WIPs and bee IDs

From Zookeys

From Zookeys

WIP stands for “wing interference pattern” and it refers to the shiny patterns of light refracted from the wings of insects (for example, little parasitoid wasps).  These patterns are ubiquitous and there is some excitement in the notion that they might eventually be usable for identification purposes.


Part of Figure 1 from Shevtsova et al 2010 (which has lovely figures if you have access to the journal)

If so, there could be huge benefits.  For example, you could identify damaged specimens with only the wings intact, or you could identify wings that had become removed from specimens.  At the very least, it could provide confirmation of an identification.

Anyway, WIPs are very interesting to look at as well, so I thought I would share some.  These are all photos borrowed from the USGS flickr feed, by Sam Droege.

photo by Sam Droege

photo by Sam Droege

WIP3WIP4If you have some pinned specimens, try and look for WIPs…according to Sam Droege, “Best viewing if WIPs is to have the light source from above and a black background behind.


4 thoughts on “WIPs and bee IDs

  1. Very interesting. I know a lot work is being done on identification by the venation pattern but the interference pattern is another way. I am surprised it still holds for dead specimens.

    • I wonder if it fades with time? Nothing was mentioned about the age of the specimens. But it is impossible (or very difficult) to get a good look at them while the bees are alive. You really need that black background.

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