A Bug’s Eye View

Photogrammetric image of a browntail moth by UMaine Phd student Devin Rowe 2023
Devin Rowe 2023Rowe studies browntail moth (pictured) populations in Maine

Devin Rowe, PhD student in Ecology and Environmental Sciences, shared the results of his recent insect photogrammetry project, for which he built an insect scanning structure at the IMRC Center.

“My brother-in-law gifted me a 3D printer. Being an entomologist, I started browsing for insect-related 3D prints and I found the scAnt 3D Insect Scanner created by UK researchers Fabian Plum and David Labonte (Evolutionary Biomechanics Lab, Imperial College London). ScAnt takes thousands of images of an insect. Those images then get processed and run through a 3D reconstruction program that takes those processed 2D images and turns them into a 3D object.

You can take that 3D object and process it further for animation, 3D printing, or to make it look nicer (like texturing a fuzzy bee, or fixing insect wings, as 3D reconstruction has issues with thin surfaces).

Entomology is a big piece of my life, and photogrammetry, the art and science of turning 2D images to 3D, is a fascinating field. Digitizing insects is a new way to document them, and it can help the general public–from having a full view of insects that cause us trouble (like browntail moth), or to just admire what an insect looks like.

When I was figuring out the schematics, I realized that the project needed laser cut acrylic sheets [to make the base and gimbal arc of the support structure]. I did the 3D printing at home, but I don’t have the budget or space to get a dedicated cutter-that is a crucial job for the IMRC. Also, I like to walk around campus, and the IMRC halls have a great vibe where art and science merge. The IMRC does that well.”


Bee specimen prepared for imaging using photogrammetry process, provided by Devin Rowe, UMaine PhD, 2023
Devin Rowe 2023The structure in use to capture imagery of a bee specimen
Photogrammetric image of a bee by UMaine PhD student Devin Rowe 2023
Devin Rowe 2023This type of image capture process creates a highly-detailed record of a specimen (like this bee) for closer study