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Boll weevil

Daniel Kariko

Download this image from Wellcome Collection.

Scanning electron microscope composite image of the head of a boll weevil (Anthonomus grandis) found on the front porch of a suburban house. The boll weevil is a beetle that feeds on and lays its eggs in the cotton plant. These agricultural pests have long curved snouts (often half as long as their bodies) and can destroy entire cotton crops. They develop from egg to adult in approximately 20 days and grow on average to 6–8 mm in length. This is one image in a series of work looking at common household pests found inside homes on the outskirts of town. These images of our often-overlooked housemates are in the style of traditional portraits. The width of the image is 4.1 mm.

How was this image created?

“The images start as colour digital files from a stereoscope light microscope,” explains Daniel. “I carefully arrange LED lighting, small reflectors and diffusers, in order to achieve a portrait-like effect. Next, the same area of the specimen is imaged with a scanning electron microscope (SEM) because this microscope has much greater depth of field and thus increased sharpness for the entire specimen. In the end, I composite the colour images from the stereo microscope with the monochromatic images from the SEM to complete the portrait, therefore combining realistic colour with the detail of electron microscope imaging.”