Nature bejeweled

Here’s a gorgeous unmanipulated photo taken by Jens Kolk: a ladybug covered with morning dew (click to enlarge):

Biology lesson: though many of us call these “ladybugs,” they aren’t true bugs, which are members of the order Hemiptera. “Ladybugs” are beetles, in the order Coleoptera (family Coccinellidae), and probably better called “ladybird beetles.”


  1. Matthew Cobb
    Posted July 9, 2012 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    YOU might call it a ladybug Jerry, WE call it a ladybird. Which is, of course, much more accurate!

    • bernardhurley
      Posted July 9, 2012 at 7:58 am | Permalink

      Except that it’s not a bird.

      • Gregory Kusnick
        Posted July 9, 2012 at 9:08 am | Permalink

        Or LBJ’s wife.

        • Posted July 9, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

          So if you call them ladybugs, what was Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor Johnson (December 22, 1912 – July 11, 2007) named after?

          Reading on in that fount of all knowledge, W********, I find the name was bestowed by her [nurse says W******, copying TIME? – the link is broken] [cook, Washington post], ‘Alice Tittle, who commented that she was as “purty as a ladybird” which is a brightly colored beetle.’

          Would it be prejudicial to guesss that Ms Tittle was Black? But presumably if the name stuck it was also used by white folks?

      • Reginald Selkirk
        Posted July 9, 2012 at 10:44 am | Permalink

        And about 50% of the time, it’s not a lady.

      • Posted July 9, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

        Except that it is in the sense of the word that was current when the name “ladybird” was established; that is, any flying thing, not just a member of class Aves. Mediæval bestiaries say, for ex., “Bees are the smallest of birds…” Similarly, whales are fish and mice are (such small) deer (Shakespeare!).


        • Gregory Kusnick
          Posted July 9, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

          And ladybugs are bugs!

          • Mark Joseph
            Posted July 12, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

            And bats are birds! (Leviticus 11:19)

    • Frank
      Posted July 9, 2012 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      And I suppose you know that the common name is of religious origin, from the UK? The most common ladybird in Europe is (or was) the seven-spotted, whose spots were meant to signify the seven sorrows of Our Lady, the Virgin Mary – who was often depicted with a red cloak. So, the seven-spot became Our Lady’s beetle, or bird.

      • Sawdust Sam
        Posted July 9, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

        Even more obvious German: Marienkäfer – Mary’s beetle. Strangely, käfer is also slightly disrespectful slang for a girl.

        • bernardhurley
          Posted July 9, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

          So is “bird” in UK English.

  2. Lynn A.
    Posted July 9, 2012 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Truely awe inspiring.

    • Lynn A.
      Posted July 9, 2012 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      oops,should be “truly”

  3. bonetired
    Posted July 9, 2012 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    From a human point-of-view absolutely lovely. However, I am not so sure its quite so good from the ladybird’s: what with extra weight, a chilling effect as the dew evaporates ….

    • TheBrummell
      Posted July 9, 2012 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      Not to mention the reduced rate of oxygen diffusion (inward) and carbon dioxide diffusion (outward) from the insect’s trachea. Both gases move through water much more slowly (about 1000 times more slowly) than through air.

      Still a beautiful photograph, of course.

      • Posted July 9, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

        Aren’t the trachea kept free of dew under the ladybird’s wing-cases?


        • TheBrummell
          Posted July 10, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

          I expect the trachea are not filled with water, even those directly under a dew-drop. The lining is pretty hydrophobic, I think. But any trachea with a water droplet over its opening (partially or fully) will have reduced gas exchange with the outside atmosphere because the gases have to get through that water.

  4. pktom64
    Posted July 9, 2012 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    I love this kind of photos! Reminded me of those, by Ondrej Pakan:

    Feels unreal…

    • Occam
      Posted July 9, 2012 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      “Feels unreal…”

      Maybe because it could be unreal, in a sense.

