The Bug Geek

Insects. Doing Science. Other awesome, geeky stuff.

Photo Friday – uncooperative but adorable Tenebrionid beetle (Neatus tenebrioides)

We heat our house primarily with our wood stove in the winter. Right now we’re in the middle of the difficult transitional period where it’s not cold enough to have a good, ripping fire going 24-7, but too cold to let the fire go out. It’s a delicate balancing act, I tell ya.

Anyways, this all requires some extra chores, namely, the hauling and stacking of logs. Earlier this week I was moving logs from our wood shed into the alcove at the front of our house (it’s much nicer to get wood from the alcove whilst in jammies on a chilly morning), when I found a little fellow who’d been all tucked up in a little nook of bark, ready to wait out the winter.

I was tremendously rude and brought him inside and asked him to pose for a picture or twenty.

He was not very obliging about sitting in my white box, and was quite determined to escape post-haste. This all made for lots of blurry and badly-framed and over/under-exposed photos and an exasperated photographer.

I even tried the TOTALLY CHEATING method of cooling him down with an ice pack…but the moment he warmed up…zoom, off he’d run!

Finally, I decided to try providing him with a more “normal” substrate: some bark and a leaf scavenged from the alcove. On the leaf he went…and you could practically hear the “Aaaaaahhhh, this is more like it!

teneb on leaf small

He settled down almost immediately.

Then, after discovering the wood chip, he became uncooperative again (he wanted only to be UNDER the chip, not on it), but stopped roaming long enough to peek at me for a final (rather adorable) picture:

Tenebrionid (rather adorable)


(Totally cute darkling beetle: Neatus tenebrioides (Tenebrionidae)

20 responses to “Photo Friday – uncooperative but adorable Tenebrionid beetle (Neatus tenebrioides)

  1. Brigette December 9, 2011 at 8:05 AM

    Love it – agree, totally adorable!

  2. Ruth Fitzpatrick December 9, 2011 at 3:39 PM

    I notice you almost always refer to them as “guys” (unless you know for sure otherwise).
    I always refer to spiders as female… odd, eh?

    • TGIQ December 9, 2011 at 10:13 PM

      Hmmm, interesting observation, Ruth. I think I have noticed my propensity to call most bugs “he” unless it has characteristics that allow me to immediately recognize it as a “she”. In this case, I don’t know offhand any really obvious distinguishing male/female characters for Tenebrionids. Why do I pick “he”…? Well gosh, to be honest I have no idea. I should perhaps make an effort to be more inclusive with my critter pronouns!! πŸ™‚

  3. Morgan Jackson December 9, 2011 at 3:53 PM

    Wow Geek, the diligence really paid off! These are fantastic shots!

  4. eremophila December 9, 2011 at 4:05 PM

    Humans seem to believe they are smarter than bugs, but this one kept you on your toes πŸ™‚ This week I found a large ant dragging a dead winged insect 4 times its size and tried to photograph it, but it was moving as such a speed in and out of ground litter, it was impossible to get a non-blurry shot. No, I did not want to anger the ant πŸ™‚

    • TGIQ December 9, 2011 at 10:15 PM

      Insects definitely can be incredibly challenging subjects to photograph – most seem to be constantly on the move (place to go, people to see and all that…) Too bad about your ant shot, sounds like it would have been a great natural history moment to capture!

  5. dragonflywoman December 9, 2011 at 8:06 PM

    Lovely new photos! And that beetle is definitely adorable.

  6. TGIQ December 9, 2011 at 10:16 PM

    Thanks, DFW πŸ™‚ Yeah, he’s quite the little cutie (if exasperating!)

  7. Ted C. MacRae December 9, 2011 at 11:16 PM

    Noy only that, but it makes for a much more pleasing background than boring white.

    • TGIQ December 10, 2011 at 8:42 AM

      I agree; I’m running out of useable substrate around here, though, it’s getting a bit snowed-in (that said, I’m also running out of live subjects…it may be time for Forgotten Photo Friday to kick in for the season…)

  8. Wanderin' Weeta December 10, 2011 at 4:53 PM

    I totally cheat. After I cool down the critters in the fridge, I photograph them on top of an icepack covered with a thin cloth, so they don’t get a chance to warm up so fast.

    It works for some, at least.

    I’m considering getting a few dead leaves, big ones without stiff veins, and using them, soaked until they’re pliable, to cover the icepack. They do look much better on a normal background.

    • TGIQ December 13, 2011 at 7:39 PM

      I just have had no luck with the ice pack (it never works when I try it)…I find the animals just look unnatural, and by the time they’ve thawed enough to look reasonable again, they’re moving too quickly. It’s ok for “documentation”-type images for me, but for images where I’m going for “pretty” more than “science”, I don’t like the result…

  9. Tim Eisele December 12, 2011 at 3:00 PM

    Yes, I’ve also noticed that beetles are more likely to stand still on natural-like surfaces than on paper. A lot of them will happily perch on fingertips, for example. They are often happy to stay still on window screen, too. Pretty much any rough surface that they can hook their feet into seems to suit them better than a smooth surface.

  10. Ted C. MacRae December 14, 2011 at 9:31 AM

    I’ve yet to take (or see) a photo of an insect that has been cooled (by whatever means) that doesn’t somehow look “off.” My strategy now is just brutal persistence – eventually the insect either gets used to its surroundings or just plain tuckers out. One trick I’ve found with some insects is to let the crawl under a leaf to hide and then very carefully lift up the leaf – if you do it slowly enough it seems they don’t realize they’re exposed and you can photograph to your hearts content.

    I’m a firm believer that one can go for both “pretty” and “science” in a single shot if you set your mind to it.

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