Bugs with Transparent or Translucent Bodies

24 September 2011
Once in a while, we come across bugs which allow light to pass through their bodies. Some are naturally translucent, while some appear to have a bubble of air trapped in their bodies, making them appear transparent in those parts.

The following information and some of the IDs have been kindly contributed by David Court.

I had wondered why certain bugs had air bubbles in their bodies. They were significantly large with respect to their bodies and did not appear to be of any use to them, unlike what nature usually did. Some possible theories…

1) Molting fault
When separating the new exoskeleton from the old, some bugs might need to expand their bodies to push out of their old exoskeleton. In doing so, some might pump up an air bubble in their bodies. Perhaps after doing so, these bugs failed to release the trapped air and lived on with the anomaly?

2) Infection
Maybe an infection by bacteria, fungus or worms?

3) Parasites
Perhaps some parasitic wasps had inserted eggs into the bug’s body

This night at Mandai Track 15. I found a Golden comb-footed spider with a see-through abdomen – quite a sight!

Golden Comb-footed Spider (Chrysso sp.) - DSC_4124#1 A huge air bubble resides in the abdomen of the female Golden comb-footed spider (Chrysso sp)

Golden Comb-footed Spider (Chrysso sp.) - DSC_4140#2 When the flash was too harsh, the bubble was not as visible. This spider has distinct red-coloured joints at its legs

Golden Comb-footed Spider (Chrysso sp.) - DSC_4134#3 Trying to see through with a back-light

Golden Comb-footed Spider (Chrysso sp.) - DSC_4115#4 A glimpse at it’s face

Golden Comb-footed Spider (Chrysso sp.) - DSC_4116#5 View of the underside

And now for the other finds of the night… 🙂

Fungi - DSC_4000#6 A cluster of mushrooms on a tree trunk

Grasshoppers (Caelifera) - DSC_4001#7 A pair of mating grasshoppers

Grasshoppers (Caelifera) - DSC_4006#8 They didn’t seem to like my presence and disconnected 🙁

Harvestman (Opiliones) - DSC_4011#9 Several of these Harvestmen (Opiliones) running amok on the dead leaf litter

Harvestman (Opiliones) - DSC_4013#10 Back view. We can see the extended forelegs that act as feelers and curved endings.

Planthopper nymph (Fulgoromorpha) - DSC_4021#11 Planthopper with a “fibre optic” tail

Planthopper nymph (Fulgoromorpha) - DSC_4026#12 It was moving non-stop, managed to capture it when it was turning around

Planthopper nymph (Fulgoromorpha) - DSC_4031#13 A back-lit view of it’s tail

Dragonfly (Anisoptera) - DSC_4075#14 Close-up of a sleeping dragonfly littered with dew

Dragonfly (Anisoptera) - DSC_4088#15 Top view

Lynx Spider (Oxyopidae) - DSC_4156#16 David found this female Lynx Spider (Hamadruas sp), which we called the Jungle Lynx (not official name of course).

Lynx Spider (Oxyopidae) - DSC_4168#17 It jumped off when Ben was shooting it, and it took me quite a long while to find it again! This time, it wasn’t as tame and walked around the leaf.

Lynx Spider (Oxyopidae) - DSC_4169#18 Preparing to jump off!

Ant (Formicidae) - DSC_4178#19 Big ant small ant

Net-casting Spider (Deinopis sp.) - DSC_4189#20 Female Ogre-Faced Spider (Deinopis sp)

Net-Casting Spider (Deinopidae) - DSC_6127#21 Male Ogre-Faced Spider (Deinopis sp)

DSC_4215#22 Coliadinae. Don’t have full shot of the wings to confirm the exact ID.

The complete album can be viewed here.



Hi my name is Nicky Bay. I am a macro photographer, instructor and book author, travelling the world to document the vast micro biodiversity that nature has to offer. Follow my updates and discover with me the incredible beauty and science behind our planet's micro creatures!

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