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BCA News: Fall 2021

Green Potato Bugs
Danielle Edwards, FBCA

I have always held a fascination and wonder of nature. I often go for garden walks and continue to be in awe of what nature creates. Recently, while walking in the garden I observed some bright, lime green round eggs. I found them interesting at that moment and wondered what type of insect might lay those eggs. Further investigation went on my 'to do' list.

A few weeks later I spotted more in a different location. Again, I was intrigued but busy, so I looked and walked on. The third time I saw a group of these eggs I thought I need to photograph these and have a closer look at them.

I carefully took them (and the wood they were on) into my studio and set up lights. When thinking about how to photograph the eggs I decided that I didn't want to create a composition that was too tight around the eggs. I wanted to include some of the branch to show their environment and give them a sense of scale and proportion.

They looked like miniature ping pong balls. I left them in the studio and set about trying to identify the insect that produced these fascinating eggs. The next day I went back to look at them and they had developed a tiny red mark which looked somewhat like a smile. I was still yet to identify what these fascinating gifts from nature were.

I sent the photo of the eggs to a friend who is a biologist and natural history photographer to assist in identification. He quickly identified them as green potato bug eggs and said they would hatch any day.

Green potato bugs (Cuspicona simplex) © Danielle Edwards, FBCA

I was busy the next few days so did not get back to my eggs straight away. When I returned there were clear, empty shells with no colour whatsoever. The little critters had hatched in my absence! I managed to get a photograph of the nymphs who had moved, as a group, only a few millimetres away from the egg shells. They huddled together in a little group somewhat like they were when they were inside the eggs. My camera was still set up in the same position ready for hatching so I slightly adjusted my lights and produced a comparable photograph to the one of the eggs prior to hatching.

Sometime after taking the photograph the nymphs started to get active and move around so I put them back in the garden. It would have been great to photograph them at the adult stage, but I didn't want to be chasing green potato bugs everywhere.

There is a joy in finding exciting things like this in nature. Apart from the fun with photography and lighting, when you are not a biologist it involves a multitude of skills such as research and basic detective work, not to mention enthusiasm and wonder. It is wonderful to keep learning through photography. Having a background in photography is like having the gift that keeps giving in so many ways.

You can see Green Potato Bugs and other award-winning images in the BioImages 2020 Gallery.

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