Category: bugs

On Insect Intelligence

People like me who spend a lot of time with insects tend to develop a bond with them. I get very attached to my caterpillars and the bugs in my yard, and watching their behavior sometimes makes you think there’s a brain in there.

And then… they do things like this:

This is a Variegated Fritillary butterfly. This is the first time I’ve ever seen one in my yard (I’m SO CLOSE TO 1,000 SPECIES!!!). She is laying eggs on the passion vine that is sprouting in my garden. I have a couple vines that have started up and are several feet long. Is she laying eggs on that one? No. She’s laying eggs on these. Repeatedly.

The Gulf Fritillary caterpillars I’ve raised can destroy an entire leaf in a few hours. *sigh* 

I guess when ya gotta go, ya gotta go.

She also laid eggs in the passion vine with the fire ant mound around it.

I pulled up this dinky little passion vine sprout and potted it. I’ll at least give these four little caterpillars a chance! Let’s see if I can grow this vine faster than they can eat it!

April 9, 2019

Bugfingers White moth = saltmarsh moth Brown m…

Bugfingers

White moth = saltmarsh moth
Brown moth = walnut sphinx (remember the screaming caterpillar?)
Green stink bug
Brown stink bug

I wanted a moth on every finger, but couldn’t find enough. So I settled for bugs. But the green stinker wouldn’t cooperate, walked over the sphinx’s face, made him pee all over me, then walked over the saltmarsh moth’s face, peed on me himself, then flew off. Rude!

March 25, 2019

A Sweet Story

Once upon a time (November 2017), I came upon a large hive covered in lovely stripey friends, and I took a photo. Unfortunately, I was still new to my camera, and I didn’t realize until I uploaded the photos that my focus depth was off. Oh no!

I uploaded my photos to iNaturalist, identified the friends as honeybees, and went on my way. Except, I was told that this was not a honeybee nest, and the bees had likely made this hive a temporary home while searching for a new one. 

Unsatisfied, I returned the next day, determined to get better photos of the nest. I got them

They weren’t bees temporarily taking up residence in an abandoned paper wasp nest. They were Mexican Honey Wasps, who make a big, elaborate paper nests. And also, honey. Yes, wasps that eat honey. Oh yeah, and they also eat pest insects that damage food crops, and it’s believed that these wasps were responsible for pollinating avocados before honeybees were introduced from Europe.

But anyway, I’m digressing. 

I don’t see these wasps very often. Besides on that nest, I haven’t really seen them elsewhere.

Until earlier this week. Guess who visited my garden?

I have an Elderberry bush baby growing (it’s not even a year old yet). And it would appear that Elderberry plants have nectaries–those little knobby things where the leaves attach to the stem by my fingers are the nectaries. Think of nectaries as little plant nipples that let insects drink nectar direct from the tap. Ants and wasps can’t get enough of them. While I was taking these pictures, I had two other wasp species wandering through this bush for the nectaries!

But that wasp up there?

Going to town on the nectaries here?

Mexican Honey Wasp

I’m going to be so excited if their nest ends up being in my yard! They’d be smart to put one in there! So many bugs for them to eat! So much delicious nectar! 

I love my yard. I’m at 989 species right now. So close to 1,000. 

March 17, 2019

Handmade insect earrings by RubySpotJewelry

Handmade insect earrings by RubySpotJewelry:

nanonaturalist:

Aren’t you tired of waking up every morning, knowing that once again you have to go through another day without insect wings dangling off of your ears? Well guess what?!

One of my insect friends (you know, the one with the inside scoop on the horse graveyard [link]? And the botflies? Oh, I haven’t posted about the botflies have I? He got botflies on purpose. I took photos. That was how I met him) makes earrings from insect wings. He recently set up an etsy account, and has asked for tips on keyword optimization. Pffft. Nah. Let me put these on the tumblrs. I told him to take better pictures, but for now, this is what he has (and he has a LOT more than what he posted, he’s up to his neck in these earrings).

Top Left: Cockroach
Top Right: Dragonfly
Bottom Left: Dragonfly
Bottom Right: Grasshopper

Right now he is looking for feedback on making a better etsy shop and trying to get the word out that his shop exists at all. So, hello bugblr, my friend’s shop exists, look! Anything I should pass along to him to help him out?

March 14, 2019

@glassfullofsass, my friend, share with wild reckless abandon. As I said, he’s up to his neck (or as I should have said, up to his ears in these things). He only posted four.

Some other fun facts: 

He’s the dude who made this display at Texas Memorial Museum when he was the entomology curator:

My photograph does absolutely no justice to this thing, the display is at least 4 ft tall, the Luna moths and Cecropia moth are dwarfed by the Blue Morpho, most those insects are several inches long (not to mention wide).

And when we went to dig up the horse bones, we did some “redneck sweep-netting” first (for earring purposes), which involves one person hanging out of the car window with the sweep net (trying to not get caught in the prickly pears), while the other person drives probably faster than advisable around an overgrown dirt/gravel road. After a lap, stop the car, get out, check the nets for goodies, check the grasshoppers for their wings, wait, let @nanonaturalist take their pictures first 

Two-striped Mermiria [link]

Aztec Grasshopper [link]

Also, he had a live scorpion in his pocket at a Taylor Swift concert (he’s a big fan).

