Monday, July 29, 2013

Scarab Beetle - Beautiful, even if you don't like insects.

I like insects and spiders.  My colleagues in biology do too, but the majority of people out there seem to have a universal response when I mention insects - "Yuk"!  I am almost certain that these "yuk" people have never looked at an insect closely because if they had they would find some of the most unusual and beautiful creatures on the plant.
Last week, Cyndi, who works in our division office here at the college, brought me an awesome scarab beetle from her yard.  This little guy will definitely make you take a closer look the next time you see an insect.
Below are some of the images I took of this beetle with my point-and-shoot camera and with the digital dissecting scope in the Microscopy Lab.  The dissecting scope images are first.

Something with such amazing colors lives in Dallas County? Absolutely!

Notice the club-shaped antenna with three sections.


As you can see, this little guy is alive and holding on to a twig.  It has very large tarsal claws for gripping.


Here you can see the tarsal claws and that all parts of this beetle are beautifully colored.

I wanted some more images of this beetle so I saved him a piece of lettuce from my deli sandwich and took him outside with my point-and-shoot camera.  This allowed much better depth of focus.

Notice the horn in the center of the head. 

A closer look at the eyes and horn.

A good look at those tarsal claws.


Last and one of the best. 

You may notice that there are no electron microscope images of this beetle.  The inside of an electron microscope is a very inhospitable place to be -- the high vacuum dries specimens out very quickly and there is high energy beam of electrons.  I could have killed the beetle and mounted him in the scope, but some things are too beautiful to destroy and, I hope you will agree, this insect is one of them.  I released him this morning, alive and well.

Bizarrely beautiful, but definitely not yukky.

As always, I welcome comments on this posting. 


  1. I think this beetle is beautiful and your photos capture that beauty perfectly. I say Yuk to all the YUKs!

  2. Beautiful. And a respect for all life, I see. Even more kewl.

  3. Do you know the story of Carl Jung and the Scarab?