Our first nano GigaPan

We’ve been quietly portaging our drawer images to the GigaPan website over these last few months, and more than 1,100 are now available for perusal and annotation. We’ve also partnered with other taxonomists and a library scientist to re-purpose many of the images and to more rigorously explore their utility. More on that later. Right now I want to highlight our first nano-scale GigaPan(!):

This little ensign wasp (Hymenptera: Evaniidae: Acanthinevania sp.), collected in western Victoria, is not quite 1 cm long… and yet it took almost 2,200 individual images to create this GigaPan. It was several days work (thanks István!!!) at the compound ’scope, with numerous sets of stacked micrographs required to account for all the three-dimensionality exhibited by this specimen. The resolution is excellent—one can even distinguish the comb-like structure of the probasitarsal notch (part of the antenna cleaner)! See below.

Was this micrograph worth the effort? Yes. As a resource for teaching people about Hymenoptera, or at least Evaniidae, it’s beautiful. We also employed this GigaPan, with the site’s built-in annotation and visualization tools, as part of an outreach / learning exercise for the Hymenoptera Anatomy Ontology (HAO) project. It worked like a charm. And behind the curtain we are setting this image up as an object for formal SVG overlay annotations to illustrate the HAO and as a specimen for redescription using new methods. More on that very soon.

Are we ready to do this for lots of specimens? Not quite. It was extraordinarily labor-intensive. We will likely train one of our technicians to create these kinds of GigaPans and then do several more hymenopterans (across the phylogeny of the order) for the HAO’s glossary website. In the meantime we’d love to hear your comments. We’ll even take requests! What insect(s) would you like to see imaged at high resolution?

In the meantime you should take a peak at Gene Cooper’s GigaPan feed, as well as the Nano GigaPan blog for other images along the same vein. Cool stuff!

4th Annual Hexapod Haiku Challenge

Winter crane fly (Diptera: Trichoceridae: Trichocera forcipula) standing in snow. Photo by Ombrosoparacloucycle.

winter crane fly

dances gracefully

between snowflakes

It’s a dismal, cold, rainy day here in Raleigh, and yet the apricot blossoms on the brickyard are primed to explode into an festival of white. I also collected eight fall cankerworm moths (Geometridae: Alsophila pometaria) at my porch light last night, including a female ready to lay eggs on our maples! Could it be that spring is just around the corner? Time then to announce this year’s Hexapod Haiku Challenge!

The Motivation

The goal of this contest is to encourage people to think about the myriad ways in which insects and other terrestrial arthropods interact with their environments and other organisms (including humans!) and to express these thoughts through short poems. Despite the name of this contest we actually encourage any short poems you’re inspired to write, including (but not limited to!):

  • Haiku (of course): An elegant medium, traditionally focusing on seasonal changes and nature and with a relatively standard format and objective.
  • Senryū: Similar in structure to haiku but focused on the foibles of of humans and, in our case, insects, rather than seasons and nature.
  • Haiga: A haiku that is accompanied by an illustration. Include a photo or draw a picture!
  • Any other short poem you want to write!

We offer four awards with (small) prizes: 1) best in show, 2) runner-up, 3) best entry from poet under the age of 13, 4) runner-up from poet under the age of 13. Poems from any of the categories listed above are eligible to win any of the awards and therefore are judged together. We also have honorable mention categories that change every year depending on the submissions we get (most traditional, funniest, best IPM-themed poem, etc.)

Information We Need

Your poems(!), your name, your contact info (include city, state, country), and your age if <13 years old. We also need to know if you are not comfortable with your full name being linked to your poems if they get published on the Web or in NCSU materials.


The following resources might be useful as inspiration or simply as information:

  • American Haiku Society definitions of haiku and senryū.
  • Wikipedia pages for haiku, including pseudohaiku, haiga, and senryū.
  • Haiku Chronicles podcast (especially episode 3 about senryū, episode 8 about how to write a haiku, and episode 9 about what is a haiku).

The Rules

Anyone is eligible to submit poems except for our judges. We’ll accept up to three (3) original, short, entomological poems per poet. Friends of the Museum (minimum $10 donation if you’re a student, $25 if you’re not) are eligible to submit an unlimited number of poems. Your haiku should be submitted by 11:59pm, March 20th (first day of spring!) either…

  1. as an email to OR
  2. as tweets (be sure to add @ncsuinsects #HexapodHaiku) OR
  3. on 3×5 cards (one per haiku; cards will not be returned) mailed to the following address:
  4. Hexapod Haiku
  5. NCSU Insect Museum
  6. Department of Entomology
  7. North Carolina State University
  8. Box 7613
  9. Raleigh, NC 27695 USA

How Poems Are Judged

Three to five judges, appointed by the director of the Insect Museum, evaluate entries based on literary and artistic merit, as well as accuracy with respect to arthropod biology. Winning entries will be announced on our Insect Museum blog; see the 2008, 2009, and 2010 winning entries for examples.

The Fine Print

You retain the copyrights to your poems. By submitting your poems to us you grant NC State University, the NCSU Insect Museum, and the NCSU Department of Entomology permission to use, reproduce, or distribute the poem(s) in any manner, without payment of fee, in perpetuity.

A Final Word

The word Hexapoda refers to all insects and their six-legged arthropod relatives (springtails, diplurans, and proturans). We’re calling this contest the Hexapod Haiku Challenge only for alliterative purposes. We would love to have haiku, senryū, haiga, and pseudohaiku that feature any familiar arthropod associated with the field of entomology, including those arthropods without six legs (e.g., spiders, millipedes, centipedes, and scorpions).

Report from the Gigapixel Conference

Matt Bertone and I just returned from the Fine International Conference on Gigapixel Imaging for Science at Carnegie Mellon University, where we presented a poster (Bertone & Deans 2010) and proceedings paper (Bertone & Deans 2010) about our drawer imaging project using this new technology. We also attended a juried gallery opening at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History that featured one of our images (see it in vivo on this GigaPan image) and all we can say is W-O-W! It was definitely an inspirational event, with keynote speakers from NASA, National Geographic, and Google. We’re especially excited about the new functionality coming to the site (still looking for more sophisticated annotation tools, though).

We’ve published 886 drawer images so far and are on track to complete all 2,700 drawers in the collection by spring, 2011. Check back here or the GigaPan site for more updates!

Our print on exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

Fielding questions about our poster.

Some of our experiences from Pittsburgh:

«Small» fries at Essie’s Original Hot Dog shop (aka The Original Hot Dog Shop, The O or The Dirty O).

T. rex Mr. Rogers.

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