Fun times! 

March 15, 2019

Regular

jjongs-tae-and-biscuits submitted:

Heyo! I know you’re not in Australia, but there was a whole group of caterpillars (I guess?) by the edge of a path on a nature walk today. They moved as a group, and had little pointed butts that they tapped on the ground when my partner and I got close to them. I tried identifying them, but with no luck, so I wanted to see if you knew them? Thanks in advance, regardless!

image
image

LOOK AT THESE CUTE LITTLE BABIES!!! You are right to be a little suspicious of these guys. There aren’t any clear shots of their little suction cup prolegs because they are all in a huge pile together (when they’re in groups like this, they’re called “gregarious”). If you did pick one out and take a good look at it, you would likely be a little more suspicious.

Here is what you would see for a typical caterpillar:

This is a Gulf Fritillary caterpillar, just after molting. I numbered the prolegs. There is a little variation, like with inchworms (who only have two!), but for the mostpart, the most you will see is 5 (the exceptions are the slugmoth caterpillars, but you will never confuse them with these next guys).

Here’s what you would see if you pulled out one of your little friends there:

Here’s a freshly molted baby! Hmmmmmm.

Here’s another baby! Wait a minute…

Your friends are not baby moths or butterflies, they are the babies of:

A sawfly! Related to Bees, Wasps, and Ants!

Of course, I only have photos of the Texan ones, and I honestly haven’t seen too many species (these are not easy to find here!). But oh boy, the Australian sawflies are beautiful! 

Your sawfly larvae are in the genus Perga. Here is what the adults look like (2 cm long and beautiful):

Image from iNaturalist, copyright Felix Fleck [link]

How did I figure this out? I googled “Australian caterpillars,” and landed on this page: The Identification of Caterpillars of Australia [link]. Large caterpillars are noteworthy, especially gregarious ones. But they’re not on the main page. The long legs (actually legs, up front) made me suspicious as well, so I clicked over to their sawfly page [link], and there they were! I looked them up on iNaturalist, and we were in business.

Thanks for asking, that was fun! I didn’t realize sawflies got so big (but of course they do!)

March 14, 2019

Buy a Coffee for NanoNaturalist

Buy a Coffee for NanoNaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

Alright, enough about boning moths for a second, cuz I’m unemployed now and I have a situation. I need a particular software package which costs an amount of money which is generally unwise for newly unemployed people to be spending on … anything. But it’s gotta happen for a presentation in about a week, and it’s gotta happen if I want to keep posting here as I have in the past–if you like essentially any post I’ve made that has photos in it, chances are you have enjoyed my having access to this particular software as much as I have.

I have a ko-fi account. I have not “advertised” it much because that’s just not my style and I generally assume that y’all are just as broke as I am. And I’m not desperate yet, but I have been Unemployed in bold with a capital U before and I know with certainty that I cannot survive 9 months without a job this time around. Because I’ve mapped out my budget for the next 9 months and it’s grim. There is nothing I can do that I haven’t already done in terms of job hunting. 

So what I ask: 

  • If you have enjoyed caterpillar butts and moth indecency and rants about bizarre things that you wouldn’t think humans would have opinions about, and if you have $3 to spare, please considering contributing to the cause of ensuring I can continue to raise caterpillars to take pictures of/post their butts and then perv on them doing it while taking very strong stances on what species of bird the bird seed companies put on their packaging (HOUSE SPARROWS?!?!?!!?!!?!?). 
  • If you have enjoyed all these things but do not have the $3 to spare, then please tell the next bug you see that they are beautiful/they are so fat/”What a handsome man!” 
  • If you think I’m stupid and my blog sucks (*gasp!*), then this is me mooning you:

March 1, 2019

Y’all

I love you

As a token of my appreciation, please accept my full-grown adult Giant Leopard Moth 😀

I raised the caterpillars inside for a couple molts, but I just could’t take care of them over the winter (their food dried out too fast and the trees were dropping leaves), so I did the mature thing and let them go. They did their winter diapause, I saw caterpillars again early February or so, and this moth must have JUST emerged a couple nights ago when I found him because he peed all over me (visible in photo).

Thank you so much!!!

🐍💙🐌🖤🦆❤️🐛

Also some good news: got some job search tips from a guy I connected with on LinkedIn (the trick when you get into higher level positions: just start emailing people at companies you want to work at directly), and a recruiter trying to fill a project position with the power company contacted me directly (also via LinkedIn) and asked me to apply for it. Thanks to some resume feedback I got (also from a new connection on LinkedIn—I gotta say, writing a snarky comment to a trending news post at 4 am was a good move!), the resume I submit for that opening will kick some serious 9th abdominal segments. Here’s to hoping!

