My giant stick insect (Megaphasma denticrus) eggs are hatching. Currently six are dooting around their enclosure. Their host plant (hackberry) has not grown leaves yet—not sure if the babies are early or if they start out eating something else.
I sent some eggs to various Phasmid enthusiasts in the US and Europe, and they are all hatching right now (interesting!). They have been feeding their babies rose and Pyracantha, so I went to the garden center to buy an emergency shrubbery. But they are NOT eating it??? But they are also still alive? I have no idea.
Watch an io moth caterpillar make a poop the size of its head. Phrase of the day: Prehensile Jelly Anus
Caterpillar duties have reached critical mass. I spend at least 6 hours EVERY NIGHT on feeding caterpillars, cleaning caterpillar tanks, hanging/cataloguing chrysalises and cocoons, and writing observations in my notebook. This means if I go to bed before 2 am, I had a good night. These 6 hours every night are only 6 and not 7/8/9+ because I slack off on weeknights and spend 12+ hours on Saturdays catching up. Oh yes, and I have to get out of bed at 6:30 am for my actual job that I actually get paid to do.
Consequently, I have no time to do anything besides caterpillars. I try to keep my instagram [link] active so I can still share bugs I’m excited about, but let’s be honest, I’m mostly just posting caterpillars.
The unicorns are in cocoons, I have 7 io moth cocoons (out of 30 caterpillars total), and 11 question mark chrysalises (out of 13). I have released 9 tawny emperor butterflies, I have somewhere around 10 chrysalises hanging, and only 130 to go -_-
Most of my time is spent feeding/tending to the ios. I guess you don’t grow to be almost 3 inches long in a month by just sitting around. You cannot imagine how much poop they make. If I could sell it I’d be rich.
June 21, 2017
More people need to see this video of a caterpillar pooping. Only 5 notes? A travesty.
Longer story later, but I spent my Valentine’s day doing emergency shrubbery shopping/performing a C-section (???) on a stick insect egg because this early baby got stuck. After an hour of painstaking insect surgery, I freed ALL the baby’s legs/antennae with NO INJURIES!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY CURLY GRANDCHILD 😭 I LOVE YOU
I’ve noticed that people on tumblr are becoming more and more aware of artists’ rights and do their best to credit illustrators.
I’ve seen lots of educational posts especially involving plants and animals that feature uncredited photographs. Gotta admit those posts are very entertaining and informative, but please remember that bugs don’t take pics of themselves. Nature photographers spend a lot of time and money to buy the right gears and reach places many of us can’t.
Not to mention that providing a link to the source also helps your audience understand the context better. It convinces people you’re not making things up. It gives your own post a credibility boost.
My point is…
Please, credit photographers the same way you would credit illustrators. If you benefit from other people’s photographs, it shouldn’t be on your followers to do a reverse search.
^ this is important
If a person makes a living as a photographer, they are surviving by selling licenses. If you post somebody’s photo without credit, you could be directly affecting their livelihood.
Every photo I post in this blog is mine. I only reblog to this account when I have something to add (information or a related/interesting photo that I personally took).
I don’t watermark my photos because I take tens of thousands of photos a year, and I post many of them on iNaturalist so they can become part of the scientific record. If I watermarked photos, posting them would become so tedious that I would eventually take and post fewer photos. That is not what I want. I want to keep taking as many photos of the weirdest things I can find, so I can share them with y’all and others like you.
I make no money from my photos. As much time as I spend doing all this documentation and processing, I do it in my free time because I love it, I love the connections I make with other people, and I love knowing that I play a small part in getting people more interested in the natural world.
All I ask: don’t steal my photos. Reblog by all means, but don’t remove my text (that information is context! That’s the whole reason I post here!), and don’t post my photos without crediting me and/or linking to here or my iNat account (or wherever). All my photos are licensed as creative commons with attribution on iNat. I want them shared! But I also want people to be able to ask me questions about my photos, so I can answer them, and that’s not possible if they are shared without crediting me.
I love animals that are, like, the opposite of cryptids: we know for a fact they exist and have a clear idea of what they look like because we have photographs and individual specimens, but we haven’t the faintest idea where they’re coming from – they just keep showing up out of nowhere, and the locations of their actual population centres are a complete mystery.
