SEM Art of Bugs, Plants and Lichens

Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) is a type of charged particle microscopy and produces images in grayscale. As such, the images are 'digitally painted' as realistically as possible. Some images are montages, meaning that they comprise of two or more images which have been seamlessly blended together. Sometimes scanlines occur in the images which can be seen as faint black lines. These are a result of where electronic charge (electrons) accumulates at various regions on the subject which can deflect the electron beam off course. For suggestions or commissions imagery you can contact me through the contact form.

Asplenium trichomanes

Preview spread from one of my book projects exploring nature through SEM.

Butterfly Wing Scales

A close up of the scales on a butterflies wing.

Butterfly Wing Scales

Butterfly Wing Scales

A close up of a butterfly wing showing two structurally different scales. The scales grow from sockets in the wing and here they alternate.

Butterfly Wing Scale

Magnified x2,500, a butterfly photonic crystal protruding from one of a multitude of sockets on the wing.

Butterfly Proboscis

A butterfly proboscis coiled up. The proboscis is a long flexible tube that the insect uses to suck nectar and other fluids through. The proboscis is studded with sensory glands as you can see in the following close up shot.

Butterfly Proboscis

Daisy pollen grains adhered to the proboscis and sensory glands can be seen protruding from the surface.

Daisy Pollen Grain

Close up of a Daisy pollen grain. The large spikes help the grain to adhere to the fur and hair of passing animals and insects like Velcro.

Ommatidium

Close-up showing a scale resting on the surface of the compound eye.

Ommatidium

Close-up showing the fine detail in the compound eye of a butterfly magnified 5,000 times.

Moth Antenna

Close-up showing the fine detail on a moth's antenna, magnified 900 times.

Photonic Crystals on a Weevil

Photonic crystals on the exoskeleton of a Metapocyrtus species of Weevil.

Fruit Fly Eye

The compound eye of a fruit fly.

This is a small fern called Asplenium trichomanes and is found worldwide in rocky habitats. This specimen was collected in Glencree, Co. Wicklow, Ireland. Ferns do not produce pollen or seeds. Their method of reproduction is by spores producing a different form of adult plant every alternative generation. This image shows the brown sori which contain the spores.

Adhered to a twig, this is a lichen called Physcia adscendens. It has long rhizines or cilia emerging from the margins of its blue/grey coloured thallus. This lichen is widespread around the world and is commonly found growing on twigs and the bark of trees, walls and concrete, often in the company of Xanthoria parietina, an indication of nitrogen rich areas. Its name ‘adscen-dens’ refers to the long rhizines that arise from the underside and curl upwards. The grey colour is due to the pigment atranorin. On close inspection, colonies of cyanobacteria (green) can be seen on the thallus surface.

The underside of an Ivy leaf covered with stomata (the pores through which the leaf absorb carbon dioxide and water and expel oxygen) and a single trichome (yellow structure).

On the underside of an Asplenium trichomanes leaf we can see the pouches in which the sori emerge from. The sori contain spores and when conditions are ripe, they explode, releasing the spores into the air.

Close up of the trichomes and silica spines on a leaf of the False Nettle.

Pollen grains of Bindweed.

Tiny hairs beneath the flower of Enchanters Nightshade.

A cluster of Dandelion pollen grains adhered to the hairs on the base of the floret.

A lone Dandelion pollen grain adhered to the hairs on the base of the floret. What are the yellow spring like structures?

Dandelion pollen grains adhered to the hairs on the base of the floret.

California Poppy pollen grains in the ridges of a petal.

A cluster of California Poppy pollen grains on the anther.

A lone California Poppy pollen grain adhered to a petal of Poppy flower.

This is a montage of a Geranium robertianum flower, commonly known as Herb Robert. The montage comprises of about 100 individual images, seamlessly blended together.

This is a montage of the central region of aGeranium robertianum flower, commonly known as Herb Robert. The montage comprises of about 50 individual images, seamlessly blended together.

A forest of hairs protrude from the stem of a Forget-Me-Not flower.

The anthers of a Hibiscus flower are covered with spikey pollen grains. Pollen tubes can be seen beginning to emerge from the grains. These pollen are from the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Hibiscus is known colloquially as Chinese hibiscus, China rose, Hawaiian hibiscus, rose mallow and shoeblackplant. It is a species of tropical hibiscus, a flowering plant in the Hibisceae tribe of the family Malvaceae, native to East Asia. Hibiscus is Malaysia's national flower where it's locally known as the Bunga Raya.

The anthers of a Hibiscus flower are covered with spikey pollen grains. Pollen tubes can be seen beginning to emerge from the grains. These pollen are from the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Hibiscus is known colloquially as Chinese hibiscus, China rose, Hawaiian hibiscus, rose mallow and shoeblackplant. It is a species of tropical hibiscus, a flowering plant in the Hibisceae tribe of the family Malvaceae, native to East Asia. Hibiscus is Malaysia's national flower where it's locally known as the Bunga Raya.

Pollen grains resting on the anther of the Lesser-Stitchwort flower.

St. Johnswort pollen grain adhered to the petal.

St. Johnswort pollen grains adhered to the petal.

The rim of the Scarlet Pimpernel petal.

A spikey Yarrow pollen grain rests on the surface of the flowers peduncle.

Pollen grains of the Yarrow flower among the hairs on the flowers peduncle.

A Yarrow pollen grain rests on the surface of the flowers peduncle. Stomata are the pore like structures. The pore of the stoma is surrounded by the guard cells, which deflate/inflate to open or close the stoma, respectively.

Growing like yellow blisters on sea shore rocks, lichens first appeared on Earth about 400 million years ago. The Xanthoria parientina is primarily found on southern facing surfaces such as on walls, rocks, trees and twigs.

Close up view of the Xanthoria parietina thallus and apothecia. The apothecia are the cup like structures and are where the spores emerge from.

Close up view of the Physcia adscendens thallus and cilia.

Close up view of the Xanthoria parietina thallus and apothecia. The apothecia are the cup like structures and are where the spores emerge from.

Xanthoria parietina.

Cross-section of a Xanthoria parietina lichen. A lichen is a symbiotic affair between an algae and a fungus. The organism is comprised of a meshwork of fungal hyphae which transpore nutrients around the complex and provide a protective web for alga cells. The alga cells in turn provide the fungus with food. The algal cells are seen coloured green.

Xanthoria parietina lichen encapsulating a twig. A lichen is a symbiotic affair between a fungus and an alga. Usually found growing on trees, this is a very common lichen in Ireland & Great Britan and is happy to grow on a wide variety of substrates. The orange colour is produced by a substance called parietin. The small orange fruit bodies seen on the lichen are the reproductive cups called apothecia. The orange areas are the tips of the asci or sacs that contain the spores. The yellow/green thallus is an indication that the lichen receives an insufficient amount of sunlight and is sometimes used by hikers to determine the cardinal points.

Xanthoria parietina when on north facing substrates transforms into a green colour due to insufficient sunlight incident on the lichen. As a result the pigment responsible for the yellow colour in the lichen breaks down. This can be useful by hikers for example in finding which direction is roughly north.

Growing like yellow blisters on sea shore rocks, lichens first appeared on Earth about 400 million years ago. The Xanthoria parientina is primarily found on southern facing surfaces such as on walls, rocks, trees and twigs.

Xanthoria candelaria.

Large montage of Xanthoria parietina.

An Xanthoria parietina lichen encapsulates a small twig. The lichen is itself smoothered in cyanobacteria, seen coloured green.