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Globular Springtail - Sminthurinus latimaculosus

Globular Springtail - Sminthurinus latimaculosus
Harvard, Worcester County, Massachusetts, USA
December 2, 2006
Size: .4mm

Thanks Frans
Scott has been taking some incredible pictures. We're using the same equipment, so I'll have to experiment to see if I can get better shots.

I had to crank up the magnification to 5x and still had to crop the images at ~50-60%. I'm using an aperture range of f/5.6-f/8. Single images, no stacking. I also have the MT-24 flash heads aimed one click away from the subject with Gary Fong puffer diffusers (with an additional sheet of bright white tissue paper underneath). The heads are positioned about 90 degrees apart. This seems to give great light from the area around both sides of the subject.

These are all hand held shots BTW. It is impossible to use a tripod with these mobile critters as you know!

You just saved me a ton of time experimenting to get my settings where they need to be. One other change I think I need to make is to ditch my white background. Your natural wood backgrounds look nicer, and with less contrast, the pictures seem to come out a lot better.
About a month ago after reading one of your comments about the equipment you use, I bought a pair of Gary Fong puffer diffusers. They've been a good addition.

I've been admiring the great springtail images you've been posting, and can only imagine all the effort you put into each one. At 5x it's really difficult to even find the bug through the lens, and if your focus is off by half a millimeter, it's not in focus.

Thanks for the help, and keep those great images coming!

Seeing your excellent images...
convinced me to change imaging systems and I'm soo glad that I did! It's been pure joy to be able to get these captures of the smallest insects. Keep an eye on your reds which tend to saturate a little more when bouncing the light off of the wood. The Fongs work great but I'm finding that I need even more diffusion for the dark shiny beetles etc. I'm still experimenting with that. Lighting is always a challenge you know!

On cloudy days, even with the 40D it is kind of difficult to see these little critters at 5x. A lot of times, all I can see is a silhouette. I just fire off a lot of images in burst mode and I always get at least a few good pics. It's nice when these springtails are a little larger (~2mm) I can ususally back off to about 3.5x. It's also nice to have a large memory card in the camera :^)

Thanks for the kind words Tom! I'm glad I could help, but to be honest, I'm still on the learning curve with this stuff.

Sminthurinus latimaculosus
Given the recent upload of detailed pictures of S. atrapallidus by Scott Justis, I realised your pictures are of specimens of a different species. Sminthurinus latimaculosus has white legs as atrapallidus, but also a head that is much more pale than the body. In addition at the back of the head, laterally, there is a large dark spot, hence latimaculosus (= with lateral spot).

Frans, when they're this small, it's hard to get a detailed image. If I could, identification would be a lot easier, but I know you like a challenge:-)

Hi Tom, given your recent pictures of Bourletiella juanitae, I'm back to my original ID of Sminthurinus. Compare in both pictures the antennae and especially the 4th antennal segment. In this picture it is thick and not subsegmented as in Sminthurinus. In Bourletiella it is thin and subsegmented, as in your recent pictures.
Given its size, it is a juvenile, and it remains troublesome to ID it up to species level...
It could be a juvenile S. brunneus or S. minutus. But both these species have been sunk to infraspecific colour variants of S. quadrimaculatus...

Wish I could have gotten a better picture, but it's so small. Is this an adult or an immature?

Adult B. juanitae
can be .8 mm for the females and .6 mm for the males.

BTW, with very small specimens you might want to try 'ultrascopic illumination': dark background, illumination from the side, not from above. Sometimes this helps to make visible details of structures that are not visible otherwise. You will have to experiment to see what is best.

ultrascopic illumination
Frans, I'll try this method, and also Jim's method of putting a little water in a plastic container to keep the springtails from moving too much.

Bourletiella juanitae
Hi Tom. This specimen is quite troublesome. At first it was my impression it was a female Sminthurides. But I could not find a Sminthurides with matching colour pattern. Then I assumed it must be Sminthurinus, given the 4th antennal segment is not subsegmented. But again I could not find a Sminthurinus with matching colour pattern.
B. juanitae seems the best colour pattern match, but... then the 4th antennal segment should be subsegmented. However, I cannot see that on the picture...
Family = Bourletiellidae.

Thanks Frans
This one was the tiniest one I've photographed so far.

Genus = Sminthurinus
Family Katiannidae.

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