The Welcome Image Awards are given to scientists who have submitted images over the past 18 months that best celebrate the splendor of nature. This year, the award winners include several images of insects.
This photo (below) by Kevin MacKenzie captures the fine structure of the wing scales of a moon moth.
The scales have a finger-like fringe and fine ridges. Wing scales are produced by special “scale cells” in the epidermis of the moth wing. The scale cells secrete the cuticle that we see as scales. The scales are loosely attached to the wings. Excessive handling of Lepidoptera can rub the scales off the wings.
Another winning Lepidoptera image came from a caterpillar. This photomicrograph by Spike Walker uses Differential Interference Contrast Microscopy (DIC / Nomarski) to capture the crochets or hooks on the prolegs of a caterpillar. In addition to their short stubby true legs extending from the smaller thorax next to the head, caterpillars have protrusions of the abdomen that are used to grip surfaces including the stems of plants. The hooks provide a velcro-like grip to stems or other surfaces. The grip is noticeable if you hold a caterpillar on your finger and try to pull it off.
The entire gallery, including other insect images can be viewed on the Telegraph Website. The images are on display at Welcome Collection in London England. If you are in the area, you can stop by and see them live.