Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Micro-moths and USB microscopes

Some of you may have noticed that there is now a wide selection of USB microscopes available. A quick search on Amazon, for example, will display a large number ranging from about £20 up to well over £100.
I thought I would try out one of the cheaper models to see if it could be a useful additional tool for helping to identify some of the smaller micro-moths. As well as displaying an enlarged live image on your computer screen, the microscope also has the ability to instantly capture the image - which is saved as a jpeg file.
Obviously, you are reliant on your chosen moth staying still under the microscope while you look at it. If it is a lively individual, you are back to keeping it in a pot and examining it with a hand lens.

My chosen microscope (the Maozua 5MP model listed as a best seller on Amazon) arrived a few days ago, and today I had an Epiphyas postvittana that seemed willing to sit quietly while I studied it. I have posted a couple of the resultant photos below - one image of the whole moth, and one showing detail from the head. I don't think they are too bad for a first attempt.

As the moth season progresses, I will report back on whether I think the USB microscope has been of benefit in helping with micro-moth identification, and hopefully post a few more pictures.

Steve Trigg, Cookham


  1. Your next step will be focus stacking. Take a look at Helicon Focus, which I use

  2. I suspect many of us will be very interested to hear how you get on with it, Steve. One drawback that strikes me with this particular model seems to be that you are limited to overhead views unless using it hand-held.

  3. Steve, I'd be interested to know how large a moth you can fit underneath the USB scope - does it zoom out far enough to allow photography of macro-moth species? Obviously a normal camera can usually be used for macro-moths, but I'm interested in using a USB device to project images of insects via a digital projector.

    I tried out one of the dino-lite models some years ago and it only allowed very high magnification of very tiny insects, would be great to find one that could show all of a Large Yellow Underwing!

  4. very interesting post for me. I hadn't come accross either product before. Question for Peter, are you using Helicon Focus Pro or Lite?

  5. If not Helicon Focus, then try 'Zerene Stacker', which I find very good. But for 'stitching' images together I use Adobe Photoshop Elements (a rather out-of date version).


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