      According to technical websites I browsed, Ondrej Pakan is reported as using a rather special macro lens: the Canon MP-E 65mm Macro. It incorporates a macro extension tube allowing for up to 5x magnification at a minimum working distance of 41mm.
      At such a magnification, even at f/16, the tabled depth-of-field is a staggeringly thin 0.27mm! My own DOF calculator indicates a latitude of barely 0.1mm in front and back of the focus plane.

      Yet Ondrej’s images appear perfectly in focus. One method discussed is that of focus stacking. Unless a burst sequence of shots requiring extremely rapid (manual) adjustment of focus brackets is involved, the chilling effect of evaporating dew conjectured by bonetired above may have the very welcome effect (from the photographer’s perspective) of slowing down the subjects and keeping them in place.

      • pktom64
        Posted July 9, 2012 at 9:35 am | Permalink

        Thank you for all those precisions, even though I don’t really follow everything. 🙂

        Still beautiful pictures!

        • Occam
          Posted July 9, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

          “Thank you for all those precisions, even though I don’t really follow everything.”

          There’s a technical term even for this: the acronym MEGO.
          (“Mine Eyes Glazeth Over”)

  5. Occam
    Posted July 9, 2012 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    For the technically inclined:
    I suspected the use of a starburst filter, which would have strained the definition of “unmanipulated image” a bit.

    But Jens Kolk makes it very explicit on his site that the stars are due to diffraction caused by using a very small aperture, not an artificial effects filter. He even thinks the stars “a little kitschy”, so his taste cannot be faulted. A companion picture on his site features a few diffractive starbursts only, in direct contre-jour.

    • gravelinspector
      Posted July 9, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      It’s relatively common to see such effects on astrophotographs. The test would be, does this specialised lens (detailed up-thread somewhere) have a 6-leaf or an 8-leaf iris? The star effects in question are 8-pointed, I think.

      • klementz1
        Posted July 9, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

        The lens diaphragm has six blades.

  6. klementz1
    Posted July 9, 2012 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Gorgeous photograph! The Ladybug kind of looks like part of a raspberry. I think the star bursts add to the image (which I thought was the sun being reflected).

    I have enough trouble with a 100 mm macro with full extension tubes, but I understand that the MP-E 65 lens can be very difficult to master.

  7. Pete Moulton
    Posted July 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Spectacular image!

  8. emmageraln
    Posted July 9, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on emmageraln.

  9. Nathan
    Posted July 9, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    I really wish that Americans would call the lady bug a ladybird. As many of you pointed out; it is not a bug, so why not call it a bird?

    The creature deserves a certain respect for being so brightly colored, yet managing to form the evolutionary qualities necessary to survive flocks of swooping birds, whilst being inclined to inhabit the tops of tall stems.

    I may have to start a blog titled, if

  10. Achrachno
    Posted July 9, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    But what are the rest of the bejeweled things? That is, what’s it standing on?

    I know part of the answer: Asteraceae (sunflower fam.), apprarently something in the chicory tribe. Sonchus??

  11. Posted July 10, 2012 at 1:07 am | Permalink

    Bah! Coleoptera are bugs. What they are not is hemiptera.

    Everybody is entitled to an opinion. Yours is muddled and sucks.

  12. Torquil Macnneil
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    Kharamatha, they are insects, bot bugs. Bugs are a subset of insects (hemiptera)sometimes called ‘true bugs’, although a lot of people use the word over generally. It is as if you were insisting that spiders were insects just because you have always called them that.

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      He understands that. His point (which I agree with) is that in folk usage “bug” is a much larger category encompassing insects, spiders, even crustaceans. (In Lousiana, crayfish are often called mudbugs; in Australia, lobsters are bugs.)

      Entomologists are free to confine their use of “bug” to the Hemiptera if they so choose. But they don’t get to tell the rest of us we’re Doin It Rong when we use the word consistently with its long-established folk meaning.

    • RF
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      The claim is not that the word “bug” includes all insects because Kharamatha personally uses the word that way, but that it has such a meaning because there is a widespread consensus among English speakers that it means that. Words mean what they’re used to mean. On what basis is it asserted that “bug” refers only to hemiptera?

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