Sunday slide 26

wheel bug Arilus cristatus hatching from egg cluster
And so we reach the halfway point in the year, at least as far as Sunday slide posts go. This week’s offering comes from April 2006, as a collection of wheel bugs (Arilus cristatus) hatches from an egg cluster affixed to the branch of a tree. I credit this capture to James L. Kramer, who has made a few appearances on this blog – he didn’t take this image (he got plenty of his own,) but had the egg cluster in his yard and was monitoring it closely, notifying me when the hatching had started to take place, and luckily I was available at the time. To give a idea of scale, the entire egg cluster spanned about the width of a dime, so these guys are pretty small. The extraction from the egg case, unlike (for instance) the emergence of adult parasitic wasps from their cocoon, takes place over several minutes with little visual activity – occasionally a leg breaks free, and at the very end the action is breathtaking as the insect draws completely free from the case (I’m being sarcastic, since it still appears to be in slow motion,) but a candidate for video this ain’t; even time lapse photography would show long periods with minimal movement.

With all the macro work I do now, I look at this and shrug, not terribly impressed. The Sigma 105 macro was a fine performer, but at this magnification it was pushing the limits, and I can achieve a whole lot better now with some pretty esoteric equipment. Ah, the difference eleven years will make…

For comparison, some pics of a juvenile wheel bug can be seen here, and an adult here – at hatching, they are perhaps 5mm in body length, while the adult at that link was 35mm, so there’s quite a bit of difference in just a few months, much like the mantids. Which reminds me that we need an update on them soon, lest I tarnish my reputation.

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