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Gold & black beetle - Sacodes pulchella

Gold & black beetle - Sacodes pulchella
Nashua, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, USA
May 31, 2006
Size: 4 mm
Here the beetle got soaked from my efforts to keep the less dehydration-tolerant beetles from dying in the brightly lit light arena. I give the container a squirt from a water
spray bottle every so often.

Images of this individual: tag all
Gold & black beetle - Sacodes pulchella Gold & black beetle - Sacodes pulchella Gold & black beetle - Sacodes pulchella Gold & black beetle - Sacodes pulchella

light arena?
Could you please describe your "light arena" a little more (or point me to a Forum topic if easier)? From the bug's view, I'm picturing something like a lighted ball field at night. Do you shoot through a glass lid on those deli containers? Even after hours in the frig, I'm having trouble keeping many of the subjects in the "arena".
PS very nice colors on the Marsh beetle!

Light arena
My idea was to create a well-lit space to contain live insects while I photographed them. After trying several smaller, simpler setups, I constructed a larger version that I've used almost daily for many months now.

The arena consists of four twelve-inch circline flourescent tubes mounted securely inside a cavity consisting of two pastic oil-change pans painted white on the inside and turned face-to-face. I cut a circular opening in the top to mount a clear, frosted, plastic wastebasket, adhereing it with clear plastic packing tape, and made smaller openings in the other end for electric feeds to the lights and a small electronics fan. When I flip a switch, the fan comes on to cool the setup and the circline tubes illuminate the inside of the wastebasket. What I have described so far is all mounted with bolts, nuts and washers atop an upturned, sawed-off plastic bucket, which contains the ballasts and small fan.

A wide funnel-like section of a round plastic deli tray fits down into the wastebasket opening to shade my eyes. Its mouth accepts a quart-size, clear plastic deli container. In the bottom of the wastebasket I placed a disc of colored foamcore art board for background. I eventually found that there was just barely enough space between deli container and wall of wastebasket to put my ring flash turned outward for indirect lighting. This yeilded better color and allowed me to freeze motion better. A final improvement was to coat the inside of the deli container with Insect-a-Slip (available through in order to keep climbers from scaling the walls.

Some photos would make this all clearer but I find no means for including images of my equipment in this text.

Thanks Jim!
Thanks for taking the time to type all that out! I think I have a prety good picture of what you're describing. I actually have tried using a smaller (single)circular flourescent tube from one of those reading magnifer lights (after removing the magnifer lens). The tube is enclosed behind frosted plastic, but I've still been getting halos on any shiny subjects - I guess it's still too direct of a source.

I'll have to try the Insect-a-Slip, as I have not been happy with my recent shots through the glass top of two opposing petri dishes. But even confined to the bottom of the tub, many of my subjects seem to just run, run, run, making photography more of a game of "catch up with the running bug".

Thanks again for your description.

Here's the link
to my light arena.

More tricks
Many beetles will run, run, run and get good and thirsty. If at that point you put a few drops of water in the bottom of the container, they will pause for a drink and you can photograph them. This is especially effective with ground beetles, probably because they have little dehydration tolerance.

Lepturines and other nectar-feeding beetles will pause for some molasses water, honey water, or a small chunk of ripe watermelon.

For the Energizer Bunny types that just keep going and going, you might try knocking them out with some ethyl acetate. Just keep them in the ethyl acetate jar till they slow way down -- no longer. They are said to make a full recovery.

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