willapalens > Collections

Note added 12/2012:

Over time the DNA sequences have been received for these specimens as the data has become available or modified. The tree is dynamic and updated by computer constantly. A reference to the BOLD DNA test is given and changed as it is updated. I have tried to add a link to the species page at BOLD for those specimens with sequences. This will give geographic distribution, etc. Information on the Barcode of Life Database (BOLD) is nicely explained by Bob Patterson of Moth Photographers Group:
mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/BOLDintro.shtml

Often it has been asked ... how do you photograph these moths? Nothing special as time is limited but over time I have a process which works farily well. Also, it is within budget: I wrote some time ago:

Photographing the moths
You asked for it ..

For a long time I tried taking pictures in situ of the moths and basically gave up due to where they were, lighting, and the fact about the time I had positioned they might take off. So I started capturing them alive at dawn. Most the geometrids and micromoths will usually just about jump into a vial (usually 1" dia .. by say 3 inch deep). I lower the open vial right over them and just touch and they nearly always jump in. Never smash the moth into what it is sitting on. The noctuids will usually fall into the open vial where they play dead .. until you forget to put on the cap. Come up to them from the lower side with vial at an angle and just touch them ... in they go in almost always. These vials serve for most all moths but occasionally a larger one needs a bigger vial. These are the brown vials pills come in from the Rx. My daughter is in Pharmacy so I have a good supply. The vials do not harm the moth and keeps them from flying and beating themselves against something and losing scales. I have never had a moth die in a vial for lack of air or any reason either ... but one could drill a small hole in the lid to make your breathing easier.

After collecting at the various porch lights and my light traps (all on my couple of acres of property), I then store in the refrigerator until I can photograph which depends on not only my daily time but outside light. Sunlight or even dayligh coming through a window (glass and UV) is bad ... giving a blue cast. I use a plastic container to confine the moth. A used translucent or clear plastic food container with a hole in bottom to shoot through works well. Recently I have used clear PVC pipe (?3 inch dia) cut into lengths so the camera can rest on the rim to steady and the lens will be about 20-40mm from the specimen. It also blocks the moth in when they suddenly fly (which they do). I have often had to recapture off the lens. The hole can be covered with a lid or something to keep the moth confined. The majority of moths (especially noctuids will just sit there and allow you to snap away. I can often get them to show their hindwing by touching the nose with couple of hairs from a very small brush. Plastic is used for confinement again because of light transmission for what i think is true spectrum.

My cameras (Fujifilm S7000) have a super macro setting so I can shoot as close as 1cm from the subject. I'm not pushing a camera brand as there are many that will work fine if not better. I have purchased them used on Ebay for about 25% of what they cost at one time. It is just that I am so comfortable with all the buttons and nobs and often the moths warm up fast and are ready to fly. I have several Fujifilms and have shot well in excess of 30,000 images on them. However, you do sacrifice some depth of field at that close range and lighting becomes more difficult. I like to take a rather high resoultion image, back off to say 25-45 mm and then crop to eliminate a lot of background. The background is some scrape cloth, a piece of wood or bark, .. or a plastic lab paper grid for scale. Recently I have laid a very fine mesh (400 per inch) nylon screen over the grid or background which not only breaks up glare but allows one to pivot the moth to angle for orientation. Lighting is from high intensity desk lamps (cheap) and one old microscope light. Point here is to surround the moth with light to reduce shadow.

I find it important for the camera to have adjustment when using manual for white balance to shoot under the various types of light (in my case incandescent) and get as close to the true color as possible. Also, I shoot manual shutter speed and aperture opening. I use AUTO for only the focus as the digital might like you to shoot at say a 400th sec. and f2.8 but for good depth of field something around 100th second at f7.5 is a far better pic. I think.

Oh and when through I release the subjects back to the brush around my house where they came from. Well, over the past couple of years I have selected a few from different species to be pinned for the good of science to have a DNA sequence taken. I basically never touch them and most the time just open the back door or walk out with the vial and let them fly off. Make sure you have a good picture first though.

Hey sorry ... you asked for it ... Photography is as interesting as the incredible variations in color and patterns in the moths which seldom are realized when just looking a them on the wall or in a crack. I try to get an image like one would have under a microscope ... and try to document and preserve it. There are some really good photographers of bugs and many here on BG like John Davis... and I am pretty amateur compared to them. But the investment is minimal. It takes some experiment but with digital you can shoot away and if not great .. adjust, delete and try again. I constantly change the method here and there.

Have fun.

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