Hug a Bug

Entomology grad puts the ‘art’ in arthropod


During her undergraduate years, Linden Pederson (BSES – Entomology, ’19) was dedicated to helping others appreciate the beauty of insects. She spent hours drawing insects or introducing the public to live insects as part of the University of Georgia Bug Dawgs Insect Zoo, but her senior project dwarfs those efforts. 

In fact, it’s huge. 

As her final project Pederson, who graduated from UGA in May with degrees in both entomology and scientific illustration, built a 25x scale model of a female Megalodacne heros beetle. She spent more than 300 hours digitally sculpting each detail of Megalodacne heros in ZBrush 3D modeling software using specimens from the Georgia Museum of Natural History and printing pieces of her beetle on a 3D printer.

It then took Pederson an additional 40 hours to assemble, paint and add the finishing touches to the model, which Pederson named “Athena.” 

“Linden was so observant in her studies of actual specimens that her beetle model includes minute details like individual secretory pores and patches of tiny setae (hairs) on particular segments of the mouthparts,” said Joe McHugh, curator of arthropods at the Georgia Museum of Natural History. “Linden’s beetle is so good, it could be correctly identified to species and sex from halfway down the hallway.”

For those who want to test their insect ID skills, the model is now on display in a case outside of the entomology department’s administrative offices in the Biological Sciences Building on UGA’s Athens campus. 

Pederson spent her post-graduation summer in an internship at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C., and is now pursuing her master’s degree in medical illustration at Augusta University in Augusta, Georgia.

By Merritt Melancon


Linden Pedersen