March 1, 2019

Buy a Coffee for NanoNaturalist

Buy a Coffee for NanoNaturalist:

Alright, enough about boning moths for a second, cuz I’m unemployed now and I have a situation. I need a particular software package which costs an amount of money which is generally unwise for newly unemployed people to be spending on … anything. But it’s gotta happen for a presentation in about a week, and it’s gotta happen if I want to keep posting here as I have in the past–if you like essentially any post I’ve made that has photos in it, chances are you have enjoyed my having access to this particular software as much as I have.

I have a ko-fi account. I have not “advertised” it much because that’s just not my style and I generally assume that y’all are just as broke as I am. And I’m not desperate yet, but I have been Unemployed in bold with a capital U before and I know with certainty that I cannot survive 9 months without a job this time around. Because I’ve mapped out my budget for the next 9 months and it’s grim. There is nothing I can do that I haven’t already done in terms of job hunting. 

So what I ask: 

  • If you have enjoyed caterpillar butts and moth indecency and rants about bizarre things that you wouldn’t think humans would have opinions about, and if you have $3 to spare, please considering contributing to the cause of ensuring I can continue to raise caterpillars to take pictures of/post their butts and then perv on them doing it while taking very strong stances on what species of bird the bird seed companies put on their packaging (HOUSE SPARROWS?!?!?!!?!!?!?). 
  • If you have enjoyed all these things but do not have the $3 to spare, then please tell the next bug you see that they are beautiful/they are so fat/”What a handsome man!” 
  • If you think I’m stupid and my blog sucks (*gasp!*), then this is me mooning you:

March 1, 2019

gothwasps: Bug Emojis – Part 1 ! I’m uploading…

gothwasps:

Bug Emojis – Part 1 !

I’m uploading these 9 because they’re already done, I’ve got quite a few others though that I’ll be uploading (I still have like 5 left to finish though).

In order, Beetle, Dragonfly, Firefly, Housefly, Mantis, Moth, Slug, Wasp, Weevil !

[Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3]

!!!!!

thelepidopteragirl: the-awkward-turt: myfrogc…

thelepidopteragirl:

the-awkward-turt:

myfrogcroaked:

zoologicallyobsessed:

Tommy McElrath‏ @monotomidae

The giant bee wasn’t “lost to science”. No one got grants to go study or monitor their populations for >20 years because no one would find it. That’s the real story here. We are constantly undervaluing and underobserving basic natural history about small creatures like bees.

In the light of everyone reblogging about the rediscovery of the Wallace’s Giant Bee (Megachile pluto) no one is acknowledging (besides us zoologists) the fact that this has already happened with this bee. It was thought lost since 1859 until it was rediscovered in 1981 and now 2019. This is because of lack of funding going towards conversing and discovering insects like this bee! 

This is the important missing part of the story!!!!!

I face the same challenge in my work to study and protect frogs.

http://www.frogrescue.com/

If you search a list of “critically endangered invertebrates” at least a third of them are listed as “possibly extinct”.

POSSIBLY. Because no one has the funding to even got and check if they still exist. That’s where we are at with invert conservation.

this is why i hate pandas

Hell, this is where we’re at WITH BIRDS.

I have some tiny bug friends on iNat who have been valiantly going through all the unidentified tiny bug photos and trying to identify them (and I mean, true valor). One of them will comment on some random photo of a thing I snapped with my phone in my yard two years ago before I knew what I was doing “Oh hey THIS IS A RARE BLAH DE BLAH” and I’m just like, oh yeah I just randomly found it in my yard I probably have hundreds of those.

Sometimes, I will find a bug, identify the bug, upload the bug to iNat, and iNat will helpfully tell me, OH YEAH THIS IS CRITICALLY ENDANGERED IN TEXAS. Like, one of the spittlebugs I find sometimes in the fields might go extinct because THE FIELDS KEEP GETTING DESTROYED.

Another aspect of this story that isn’t getting told: a lot of the natural sciences are no longer even teaching natural history and organisms the way they used to. Taxonomy is all about genetics these days. Museums are switching over to hiring… people who can’t identify specimens without running PCR??? Like, they cannot look at an animal and tell you what it is unless they analyze cellular tissue. So universities aren’t teaching the “old way” anymore? So, nobody tries to get grants and study ecology because all people care about is genetics and blah blah who cares??? 

Both are important, but the funding institutions clearly do not agree. And the way science is funded these days, people HAVE to go for what they know will get them money to do the work they know is important. Just add a little bit of genetics to get some money to do the ecology work, right? But over twenty, thirty years… ecology work doesn’t get funding anymore. 

Anyway, don’t listen to me, I picked engineering and I still can’t find a job. I’ll just be muttering to myself in this ditch over here collecting microscopic hemiptera and getting gnats in my eyes.

February 23, 2019

Regular

normal-horoscopes:

amygdalan-arm:

amygdalan-arm:

Seeing moss in any context fills me with a deep, primal sense of love and contentment.

Love is stored in the moss

Just try to look at these images and tell me everything isn’t gonna be okay

IT CONTINUES TO BE TIME FOR MOSS

pssssst: that’s where you can find tardigrades!!! If you have access to a microscope (doesn’t have to be a strong one, one that clips onto your phone works), you could find tardigrades in moss! Even if it’s dry, they can go dormant for a long time, just rehydrate your moss samples and check!

February 19, 2019