Wonderful insect photos

Linden Gledhill’s Flickr page contains 32 sets of photographs, half of them devoted to biology or physical phenomena in nature. You could spend hours looking at them, for they include insects, plants, insect eggs, insect parts, fungi, as well as paint splashes, astronomy shots, and travel photographs.  Linden has given me permission to put up a few of his insect pictures, but be aware that they’re “copyright Linden Gledhill” and can’t be further reproduced without his permission.

I believe it was the stalwart Matthew Cobb who called my attention to Gledhill’s close-up photos of butterfly wings. The entire album is here (it’s two pages), and on that album you can click on each of the images to enlarge it. This array of thumbnails from the first page (screenshot below) looks like a wonderful patchwork quilt:

Picture 1

Photographers will be interested in Linden’s extensive technical notes about how he made the photos.

Here are two closeups of the wings, with a butterfly wing first:

Picture 3

Sunset moth wing, looking like an array of ribbons in a gift shop:

Picture 1

There’s an album of insects in flight, too, and Linden called my attention to a flying Drosophila (I suspect it’s D. melanogaster):

Picture 4

Here’s a ladybird beetle, showing how the “elytra” (or wing covers, features that themselves evolved from ancestral wings) are retracted to allow the true wings to produce flight. One can consider the elytra to be a vestigial character, but one that has been coopted to serve a new function: protecting the wing and the beetle and advertising its distastefulness.

Picture 1


  1. Mike Kelly
    Posted January 22, 2013 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    given the shape of the covers, I would be surprised if they didn’t have a positive aerodynamic function, maybe providing some lift

    • Dominic
      Posted January 22, 2013 at 6:51 am | Permalink

      Know anyone with a wind tunnel?

  2. Posted January 22, 2013 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    Amazing pictures! I will look into them in detail and the how-to!

    I would like to share the 2 blogs of a person I had the great chance to meet in East Timor. He is just an amateur but a great spotter. Check his underwater blog and pictures from East Timor: http://www.uwet.blogspot.com/

    and now landed in landlocked Uganda he is keeping up with insects: http://uwet2.blogspot.com/


    • marycanada FCD
      Posted January 22, 2013 at 7:20 am | Permalink

      Just had a quick glance at the two links. Looks spectacular. Thanks for posting.

  3. Posted January 22, 2013 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Thanks a million, Drs. C! These will get me through the dreary days of winter.

  4. Posted January 22, 2013 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    In flight, and in FOCUS! Damn.

    • Diane G.
      Posted January 23, 2013 at 12:23 am | Permalink

      Imagine getting the Drosophila like that!

  5. David Edwards
    Posted January 22, 2013 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    I’m reminded here of an article that appeared in a past issue of the Daily Mail, a paper that usually I avoid, for reasons that will become obvious to anyone who visits the website. On this occasion, they featured photographs entitled “The Butterfly Alphabet”, in which wing patterns were displayed featuring every letter of the Roman alphabet, and the digits from 0 to 9. Indeed, there’s an entire Genus of butterflies (I think it’s the Genus Diaethria) that is known as the “Eighty Eights”, because of the underside wing pattern.

  6. David Edwards
    Posted January 22, 2013 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    For once, they featured the article on their website …


  7. Jim Bradley
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    These are just fantastic. Thanks!

  8. Posted January 24, 2013 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Sarvodaya and commented:
    As I’ve said before, nature is as beautiful as any work of art.

2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] Coyne posts zoomed-in photos that amaze him (in this case, of butterfly scales and sunset moth wings, […]

  2. […] Evolution is True shows off some remarkable insect photography by Linden Gledhil. Featured are an amazing set of photographs of butterfly scales. Wonder how he does that? ( Hint: […]

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