Friday, November 4, 2011

White Tortoise Beetle - Silana farinosa

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The picture below is the pupa of the white tortoise beetle, a genus originally restricted to Sri Lanka feeding on curry leaves, and probably on other citrus family. It was first noticed in Malaysia in 1994 by a Malaysian entomologist, Prof. Mohamed Salleh Mohamed Said. This species of beetle is believed to have been introduced into the country via air transportation. They are pests that can destroy these plants if left uncontrolled.

The white tortoise beetle pupa in this post is found at my home curry leaf plant in Malaysia.

This image can also be found at my flickr page:

Scientific Classification:
Order: Coleoptera
Subfamily: Hispinae
Tribe: Cassidini
Genus: Silana
Type species: S. farinosa

Photography Tips:

Sharp picture requires a photography technique called focus stacking. Since the depth-of-field (DOF) in macro photography is quite narrow, a series of pictures are taken at various focal lengths. You can do it either with the help of a tripod and focusing rail, or hand held the camera with a steady hand and turn the focusing ring.

As you focus the specimen from the front to the back, take a series of shots making sure the focused area on all shots cover the entire specimen. Do not worry if your hand move a little to the sides, as long as it is not too much, they can be aligned and stacked using free image stacking software such as CombineZP by Alan Hadley.

The above image was stacked using the following 6 images:

Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Black Muscid Fly, Hydrotaea sp

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This fly was earlier misidentified as Phormia reginia, Calliphoridae. This is actually a Muscidae, Hydrotaea sp.

Muscid fly is commonly called house fly because some of the species are synanthropic. I think it is better just to refer to them as muscid fly since not  all of them are synanthropic. This particular black muscid fly is commonly found in the forest including secondary forests, but are rarely seen in parks around residential areas.

They have an extremely quick reflex to camera flash just like the long-legged fly (Dolichopodidae), so quick that it the fly flew off before the actual flash fires, causing your photos to only capture the leaf or background without the fly. If you are a strobist, you'd know that a camera flash fires two times. The first fire is called a pre-flash, used by every automatic camera system to gauge the accurate amount of flash power to produce so that the photo is not under- or over-exposed. The second fire is the actual flash that is used by the camera to capture an image on the sensor. These happen in a matter of sub-milli-secconds, As the human eye is not as responsive as this fly, we did not know it actually fired twice.

Fortunately, as technology advances, there is a trick that you can deploy if you have a camera where you can control how the flash fires. These cameras have the function to disable the pre-flash and adjust the flash power manually. For some cameras, the pre-flash can be manually fired to gauge the correct exposure, when the fly landed back on the leaf, the actual flash will be fired when you press "shoot".
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This blog is about animal photography and the associated names and identification. There shall be more posts on insects than anything else, although I would post photographs of animal from other class such as arachnida. I may write a little about the animal, if I have the information, and will try on a best effort basis to identify it. Comments and correction by readers are most welcome!

I like the idea of a universal mean of grouping animals into groups based on their characteristics and scientific information, taxonomy. Whenever possible, I only use obligatory taxonomy. Eventhough the names appear complex to me, it sounds very cool. For example, the name Canis lupis familiaris sounds much more awesome than just dog. I hope I have the time to learn a little about Latin and Greek words, since the nomenclature of the taxonomy uses this language.

I am not a scientists, nor an entomologists. However, I will try my best to be as accurate as possible with regards to science. As I have a career, which I also have great passion in it, I would not be able to post as often as I wish for this blog. Please subscribe to the RSS feeds to get updates so that you don't have to come back here on and off to check for new updates.

The photograph below is a queen weaver ant, Oecophylla smaragdina, trying to protect her nest as I approach to photograph her.

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