Monday, 28 February 2011


I have been working on this illustration for a while, but I still don't feel it is finished...
She is Elus, a character from a story I am writing (The Black Harok) but I have only written a short part of it so far, I just find it easier to really imagine the characters if I draw them out whilst going along....
29.5 X 16.5cm

anyway, I might try a coloured version of the same image, probably just adding colour to a scan of the drawing.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Insects of the Fairground

Over the years I have kept a wide variety of Insect and other invertebrates as pets, mainly to watch them develop at each life stage, and to really get a chance to see them at work close up, which is very helpful when it comes to producing artwork related to them. I also keep some species to breed individuals which I keep as specimens once they die.
The first exotic insects I kept were Indian stick insects, and I have a feeling they were part of the reason my insect obsession started in the first place....

After that I kept Locusts and Hissing Cockroaches, along side a few UK species which I kept in tanks in the garden and bred. Since then I have mainly kept species which are a lot larger, here is a selection:

Eurycantha calcarata - the Giant Spiny Stick insect, this one is a female, and the first one of my batch to mature. They have a temper to match their appearance!

Female Griffin Mantis, the first Mantis I reared, was great to watch her stalk and catch prey...

Anthia sexguttata - African predator beetle. These beetles are great to keep, they live well together (I had 3) and they have big appetites to fill. The only downside is a defensive acid spray which I experienced first hand.

Extatosoma tiaratum - Australian prickly stick insect. These are a nice easy species to keep, and grow quite large, this image shows a female during a moult, shedding her skin, as all stick insects do when they need to grow.

Chelorrhina polyphemus - African flower beetles. (Female and Male) I received these beetles when they were larvae, they fed on rotten wood substrate for a few months before pupating and turning into these beasts.

 Giant African Millipede. - not an insect, but an amazing creature and very long lived for an arthropod, sometimes living over 20 years. This female is around 9" long.

 Platymeris biguttata - The White Spot Assassin Bug - these are fairly small, but make up for it with evil methods of injecting their victims with enzymes to dissolve the insides, which they suck out with delight.

Heteropteryx dilatata -Malaysian  Jungle Nymph. A very large and bulky species of stick insect, The females (shown here) can reach around 7" in length and weigh up to 75g. The males are slender and shorter, mainly brown and have large pink wings. The individual in this photo is now over 2 years old!

Male Atlas beetle - a large impressive species of Rhino beetle, this one seemed to love banana. Like most beetles they are surprisingly strong for their size...

There are quite a few more things that I have kept, so stay tuned...

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Insect Taxidermy

I have countless insect specimens pinned or set in frames for display, but a while ago I decided to have a go at creating an Insect version of the traditional taxidermy set-ups, which usually display birds on a branch, or in flight etc.
The display is around 14" high, and has many small beetles, but the large showy ones are a male and female pair of Goliathus orientalis preussi (An African flower beetle) and a male Atlas beetle, probably Chalcosoma atlas.

Live Insects

As well as collecting dead insect specimens, I am fascinated by the lives of insects from their feeding habits and life cycles to the way they move and communicate.
Here are a few photos I have taken in the past of Insects of the British Isles:
(all photos taken on the Isle of Wight)

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Insect T-shirts

A while ago I made myself a T shirt with an Asilus crabroniformis Robber-fly on the front, which was an experiment really as I had never used Textile markers before. It came out well and a few fellow Insect fans have commissioned similar T shirts since.

Asilus T shirt:

Stag Beetle (Lucanus cervus) T shirt commissioned by an Entomologist in California: