a lot of dead wood and occasional fungal growth, so it made sense. This one is a female and doesn't sport the super-cool horns that the male has, but it was still an interesting find. The strangest thing about these beetles is that they secrete a foul-smelling substance in response to mammalian breath. I can't say I noticed much of a smell, but when I breathed on her while she was on her back, she did open up the flap at the base of her abdomen that you see in the first three photos. She is also photographed on one of my woodburned cypress knees and a Cephalocereus senilis (Old Man Cactus). I let her go in an area with lots of dead wood.
American Oil Beetle, Meloe americanus
October 19, 2014. Dahlem Conservancy. These were extremely abundant on the prairie trails. Many were mating.
June 22, 2014. Waterloo State Park.
Forest Caterpillar Hunter, Calosoma scrutator
June 1, 2014. Saugatuck Dunes State Park.
May 21, 2014. Illinois.
August 31, 2013. Sharon Twp., MI.
Unknown cocoon remnants
These remnants were found on a vinyl blow-up frog that was stored in my parents' basement for some time. I am not sure what type of insect they came from. The third picture is a different cocoon than the first two.
Japanese Beetle, Popillia japonica
I photographed this quick shot of a japanese beetle where it naturally was eating on August 4, 2008. Click here for a better photo shoot of a Japanese beetle.
Carpet Beetles (A.K.A. Skin beetle, larder beetle, hide or leather beetle, or khapra beetle), Family Dermestidae (Order Coleoptera)
I can't even begin to tell you how much I hate these things. I have had to throw out a lot of my artwork and collections of natural items due to these insects. They seem to get into everything---a cute little taxidermied duckling I used to display in my vine sculpture, my pysanky (to get at a very small portion of egg left inside the shell), my cicadas that were displayed on my family tree sculpture (not to mention every other insect in my collection that was not sealed tight in some kind of enclosure). They are one of the reasons I have had to give up including insects in my artwork anymore. They destroy everything and I find their little shed skin shells left behind as evidence. Here is one of the larvae and an adult beetle. Notice how the beetle seems to have unusual protrusions all along its wing covers. It doesn't have a smooth shell like many beetles. Click here to find out the fate of this beetle. According to Wikipedia, they do seem to have one good use---they can clean skeletons for natural history museums.
Firefly, Photinus pyralis
I photographed this firefly on June 15, 2008. It was very fast-moving and kept trying to fly away, so I didn't get many pictures. I made two animations from a few of the photos.
Ladybug, Coccinella septempunctata
I would have thought I'd photographed a ladybug by now, but this is the first one. These photos were taken on a coriopsis flower and bishop's weed flower on June 14, 2008.
On June 14, 2008, this junebug was outside on the wall by the light, so I figured I'd photograph it on a peony flower. Click here to see the previous junebug I photographed.
Cucumber Beetle, Acalymma vittatum
On June 3, 2008, I brought in a few peony flowers with the intent of photographing a half-dead mayfly on them. However, as soon as I brought them in, this cucumber beetle emerged from the petals, so of course it had to be photographed too. The beetle even got to meet the mayfly. Click here to see the mayfly set of photos.
I even made an animation of the three photos of him flailing around on a petal---it looks like he's either having a seizure or rock-and-rolling. In any case, it makes me laugh.
Brian found this huge 1 1/2" long stag beetle outside walking on the driveway and called me to get it, knowing I'd surely want to photograph it. It was nighttime, so I waited until next day on July 16, 2007. Last year, I found two black stag beetles around this time of year. Today's beetle was a reddish-brown color though. First, I did the pincer test to see if it was aggressive. Lucky for me, it was not---no matter how much it was provoked, the pincers were nothing but looks---it wouldn't clamp them down on anything! Although it was quite a feisty beetle---I had to refrigerate it for a few 5-minute sessions so that it would be calm enough to photograph. Otherwise, it was wildly flailing about (these beetles aren't too agile on land). I read a little about stag beetles this time and discovered that the adults either eat rotting wood or nothing at all. One thing I really like are the fuzzy hairs that cover the division between segments. I assume they must be to help keep parasites from getting in there.
Masked Hunter, Reduvius personatus
This is the second one of these I've found in my life, but this time, I had a better camera to take it's photograph. This insect is only about 1/8" long from head to abdomen and is therefore quite difficult to work with. I photographed this one on July 16, 2007 on a coriopsis flower. Click here to see the first masked hunter I found.
Grapevine Beetle, Pelidnota punctata
This is the third grapevine beetle I've photographed. I used to think they were rather rare beetles, but I've been finding them more often lately. There are some grapevines in my backyard that get pretty out-of-control sometimes, so maybe that's why they're here. This one was photographed on July 3, 2007 on a coriopsis flower. Click here to see my first grapevine beetle photos. Click here to see the second beetle's photos.
Japanese Beetle, Popillia japonica
I found this Japanese Beetle at my parents' house on July 1, 2007. I believe they can be quite damaging to some plants, but I forgot which ones. Even so, I've always enjoyed their iridescent appearance, although it was difficult to capture with my camera and the beetle took off into the air after only a few shots. These aren't my best work, but so far they're my only photos of a Japanese Beetle.
