Friday 5: Insect Eggs!

Today’s Friday 5 is going to be shorter and a bit more of a photo album compared to my usual posts.  I work with the eggs of giant water bugs in my research, and if you read my recent post on insect egg anatomy you know there’s a soft spot in my heart for all things insect egg related.  There are some truly beautiful insects eggs out there (if you haven’t seen the National Geographic insect egg article or Martin Oeggerli’s Micronaut website, you should visit both as soon as possible!) and I try to document them when I see them.  Some of the photos are less than perfect, but I take them for myself so I will remember seeing the eggs instead of focusing on producing a perfect image.  Some insect egg photos from my collection:

cactus eggs

Eggs on a barrel cactus spine.

I have no idea what these are, but I wish I did!  The eggs are gorgeous and have some bizarre structures that I would like to look into further.  If you know what these are, I’d love to hear from you!  I found them on a barrel cactus in October.

lacewing egg

Green lacewing egg, hatched.

I actually know what this one is!  Green lacewings lay their eggs on little stalks like these and they’re all over my yard in the summer.  This egg was laid under the porch light where the lacewings like to hang out at night and the larva had already hatched.  I liked the color of the white stalk against the rust colored adobe walls of my duplex, so I snapped a few photos.  Lacking a flash at the time, this was the least blurry.  :)

moth ovipositing on sliding glass door

Moth ovipositing on sliding glass door.

I was sitting on my couch reading one night when I looked up and noticed a moth (likely a noctuid, though honestly I didn’t look that closely) moving around strangely on the sliding glass door to the backyard.  I got up to see what it was doing and noticed it was laying eggs!  I ran to get my obsolete point and shoot digital camera and took the photo from inside the house through the very dirty glass.  This produced a rather cruddy photo.  Still, it makes me smile every time I see it because it was fun to watch the mom laying her eggs on my door.  All of the eggs eventually hatched, so presumably her efforts were worth it!

eggs on strawberry

Eggs on strawberry.

I despise most fruits, but I eat the few I like in massive quantities when they’re in season.  Last summer I was happily working my way through an entire pound of some of the most delicious organic strawberries I’d ever had when I noticed the little cluster of eggs on this berry just before I popped it into my mouth.  Because I’m me, I pondered the beauty of the drab grey eggs against the bright red strawberry for a while and decided it warranted a photograph.  I love how the photo turned out!  I didn’t think to save the eggs to identify them, but I think they’re probably stink bug eggs based on the features I can see in my photos.

Lethocerus eggs hatching

Lethocerus medius eggs hatching

Last but not least, these are some of the eggs I study, laid by the giant water bug Lethocerus medius.  This species is an emergent brooder and lays its eggs above the water line.  The father then carries water to the eggs and protects them until the nymphs hatch.  They are gorgeous, enormous eggs, but they’re even more impressive when they hatch.  The nymphs hatch synchronously, so 200+ little water bugs wriggle their little bodies out the eggs at the same time.  It’s an amazing sight!

I wish more people took a closer look at insect eggs because they are fascinating up close.  There are a ton of different styles and shapes and structures and vary quite a bit from group to group.  They make great photographic subjects too because they don’t move!  I encourage everyone to go out and look for insect eggs around their homes.  And if you get great photos that you’d like to share, feel free to share links on/upload them to The Dragonfly Woman’s Facebook page.  I’d love to see what you find!

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13 responses to “Friday 5: Insect Eggs!

  1. That last photo is AMAZING!
    Here are some of my egg shots:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/weirdbuglady/5177360158/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/weirdbuglady/4700554752/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/weirdbuglady/4700554442/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/weirdbuglady/4700911624/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/weirdbuglady/4699974983/

    Most of those ended up hatching parasitoids instead of the expected insects (sadly, that includes the polyphemus moth egg). Here is one of the wasps that hatched from the soldier bug eggs:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/weirdbuglady/4726075244/

  2. Absolutely fascinating. Just last weekend I saw a backbreeding species just covered with eggs. I had never seen anything like it before and was tickled to have my granddaughter with me. Of course, I was without camera in hand. ~karen

    • Yeah, that sounds about right. That is why I now carry my behemoth of a point and shoot with me EVERYWHERE I go now! I got tired of missing things. :) Glad you got to see a back brooder though! Aren’t they fabulous? I really love the bugs I work with.

  3. I love your Friday 5! This was really interesting to read.

  4. Very nice post as always. I kind of ‘discovered’ the beauty and interesting features of insect/bug eggs late last summer with my mantid egg encasements. I’m developing an eye for finding them now, and I’m looking forward to spring weather to find more.

    And I just posted a super-macro of a lacewing egg (unhatched) on my blog, too:

    http://blog.naturesarchive.com/2011/01/one-millimeter-egg-that-defies-gravity.html

    I just love how that tiny fragile looking thread holds the egg upright.

    • Nice photo! Way better than mine I will happily admit. I think insect eggs are pretty amazing, though you can’t even see the best parts. All the little craters and ridges and polygons and such are stunning if you have a chance to look at them up close!

  5. Michael Suttkus, II

    Lacewing eggs take me back to a summer with a much younger me finding a long row of them on the steering wheel of a car my neighbor had left the window down on. (See, once upon a time, rolling windows up and down involved, well, rolling, and a lot of work. Kids today and your electric doohickies!) Nobody knew what they were, and it took me years to discover the truth. Back then, they were a mystery, just one of those strange bits of life in the world that have always fascinated me.

    • Ha ha! I don’t have electronic windows or locks, in spite of having a 2000 model car! I still crank down my windows. :) How fun to find them in your car though! I’m glad you discovered their mystery eventually. They’re very interesting eggs!

  6. I especially love the last two shots- those are fantastic!

  7. Fantastic post and beautiful photos. I look forward to Friday Five.

  8. Amazing photos. I will be keeping a lookout for insect eggs this year following this. Thankyou!

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