The December 2017 issue of The Coleopterists Bulletin (vol. 71, no. 4) is hitting mailboxes now, and once again I have the honor of providing the cover photo. This one features an adult of the cactus beetle, Moneilema armata (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) on its host, cholla (Opuntia imbricata). I photographed this beetle in June 2014 near Vogel Canyon in Otero Co., Colorado. Cactus beetles are notorious for hiding deep within the mass of spiny stems and branches of their hosts, making long forceps an absolute necessity for collecting them. Occasionally, however, they venture out onto more exposed parts of the plant—in this case, up near the tip of a stem and onto a nearly open flower bud, and the value contrast between the black beetle, green stem, pink flower, gold spines, and blue sky made for a truly lovely composition. If I have only one regret about the photo, it was the stiff southerly wind that kept blowing the beetle’s left antenna and preventing it from matching the perfectly symmetrical arc of the right antenna—a small complaint.
This is another example of the flash-illuminated subject with natural blue sky background technique that I have become so fond of, at least for diurnal insects resting on flowers and foliage. I learned this technique from John Abbott a few years earlier at the inaugural BugShot Workshop in Gray Summit, Missouri (just 15 miles from my home), and it has since become my default background and part of my signature style.
This is the fourth issue of The Coleopterists Bulletin to feature one of my photographs on the cover. The first was the June 2013 (vol. 67, no. 2) issue, featuring the stunning green weevil Eurhinus cf. adonis, and the very next issue (September 2013, vol. 67, no. 3) featured the jewel beetle Chrysobothris octocola. Two years later I had a photo on the cover of the March 2015 (vol. 69, no. 1) issue, a striking red and black longhorned beetle Crossidius coralinus fulgidus.
If you’re not one already, consider becoming a member of The Coleopterists Society (I’ve been one for 36 years now!). Their flagship journal, The Coleopterists Bulletin, is your one-stop shop for all things beetley—a quarterly fix of pure elytral ecstacy! Membership also includes online access to archives of past issues via JSTOR and BioOne.
© Ted C. MacRae 2018