44 of a kind

September 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

Last week in a post entitled “Life on the Eucalypt” I showed a couple of shots of a Eucalypt leaf beetle (Chrysophtharta cloelia).  To keep the theme going, I thought today’s post should be of a gathering of 2nd instar larvae of the same beetle.

At this young stage, the motto for these tiny larvae (approx. 3mm each) is definitely “safety in numbers”. After hatching out as a group, the larvae huddle together and start eating their leaf from the tip upwards, eventually spreading out to other leaves as they move through their growth cycles. Once the larvae are fully developed, they will travel down the tree before pupating in the soil and emerging as shiny new leaf beetles, ready to take on the world and continue the cycle of life.

* Please note: Images can be clicked to view larger *Eucalyptus Leaf Beetle larvaeEucalypt leaf beetle larvae (Chrysophtharta cloelia)
Canon 5D, MPE-65 @ 1.5x, Full flash

On a technical note, capturing this image was somewhat awkward as it was necessary to perfectly align the plane of focus with the leaf on which the larvae were sitting. This helped to increase the apparent depth of field in the image, ensuring that as many of the subjects as possible were in sharp focus. Even with this technique, this image required 2 separate shots at slightly different focus points to ensure that all 44 of the larvae were sharp. Due to the fact that most leaves are not perfectly flat, it was an impossibility to capture everything in one image. It’s at times like these where techniques such as focus stacking really come into their own and help finish off the image.

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