Chennai teen’s photograph featured on iNaturalist

The beady-eyed treehopper sat motionless for almost five minutes unaware that a 16-year-old had his camera focussed on it. Adit Jeyan clicked away, capturing an image that went on to be featured in Observation Of The Week category of popular citizen science project iNaturalist. A joint initiative of the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society, the portal helps people identify plants and animals and gets submissions from around the world. Adit’s photo of the Eggplant horned treehopper is incidentally the first to be featured from India under the category.

“I shot the photo near Broken Bridge in Besant Nagar in late August this year,” says Adit. The spot, that’s a grass and shrub haven, is Adit’s go-to place to take photos of insects.

Chennai teen’s photograph featured on iNaturalist

“My father and I head there every Sunday at 6.30 am with my camera,” he adds. Adit, who lives in Adyar, had been photographing birds for one-and-a-half years. He’s photographed several birds in the city, his favourite being the purple sunbird. The class XII student was gradually drawn to insect photography as well. “My father happened to be on leave for a month and during the period, we spent a lot of time looking at insects and photographing them.”

He remembers how lucky he was that morning to have spotted that gorgeous treehopper by the beach. “It was 1 cm long and that was the second time I saw one,” he says. The tiny insect looks rather unusual, and can be mistaken for a thorn. Adit is fascinated by insects. “They’re colourful and there’s so much diversity to them,” he feels. Among his favourite subjects are spiders. “They have interesting patterns on their body, not to mention the eye arrangement.”

Adit hopes to become an environmentalist one day. “A lot of wildlife on our planet has become extinct over the past few years owing to destruction of habitat. I want to do something about it by specialising in wildlife conservation,” he says.

Know your insect
  • The Eggplant horned treehopper is also known as ‘cow bug’ owing to the horn-like structure that protrudes from it. Kids, especially little boys in villages, love to play with it since they find it a fun exercise to see it leap at the flick of a finger. The insect shares a symbiotic relationship with ants. Plant sap is an important food source for the latter, which, they are unable to digest directly. These treehoppers do this for them, and exude the digested sap in the form of a simple sugary substance called honeydew. As a result, ants can usually be found near these insects, feeding. Ants in turn protect them from predators and sometimes, microscopic young ones of the treehoppers will even be watched over by ant ‘guardians’. Source: Naturalist ‘Poochi’ Venkat

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2021 1:15:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/the-boy-who-met-a-treehopper/article29431055.ece

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