Very Unusual Nymph
I don't know what kind of nymph this is, but it is one crazy-looking nymph! I found it on June 25, 2007 while gardening. You can see some wing buds on it, so it will obviously fly someday. One of the strangest things I noticed is that it has spikes coming out of its eyes! What would it be like to see with those spikes right in the middle of your eye? I would have liked to see what it turned into, but I didn't know what to give it for sustenance so I let it go where I found it in the backyard on a flowering thistle. It is photographed on a coriopsis flower below.
Unknown Species of Weevil #2
Holly, MI. August 22, 2015.
Unknown Species of Weevil #1
One can always distinguish a weevil from other bugs by its unusual proboscis. It looks somewhat like an anteater. It's body (not including the proboscis) was only about 1/4" long, so it was quite tiny. I photographed this one on June 15, 2007. In case you were wondering, there are wings beneath the hard shelled exterior. It tried to fly away a couple times, but bumped into the surroundings and had to stick around for some more photographs. Also notice that in the first photo with the yellow coriopsis flower, it is on its back---that's because it was playing dead for about a minute!
Grapevine Beetle, Pelidnota punctata
On June 15, 2007, I found a grapevine beetle on my wall outside. I decided to take some pictures. This one took off on me unexpectedly and flew so high I couldn't get it back. Click here to see the other grapevine I photographed previously.
While camping in Nelson, OH, on July 29, 2006, I found this tiny little bug. It is only about 1/4 inch long. I tried to get some shots with my close-up lens, but it wasn't sunny enough, so I gave up. Here are two photos that are somewhat out of focus, but I thought it was such a neat insect I had to post the pictures anyway.
Brian found this interesting beetle on the car while we were camping in Nelson, OH at about 1:00 in the morning on July 29, 2006. The body alone was close to an inch and a half in length! This was one big beetle.
I found this large black stag beetle outside in my driveway on the night of May 29, 2006. It was about 1 1/2" long. I saved it overnight and photographed it on the 30th. This beetle was very aggressive. Anything placed inside its pincers was pinched. I also took a couple movies of this beetle. Click the links below to see them.
Beetle Walking Beetle on its Back
When I released the beetle pictured above, I returned to the door only to find another of this same species right there on the ground! I haven't seen a beetle like this in years and this time, I found two in two days! So of course, I photographed this one too. This beetle acted differently than the one above. It refused to bite at all! It would stand up tall and open its pincers wide, but I couldn't get it to bite anything. I'm wondering if it might be a female and the aggressive one might be a male. When I released the second beetle a day later, the first beetle was almost right where I left it. The second beetle started walking right towards it. The next day, both beetles were gone.
On the evening of May 20th, 2006, a junebug was on my screen door. I saved it until the next day to photograph.
Pillbug, Armadillidium vulgare
On April 2, 2006, I photographed a couple pillbugs found underneath some dead cannas plants. Technically, they are more closely related to shrimp and lobsters than insects since they belong to the phylum Arthropoda. Notice that they have 7 pairs of legs. These two were found curled in a ball since it was only about 50 degrees Fahrenheit outside. They warmed up quickly in my hand though and were moving almost too quickly to get any good photographs.
Shield Bug, Family Pentatomidae
During the wintertime, shield bugs seek warm shelters indoors. That was certainly the case with this one I found in my bedroom on January 5, 2006. They don't bite, so they are harmless to humans. They suck juices out of plants, so they won't hurt your clothes either. They are also called stink bugs because they smell bad when you squish them (I wouldn't know what it smells like exactly because I would never do that to a bug).
Red Spider Mite
This red spider mite scurried around on the lichen I was photographing with my close-up lens in September 2005. I couldn't believe I actually got a fairly clear picture of one of these creatures. They are smaller than a sharp pencil point and look like a moving red dot to the human eye.
Grapevine Beetle, Pelidnota punctata
On the night of my 30th birthday, this interesting beetle was hanging out on my screen door. I haven't seen one of these in about 8 or 9 years, when I also found one on my screen door. I discovered they are called grapevine beetles and are from the family Scarabeidae (the same as scarab beetles). I do have some wild grapevine that has been a nuisance since I moved in. I am always cutting down its vines. These are very strong beetles. It took me about 5 minutes to pry it off the screen (I didn't want to break its legs). When I had it holding on to my finger, every time I made a sudden movement, I could feel all of its legs gripping even tighter. I wanted to take better photos of it in the sunlight the next day, but it was too strong for the container I had it in and escaped overnight. So here are the photos I took that night with the flash.
Masked Hunter, Reduvius personatus
I found this unusual specimen on my kitchen counter on July 9, 2005. I've never seen anything like it. I had to use my close-up lens to photograph it because it is less than 1/8 inch long. Even then, it was difficult to get the whole insect in focus. I also took a movie of it walking across a piece of paper. Click here to see a movie of this insect. Thanks to whatsthatbug.com, I was able to identify this as something called a Masked Hunter, a type of assassin bug that hunts even smaller insects. Apparently, this one is a juvenile. Click here to see an adult.
My parents brought back some Spanish Moss from a trip to Florida in February 2005. Soon after I opened the bag, two crazy caterpillars were inching about. These things look like they attached small bits of plant matter to their bodies, leaving only their head and front appendages exposed. Very strange creatures. They are only about 3/16 to 1/4 inch long, so I had to use my close-up lens. I also took a short movie of one inching along. Click here to see a movie of this caterpillar in action.
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