UV Fluorescence in Millipedes and Scorpions

14 April 2012
Up til this shoot, I had always assumed that scorpions were the only creatures that fluoresced under Ultra Violet (UV) light. While testing my new uber powerful UV torch in the night, I noticed a millipede that could glow under UV as well, with the strongest fluorescence from the legs.

Update 20 Nov 2013: My UV photos were recently published on WIRED, with more details on this phenomenon: The Secret World of Fluorescent Arthropods.

Millipede (Diplopoda) - DSC_6185#1 With a normal torch, it looked like any other millipede and we would have given it a miss

Millipede (Diplopoda) exhibiting UltraViolet Fluorescence - DSC_6194#2 With a UV torch… voila!

Millipede (Diplopoda) exhibiting UltraViolet Fluorescence - DSC_6213#3 The legs and antennae were particularly bright

Millipede under ultraviolet - DSC_6279#4 Had a lot of shots, but mostly blur as it was moving non-stop

Scorpion devouring House Centipede - DSC_2212#5 An example where the scorpion glows under UV light, but the prey (a house centipede) does not

Scorpion (Liocheles australasiae?) - DSC_6033#6 A different scorpion with a bright glow (Hemiscorpiidae?)

Scorpion (Lychas scutilus?) - DSC_8982#7 The babies of scorpions do not glow as much under UV light. Probably only having low amounts of beta-carboline on their exo-skeleton.

Scorpions (Lychas scutilus?) - DSC_8314#8 Having a UV torch really makes it easier to find these beauties!

More information posted in an earlier post regarding UV fluorescence: Why do Scorpions Glow Under UV light?

Fishing Spider (Dolomedes sp.) - DSC_6150#9 In this trip, we actually went straight to the fishing spiders

Fishing Spider (Dolomedes sp.) - DSC_6158#10 trying to highlight the tension on the water surface

Fishing Spider (Dolomedes sp.) - DSC_6161#11 The flash needs to be tilted at certain angles to get the full reflection off the water surface

Caterpillar - DSC_6184#12 Unidentified caterpillar with back lighting to highlight the hair

Spotted Tree Frog (Nyctixalus pictus) - DSC_6287#13 Nyctixalus pictus – Melvyn was super happy to find this!! A usual resident of Durian Loop but first time seeing it here.

Spotted Tree Frog (Nyctixalus pictus) - DSC_6293#14 Quietly resting at the edge of the boardwalk. Some cyclists went past and it simply remained motionless.

Spotted Tree Frog (Nyctixalus pictus) - DSC_6297#15 We got it to move to safety, and it seemed like a nicer position to shoot. lol

Spotted Tree Frog (Nyctixalus pictus) - DSC_6300#16 No nice compositions, need to learn from frog king mel

Spotted Tree Frog (Nyctixalus pictus) - DSC_6301#17 How it looked when Melvyn was shooting from the other side

Spotted Tree Frog (Nyctixalus pictus) - DSC_6304#18 Huggy

Spotted Tree Frog (Nyctixalus pictus) - DSC_6311#19 The Peekaboo

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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