And now, a bark-gnawing beetle…

…for no reason other than that I need something sparkly this morning.


Temnoscheila sp. bark-gnawing beetle, Trogossitidae

Tucson, Arizona

The reflective integument makes this beetle a real trick to shoot. It’s like trying to photograph a mirror- a regular flash either reflects back at full, blown-out glare or not at all. So I shot this beetle in a white box, where the soft, even lighting can bathe the insect without sharp hightlights or deep shadows.

photo details:

Canon EOS 20D camera
Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens
ISO 100, f/14, 1/250sec


  1. #1 ctenotrish
    April 14, 2010

    Gorgeous! And welcome to SciBlogs!

  2. #2 Ted C. MacRae
    April 14, 2010

    Based on the size of these beetles, I presume you shot this all the way down at 1:1. What would your preference be between the 1-5x and 100mm macro lenses, given the higher working distance and aperature capabilities of the latter for subjects not needing more than life size?

  3. #3 Alex Wild
    April 14, 2010

    You presume correctly, Ted. 1:1 is the only area where the two lenses overlap, and although I used the MP-E in this case I generally prefer the 100mm. It can make do with less light and is sharp as a tack. The argument in favor of the MP-E is logitistical- just the greater flexibility in being able to go in and shoot close-ups without having to swap lenses.

  4. #4 jason
    April 14, 2010

    Between you and Ted, I’m finding the idea of a real macro lens to be enticing. I’ve never done true macro photography, but by golly that’s one gorgeous shot. I suppose it helps that the beetle is awfully purty!

  5. #5 PalMD
    April 14, 2010

    Great to have you here! Have a sawyer!

  6. #6 Ted C. MacRae
    April 14, 2010

    Ah, that makes sense.

    btw – not a conclusive ID, but I suggest Temnoscheila aerea distinguished from the other brilliant green western species (T. chlorodia) by the absence of a frontal line and finer punctation on the head.

  7. #7 Alex Wild
    April 14, 2010

    PalMD- Thanks for the welcome, and the beetle!

    Ted- it’d be really helpful to nail down a species ID on that beetle. If I sent you a better photo of the head do you think you could confirm the species?

  8. #8 Ted C. MacRae
    April 14, 2010

    Alex-send a dorsal shot of the head and pronotum with a clear view of punctation and any surface sculpturing – that should do it.

  9. #9 Monado
    April 15, 2010

    I have similar problems photographing shiny books, so I turn off the flash and take them outside on cloudy days.

  10. #10 Henry W. Robison
    April 15, 2010

    WOW! What a fantastic shot of a gorgeous beetle! This one is a killer shot and sure to win a few prizes! Great work Alex!

  11. #11 Ted C. MacRae
    April 16, 2010

    I’m changing my ID to Temnoscheila chlorodia – the closeup photograph of the head clearly shows a distinctly impressed frontal line.

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