Advanced Imaging


Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: July 8th, 2008 05:26 PM CDT

Imaging to Identify Harmful Insect Species

Klaus Bolte
Labidomera clivicollis (Kirby)
Balcha indica (Mani & Kaul)
Tsetse fly head (Diptera)

Canadian Forest Service
Media Cybernetics (Silver Spring, Md.)
JENOPTIK Laser, Optik, Systeme GmbH (Jena, Germany)

The Challenge

Klaus Bolte, the senior research technician with the Canadian Forest Service's Biological Resources division, uses magnified insect images to identify potentially harmful species. Due to shallow depths of field of images magnified under a microscope, it is impossible to capture an entirely focused image in one frame. Image sets, consisting of photographs taken at various focal planes down the z-axis, must be montaged together to produce one focused image. This is virtually impossible to do manually, as a user cannot visually segment the parts of each individual plane.

The Solution

Software from Media Cybernetics allows Bolte to automate the acquisition of highly magnified images with high resolution digital cameras viewed through stereo microscopes, while also controlling motorized z-steppers. Media Cybernetics' Image-Pro Plus software allows image sets of dozens of frames to be taken automatically, by controlling the ProgRes C14 camera and z-motor stepping functions.

High-resolution, focused images of the following insects have been produced:

  • Balcha indica (Mani & Kaul), a 7mm long wasp, has been found to be parasitic on the Emerald Ash Borer. It was accidentally introduced to North America from Asia before the arrival of the economically important Emerald Ash Borer, also from Asia.
  • Labidomera clivicollis (Kirby), a 10mm long Milkweed Leaf Beetle, is native to Eastern and Central North America feeding on species of Milkweed.
  • Tsetse fly head (Diptera), a 2mm long (excluding the proboscis) head of a fly found on the African continent. It is responsible for the spread of the deadly sleeping sickness (trypanosomiasis) in people and nagana in cattle.

The Tools Used

  • MC Image-Pro Plus Image Analysis Software
  • MC Scope-Pro-Image-Pro Microscope and Stage Automation Module
  • JENOPTIK ProgRes C14 camera

The Difference it Made

These high resolution, focused insect images are used to support entomological research in the systematic study of various insect groups. Through research publications and posters they reveal important microscopic structural characteristics which are species specific. These images allow for faster and more accurate identifications of potentially harmful insects and help in early warning systems of infestations. They are also used in information sessions, teaching aids, bio-diversity seminars and bio-control seminars.

This automated image acquisition system allows Bolte to devote less time to obtaining interpretable images and more time to identifying and researching insects.

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