Cornelia Hesse-Honegger, Harlequin Bug, 1992


Harlequin Bug, 1992
Pentatomidae, Murgantia histrionica,
Digital print from original watercolour
48 x 37 cm


Cornelia Hesse-Honegger

Harlequin Bug, 1992
Pentatomidae, Murgantia histrionica,
Digital print from original watercolour
48 x 37 cm

Cornelia collected this Harlequin Bug near the nuclear power plant Three Mile Island called Governor’s Stable, USA. It is showing considerable damage from nuclear fallout. As a consequence, the left feeler has only four sections, they are disturbed and have new sizes. Furthermore, the shield is bent, and the yellow form is asymmetrical

The Three Mile Island accident resulted in a partial meltdown of reactor number 2 of Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station (TMI-2) in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, near Harrisburg. There was a subsequent radiation leak on March 28, 1979. It was the most significant accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant history. On the seven-point International Nuclear Event Scale, the incident was rated a five as an “accident with wider consequences”.

I collected 180 degrees around the nuclear power plant in 1991. Along the Susquehanna River it was difficult because on the northern side was a steel Corporation and an international airport. On the southern side was a US Military Airport and a nature reserve. I collected on 14 sites. The worst was in the east where I found the Harlequin bug and in Goldsboro just opposite the plant in the west-north-west. As 12 years had passed between the accident and my research, I was not sure what to find. The results were shocking as one of the plants was still working. I cannot say whether the amount of malformation was due to the accident and its cleanup or the normal working nuclear power plant.

About the artist

Cornelia Hesse Honegger, an exhibitor in Bugs Beauty and Danger works at the interface between art and science. Her work testifies to the beauties of an increasingly endangered nature. Describing herself as a ‘science artist,’ Cornelia worked for 25 years, as a scientific illustrator for the scientific department of the Natural History Museum at the University of Zurich. From 1969 onwards, she collected and painted true bugs Heteroptera.

She has conducted pioneering research about the effects of nuclear fallout on true bugs (Heteroptera)

Cornelia has collected, studied and painted morphologically disturbed insects, mostly true bugs, since the catastrophe of Chernobyl in 1986 . She found them in the fallout areas of Chernobyl as well as in the proximity of many other nuclear installations. She proved convincingly that the radioactive fallout from Chernobyl, or normal working nuclear power plants contaminates vegetation where it hits ground. Also, insects like true bugs become to a certain extent morphologically disturbed.

Her field studies have taken place mostly in Switzerland, but also in many other locations including Sellafield in the UK. Based on these, she concludes that normal working nuclear power plants and nuclear installations are a terrible threat to nature and cause deformities on true bugs, Heteroptera. As a result of this long-term research, she and independent scientists can prove that even the lowest amount of radiation can cause cancer, illnesses, mutations and deformations. She has consequently published many studies highlighting this issue. She also exhibits her watercolours and prints internationally at museums and galleries

Additional information

Weight 1.0 kg
Dimensions 48 × 37 cm

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