I so want examples. anyone who knows of any should post them in notes
You know, like giant squid and such. We know the bastards exist, we have credible first-hand accounts stretching back thousands of years and dead specimens washed up on shore and such, but in centuries of searching we’ve managed exactly one well-documented encounter with a giant squid in its natural habitat. We have no idea what their native range is or what their life-cycle looks like, let alone how many of them are out there.
Are there any reverse-cryptids that /aren’t/ at the bottom of the ocean?
The red-crested tree rat, for one. There have been only three well-documented encounters since 1898, and they just plain disappeared from the zoological record for over a century. The only reason we know they’re not extinct is that one walked right up to a couple of wildlife research interns at a Columbian nature reserve back in 2011, apparently out of pure curiosity, and allowed itself to be photographed and observed for several minutes before disappearing again.
That’s genuinely pretty cool and all, but I absolutely need to talk about how the picture in that Wikipedia article looks like a tiny eldritch horror disguising itself as a peach.
To be fair, based on the actual photos from the 2011 encounter, they really do look like that:
Another example almost everybody has seen but has no idea:
Galls are weird tumor-like growths on plants (leaves, stems, branches, buds, etc) which are caused by developing arthropods. The mother will lay eggs in the plant tissue however suits her, and enzymes from her? The egg? ?? will reprogram the plant’s tissues to create an incubation chamber for the developing creature. They are SUPER common. Thousands and thousands of species. Galls can be formed by mites (arachnids), or insects, like wasps, midges (flies), or hoppers (homoptera).
Here’s the thing: very few of these can be identified to species because *nobody has named them yet*, which means they haven’t been “discovered” yet. Last year, I found these weird pink ones. When I finally managed to ID them, I learned they had been “discovered” only a couple years earlier.
In my yard, on one tree alone, I have seen and documented no fewer than 10 distinct species. But if I want to know what the adults look like, I’ll have to collect them myself.
For many galls, even if they are a named species, even if the adults have been identified, we know NOTHING about their life cycles. Some have two alternating life cycles: one generation grows in galls, then their babies… grow up… somewhere else???
All links in my post go to my observation pages on iNaturalist. I have many more galls that I didn’t put up here because… there are just so many once you can recognize them that you can’t possibly comprehend it.
My coworkers bring me gifts; every bug they find in the hall ends up in a little cup on my desk. Today’s friend is a little caterpillar.
What would a caterpillar be doing in a building? Well, before they pupate, many moth caterpillars go through a wandering phase, where they leave their host plant (where a smart predator could easily find them), and wander around until they find a spot where they think, “Yes. This is it. My destiny.” Then they start chewing stuff up, spinning a cocoon (if they like), maybe burying themselves underground, then pupate.
I gave this baby a little piece of napkin, and they immediately started chewing it up to make silk to spin a cocoon. Cocoon spinning has been happening all day and we are making great progress!
February 6, 2018
Update! We’re working on the other end now!
Baby’s under the blankie!
More news on Cocoon Watch 2018. Baby has separated the layers of napkin and is spinning a cocoon INSIDE. I’m so proud 😭 Look at that cute little butt peeking out.
It’s almost time to go home, thinking I’ll bring the baby with me to make sure they stay safe.
We named the baby “Slina Serviette,” which roughly translates to “‘Kin Napkin” or “Nap Napkin” in a mashup of European languages, and we have designated the common name of this species as “Napkin Weaver.”
Cocoon Watch 2018 update: Baby Slina is chewing up the bottom layer of napkin so we can watch them pupate. So considerate 😭
Day 2: Baby Slina is SO TIRED and ready to pupate!
Day 3: BABY SLINA PUPATED!!!
The pupa will harden and turn dark in a few hours. Stay tuned!
As promised, darker and darker! I noticed Baby Slina got stuck on the plastic of the cup right after pupating, so I gently moved them onto a napkin. Their wing looks like it got a little damaged, but I think it will be okay.
These two photos are several hours apart. Baby is still wiggly!
Day 4: Baby Slina, darker and wigglier. Some moth pupae stay pretty active, and Slina appears to be one of them!