Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Hooks to hold onto spines

with 20 comments

Click for greater clarity, especially in the small hairs.

Seven months ago today, on March 13, we joined a group of native plant people at Kathy Comer’s property out in the country north of Austin. One thing that Eve found for me to photograph was this hairy insect, which I take to be a beetle because it has the same kind of recurved hooks at the ends of its legs that I’ve observed on other insects that are undoubtedly beetles. This one was hanging from the spine of a prickly pear cactus, and although at first I thought the insect was dead, I changed my mind because dead things don’t move around of their own accord, as this little creature soon started doing.


UPDATE: Thanks to entomologist Mike Quinn for confirming that this is a beetle. He said that it’s a scarab of the June bug variety. He also provided a link to the Travis County Beetle Survey, where you can scroll down to the pictures of June bugs.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 13, 2012 at 6:08 AM

20 Responses

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  1. A stunning photo. Congrats!


    October 13, 2012 at 6:25 AM

  2. That is one of the most amazing, detailed macro shots I have ever seen. Wow!!!!


    October 13, 2012 at 6:35 AM

  3. Wonderful detail of that little bug/insect/ beetle.


    October 13, 2012 at 7:38 AM

  4. Amazing detail and clarity


    October 13, 2012 at 7:43 AM

  5. I just spent an unreasonable amount of time trying to identify this little guy. I failed, of course, although I do have a better idea of the number of insects running loose on this planet – a lot.

    I just can’t get over the complexity of this little guy – or all those little hairs. I’ve always thought of beetles as perfectly smooth, but that certainly isn’t the case. Amazing.


    October 13, 2012 at 8:32 AM

    • I’m hoping someone will be able to identify the genus, or at least confirm that this really is a beetle. There are indeed an awful lot of insect species out there, many more than of any other order of animals.

      As for all those little hairs, I’ve wondered what purpose they serve.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 13, 2012 at 8:47 AM

  6. Apparently, your question is an age old one. Insect —> bug or beetle? No, Hemiptera! It appears to be a hot topic even amongst those who study them. I ran across this site where the debate was going strong in May of last year: http://myrmecos.net/2011/05/11/whats-a-bug/

    Not only was the short article interesting, but the commentary which it generated was quite entertaining as it covered the insects as well as the roots of the language to describe them!

    I have always loved your photographs of flowers, but I think I will love your insect posts equally. Today’s post surprised me because I never thought of beetles as furry before. Amazing.
    ~ Lynda


    October 13, 2012 at 11:07 AM

    • Yes, Hemiptera is the scientific name for what are called true bugs, like the assassin bug I recently showed. Coleoptera is the scientific name for beetles; the term was made up from Greek koleos ‘sheath’ and pteron ‘wing.’ When a beetle is as rest, its wings are sheathed in a sort of two-sided case.

      I’m glad you like these insect pictures as punctuation to the usual flower fare, and as you know I’m likewise fascinated by the origins of the words used to describe both.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 13, 2012 at 11:23 AM

  7. If I were to see this bug with the “naked eye,” wouldn’t see nearly as much as you’ve shown us here. Repeating myself, once again, but another great shot.

    Susan Scheid

    October 13, 2012 at 5:00 PM

    • Thanks, Susan, and I’ll repeat myself, too, in giving credit to my 100mm macro lens. With my eyes alone (even with glasses) I’d never be able to perceive all the little details that can make a picture worthwhile.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 13, 2012 at 5:20 PM

  8. Hang in there…


    October 13, 2012 at 10:12 PM

  9. […] speaking of Kathy Comer’s place, as I did yesterday, Eve and I paid a more recent visit on September 22 after Kathy alerted me to a white variant of […]

  10. […] Which on which doesn’t seem to matter to the search engine, so how about a picture of a beetle on a spine? […]

  11. Perfectly parallel. You’ve got me hooked.

    Steve Gingold

    August 22, 2014 at 2:14 PM

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