A couple of days ago, in my last post, I promised to upload some caterpillar photos. Well, here they are! These are a few white box pictures of tobacco hornworms (Manduca sexta). Apparently this species ranges into British Columbia, but I’ve never found one. And there certainly wouldn’t be any available in the wild locally at this time of year. I bought these specimens in a local per shop. I was there to pick up some crickets (mantid and scorpion food) and saw that they had some of these caterpillars (and also silkworms: Bombyx mori) for sale. Needless to say, I purchased some to play with.
I really like these critters, not that they do much—they are really just big fat eating machines (they grow up to 70 millimetres in length). As you can see, they are a beautiful translucent turquoise colour with diagonal white stripes on the side and a red “horn” at the posterior end (hence the name “hornworm”). The turquoise colour indicates that they have been raised in captivity. In the wild they are bright green in colour due to the yellow (carotenoid) pigments found in the plants they feed on. These yellow pigments combine with the animal’s natural blue pigment (found in their blood) and the result is a green caterpillar. Hopefully these caterpillars will thrive in my care and pupate…eventually providing me with some adult tobacco hornworm moths to photograph.
The photography of these animals was really straight forward: I used the same technique that I described in previous posts (see: How to: white box photography of Macleay’s spectre stick insects). The resulting images are very nice, as white box photos usually are. The turquoise animals stand out nicely against the white background. However, I also experimented with using a white box to produced pictures of these caterpillars with a more natural background. I’ll post those pictures in my next blog.
The technical stuff:
Camera: Olympus E-620 digital SLR
Lens: Zuiko 35mm macro
Settings: manual exposure (F16 @ 1/125 sec)
Lighting: Vivitar 283 flash and VP-1 Vari-power adapter (1/8 power)