Sunday, December 23, 2018

HumBug: Millipede by the Millimeter

Posted By on Sun, Dec 23, 2018 at 7:08 PM

click to enlarge Panoramic image of a Eurasian millipede on a mirror. The photo was an all-nighter. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Panoramic image of a Eurasian millipede on a mirror. The photo was an all-nighter.

I didn't intend to spend all night working on a single photograph but a Eurasian millipede (Ophyiulus pilosus) trapped in a measuring cup was an opportunity to try some equipment in a new way. Instead of using the computer-controlled StackRail to move the focus point, I set it up to travel along the critter, acquiring an image every millimeter. Panoramic software, usually applied to landscapes, allowed combining the 76 resulting exposures into a single image. After positioning the subject, several passes of image acquisitions, adjusting lighting, software fails and crashes, I set everything up, hit the “Stack” button and went to bed at about 5:20 a.m. Post processing the resulting image took several hours as well.
click to enlarge Cyanide millipede. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Cyanide millipede.
Millipedes are among the oldest land animals and in ancient times some Arthropleura grew to be the largest land invertebrates ever, attaining lengths of over 2 meters.
click to enlarge A millipede under black light, possibly a young cyanide millipede. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • A millipede under black light, possibly a young cyanide millipede.
Locally I have noted at least four species, all of which are harmless to humans. Being slow moving creatures without sting, bristles or venom their defenses are coiling into a tight spiral and secreting noxious substances along their sides. At least one local species, the yellow spotted Harpaphe haydeniana, or a close relative, includes cyanide in its arsenal. I think the young of this variety are the ones I've seen glow when illuminated with black light.
click to enlarge A large millipede curled into defensive position. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • A large millipede curled into defensive position.
A pale yellow one I found in a rotten log remains unidentified and may not be known to science yet. Unfortunately, I managed to get only one photograph of it several years ago.
click to enlarge Unidentified millipede, most likely of order Polyzoniida. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Unidentified millipede, most likely of order Polyzoniida.
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