insect art

Sometimes, I come across insects that are so unique in colour and shape, that it looks like they could be works of art. These two Stinkbug nymphs (Family Pentatomidae) found wandering around through the goldenrod in our pasture, are excellent examples.

The top and center photos are of the same insect (click on images for larger views). I can’t say I’ve ever seen a stinkbug that looked quite like this in shape before. In looking through Stephen Marshall’s Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity, there are photos of adult and nymph of the species Menecles insertus that look very similar in shape — very flattened, with the same shape of pronotum (the part of the body that looks like “shoulders” on an insect). The photos in the book depict insects that are nowhere near the same colour as the bright orange stinkbug nymph in these photos, but it had probably just molted. Marshall notes that Menecles insertus “is rarely seen, perhaps because this distinctive, medium-sized (12-14mm), plant-feeding stink bug lives in trees and is active at night.” Well, perhaps that’s the explanation. Whatever, in addition to the flat body, the antennae and legs seem unusual in shape – being very angular. I’ll have to look for more of these and will hopefully find and photograph some of the adult form here at the farm.

The other colourful stinkbug nymph (see below) is also unfamiliar to me. However, there’s something about the shape of it pronotum that suggest to me that it might be some species of Perillus, a predaceous genus which I have found here at the farm in the past. However, I could be quite wrong and perhaps it’s something quite else.

Whatever their identity, they’re both beautiful insects. There seems to be no end to wonderful insects to be found here at the farm.

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15 Responses to “insect art”

  1. kenju Says:

    They are beautiful! Such colorful variations surprise me.

  2. robin andrea Says:

    They truly are works of art, bev. The patterns and colors are stunning and really so beautiful. Beyond my imagination.

  3. John Says:

    You have outdone yourself, Bev. These are just so incredibly beautiful! I’ve never seen anything quite like them; you have an amazingly sharp eye, which is made all the more valuable when teamed up with your photography skills.

  4. Xris (Flatbush Gardener) Says:

    Great shots of cool bugs. As usual!

  5. Cathy Says:

    Bev, your pictures are wonderful. And always the question: why? Why did nature select for these bright colors and intricate patterns? Do they signal an unpleasant experience to would-be predators?

  6. Ruth Says:

    If you showed me the pictures without commentary, I would have thought these were some tropical insects. Such vivid colour and patterns!

  7. bev Says:

    kenju – aren’t the colors incredibly vibrant. Not quite what you might expect to find around a farm here in eastern Canada!

    robin – I just love these stinkbug nymphs so much. They are some of the coolest bugs around, but I don’t think many people actually notice them as they’re quite small (most are about the size of my smallest fingernail).

    John – Thanks! Arent’ they wonderful little creatures? I always thing these little fellows look like folk art sculptures from some country where they decorate objects with bright, intricate brushwork.

    Xris — Thanks! Glad you liked them! (-:

    Cathy – Thanks! Yes, interesting to wonder “why”, isn’t it? I wouldn’t be surprised if the coloration is a warning to predators. Stinkbugs do release stinky droplets when they feel threatened, so it would make sense that they might be brightly marked. The interesting thing is that the older ones are pretty plain and dull looking — usually very camouflaged. It’s only the younger ones that are wingless that are brightly marked — perhaps because they can’t fly to escape, and because they are younger and.. presumably, would make a tender snack for some creature.

    Ruth – They sure do look tropical, don’t they. Definitely colours that we don’t associate with insects here in Canada.

  8. Cindy Says:

    wow!! i’d love to see these with my own eyes, just amazing..i really enjoyed our talk and miss your words/photos so much..thank you for being who u r and doing what u do my friend..back soon :}

  9. bev Says:

    Cindy – You would love these little stinkbugs. They are just so wonderfully marked. And yes, it was great talking to you on the weekend! Take care. (-:

  10. Larry Ayers Says:

    As John said, you’ve outdone yourself with these nymph photos, Bev. Truly weird and beautiful, and well-focused as well!

  11. Ontario Wanderer Says:

    Beautiful! Guess I shall have to brave the heat and get away from my fan for a few minutes, or get a long extension cord.

  12. DougT Says:

    As always, I stand in awe of your photography.

  13. bev Says:

    Larry – Thanks! They certainly are weird and beautiful, aren’t they?

    OW – I hear you on the heat. It’s very hot here today. Sabrina and I did our morning walk, but I don’t think we’ll go out this afternoon. Even the insects seem to be hiding from the sun!

    Doug – Thanks! (-:

  14. Wayne Says:

    Really remarkable bugs, Bev! The ‘why’ of it is my first thought too. Recognition value for mating?

    I haven’t seen any yet that stand out like those do, and we’re practically tropical these days (though without the accompanying rain).

  15. bev Says:

    Wayne – Yes, the “why” part is a bit mysterious. I don’t think it can be tied to recognition for mating as these very colourful insects are still a molt or two away from being adults. I suspect that these are more for warning so that other insects will avoid them. Also, I wonder if some of the species that feed on plants, mimic some of the predaceous species. I don’t know how to tell all the stinkbug nymphs apart, so I don’t know if that could be possible. What I suppose I should do some day (yes, like I need another project!) is to collect a bunch of stink bug nymphs and see if I can raise them through to adult stage. Of course, the problem would be supplying everyone with their desired food — plants to feed on or various insects to eat. I’ll save this project for some time in the future when I don’t have so much on the go! I would think you’d have stinkbug nymphs around your place, but there really are somewhat difficult to find unless you’re making a point of looking for them. I find that they lurk on lower leaves of plants, so they escape notice unless you’re standing around watching the vegetation for awhile. Here, it’s the goldenrod, milkweed and raspberry leaves, but also leaves of poplar, birch and some other trees where I find them wandering about.