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Beautiful Cucumber Beetle

I have just started the hobby of using a digital microscope to explore the anatomy of insects. I have been interested in insects since I was young, which led me on a path to receive a degree in Environmental Studies from Cal State University Monterey Bay. College gave me a basic understanding of biology, which I now study as a hobby. The following insects that I will be posting about are found in California and are either native or invasive. The Spotted Cucumber Beetle under the microscope this weekend was likely Diabrotica undecimpunctata, a native, which falls under the leaf beetle family Chrysomeloideae. These green-colored spotted beetles can be found around August, huddling on a single plant together, taking in the sunshine, and sharing a luscious 4-course leaf.

A picture of a cucumber beetle under a digital microscope. Photo by N. Morrison/MYOPScience

Here is a closeup of the cucumber beetle's very tiny head where he is showing off his antennae, segments of his antennae or antennomeres, compound eyes, and his gorgeous mouthparts. He even has a cute little mustache (sensory hairs). He was approximately 7mm in length. Keep in mind that without a microscope, one may only be able to make out the general shape and colors of this insect since it is so small. Something I found interesting about seeing an insect at this magnification was its cool little mouthpieces farthest from its mouth or the maxillary palps. They are like little spoons to help shove food into its mouth or sense if the food is of quality to eat. If you look closely, you can even see a groove-like structure in the maxillary palp. I am unsure of the function of the groove, but my curiosity has peaked. I highly recommend everyone get into a hobby to learn about the minute details of the natural world around us.

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