Category: finger for scale

Live from my bedroom window: Obscure Bird Grasshopper 👌
Check out those pecs 😍

September 6, 2019


Cute! #butterfly #plants #nature #mariposa #lepidóptera

This looks like the same Gulf Fritillary butterflies we get up in North America! They range down into South America, too!

The caterpillars eat leaves from the passionvine. There are lots of varieties of this plant. Here are two in Texas:

Yellow Passionflower

Passiflora “incense” – I grow this vine in my garden and it takes over the entire back yard! The flowers are huge (see the spider in the right of the photo?) and hummingbirds will even come to feed at them.

August 15, 2019





Jewel beetle Julodimorpha saundersii by

Jean and Fred

Endemic to Western Australia

this is the type of beetle that won’t stop trying to fuck beer bottles

The addition I didn’t know I needed.

I wonder if it’s because the shiny bronze-orange hue of the beer bottles makes them think it’s a lady beetle?

it’s the combination of colour, and the dimpled texture. The breweries were asked to stop using dimpled bottles, and the problem was much reduced.

Nature is beautiful

August 13, 2019






Bagworm Moth caterpillars collect little twigs and cut them off to construct elaborate tiny log houses to live in (photos: Melvyn Yeo, Nick Bay)

I had to look this up because i thought there was no way these little faerie cabin-building caterpillars were real

Theyre magical

I love every single species of bagworm. They are all wonderful. Yes, even the ones everyone hates as tree-killing pests here in the U.S. Here are some cool bagworm things:

  • In many species, the female never develops wings or in some cases never even develops legs, antennae or a face. She’s just a sausage-shaped egg factory who dies in her bag.
  • Two very different species are among the world’s few carnivorous caterpillars. One preys on snails and uses its bag to wedge into the snail’s shell. The other builds its bag OUT of body parts from the arthropods it eats and the smell attracts even more tasty things.
  • Some species not only have females that remain as “bagworms” but have parthenogenetic subspecies with no males at all; entire populations of caterpillars with no moths.

Do they build them first, and then crawl into them?

Do they have freakishly long arms that extend out from the bottom, allowing them to stack ever-higher?

Or perhaps they build them for each other?

Do they ever tweak the architecture, or rebuild from scratch?

They wrap themselves up in silk, just like when other caterpillars would make a cocoon later. Then as they go along feeding, they attach bits of their leftover food, leaves, twigs etc. to the silk bag. They can reach their whole body out of it when they need to stick something on!

As they molt and grow, they keep adding more to the bag around its open end, so the very tip of the bag is what they started with when they were tiny!

Here’s one where you can obviously see the difference between the “newer additions” to the bag (green leaves), and the more established parts (dried up leaves):

Unfortunately, all the bagworms I collected in my yard ended up being parasitized by braconids! Seems the bag doesn’t protect them so much after all!

July 23, 2019


I DISCOVERED HOW FLOWER CRAB SPIDERS BUILD NESTS FOR THEIR BABIES. Flower crab spiders are already super neat because they change color back and forth between white and yellow (to match their current flower) and camouflage to ambush their prey. I saw this one on a leaf but she disappeared underneath before I could get a good photo. Of course I turn the leaf over. SHE WASN’T THERE??? Except, she WAS. She had sewed a leaf shut and built a nest in it. I could see her sitting by her eggs. Oh man. Highlight of the night!

April 7, 2017

An example of how just being out and observing the world can be more valuable than sitting around in classrooms or reading books about things. You don’t need to take classes or have access to information to learn! 

The color-changing abilities of crab spiders may be limited to a specific species (maybe?), the Goldenrod Flower Crab Spider, and nobody has any idea why they do it [link] because it doesn’t help them catch prey, it doesn’t actually match the flower they are on, and it doesn’t prevent them from being predated by birds. They are just fashionable!

Reposted July 15, 2019


Every time I mow the lawn I end up bothering somebody.

White-lined sphinx moth. They feed on nectar through a long proboscis while flying and hover in place like hummingbirds.

March 13, 2017. Been spring here for months already.

This was one of my first sphinx moths! And definitely not the last thing I scared out of the yard while mowing. In fact, while mowing recently, I scared up this poor baby:


Gulf Coast Toad. I had to chase the poor thing into the neighbor’s driveway to be able to relocate him somewhere more comfortable (a nice shaded area under my flower bushes with lots of leaves hiding tasty bugs to eat).

Reposted July 14, 2019


I was finally able to ID some of my mystery observations on iNat! I always love finding “evidence” like this but having absolutely no idea what they are. I had guessed that the top one (bright lime green) was an insect cocoon, and the bottom one (white cottony fluffy mass attached to a stalk of grass) was a collection of eggs.

The top photo was taken at Southeast Metropolitan Park outside of Austin in late January. iNaturalist Observation [link] is here. Turns out all I had to do was google “texas lime green cocoon” and viola! These are spinybacked orbweaver eggs! Spinybacked orbweavers are one of my favorite Texas spiders–they are so much fun to watch and I find them everywhere. Below are just a few of the ones I have seen recently–each photo is a unique individual.


The bottom two photos were taken in my backyard, also in late January. iNaturalist observation [link] is here. This one really had me stumped. I have seen several of these but just couldn’t figure out what they were. Nobody on iNat offered suggestions. I noticed the first ones towards the end of summer/early fall, and I assumed that they were likely eggs or a cocoon from one of the common insects/spider I find in my yard. I looked up what the eggs/cocoons for various species looked like, but nothing was even close. I had pretty much given up. 

Then last night, I was at the bookstore trying to find some African bird books for my November trip to Malawi and had no luck, so I consoled myself by leafing through the Texas Nature books to see if any were worth buying. I found one that was about Texas Bugs, and was an interesting guide of the most common arthropods you find here. Lo and behold, in the braconid wasp section, there was a photo that looked EXACTLY like this. 

In case you are not familiar, braconid wasps are the parasitic wasps that grow on caterpillars. You may be familiar with the Microgastrinae that have individual pupas hanging off caterpillars (photo taken at a bioblitz in east Texas in May 2015, observation posted here [link]):


It seems that other species in this family make super fluffy pupae–so fluffy that you can’t see the poor caterpillar underneath them. I had considered dissecting one of these fluffy masses, but decided against it for some reason. Now I really wish I had! If I’d seen a caterpillar in there, I would have known it was braconid wasps!

Another fun post to come across! I posted this in March 2017. I did eventually come across some more of those super fluffy cocoon piles, but the host was always long gone by the time I had found it. Braconids do not exclusively prey on caterpillars! I have seen some that will make their cocoons away from what they had presumably used as a host, so it seems there is no “right” way to be a parasitic wasp! 

I like this post because it shows where my learning curve really started to take off. Spring 2017 was the point in time when I started to CONSUME entomology content like it was malt vinegar and sea salt potato chips (and I have a bit of an addiction…). I also like that it shows that sometimes you learn through intelligence (my google abilities), and sometimes you learn just by pure luck (flipping through a book at a bookstore). And really, you need both!

Reposted July 14, 2019


Frogs at Lockhart State Park, Feb 25, 2017, Lockhart TX

Two green tree frogs and a northern cricket frog

Look at these fine boys. ID Update: That’s a Blanchard’s Cricket Frog!

Reposted July 12, 2019


The two cats I adopted in December have TAPEWORMS. I’ve dealt with this before—when cats get fleas, they are at risk for coming down with a flea tapeworm (Dipylidium caninum) infestation. There are two ways you typically notice it: the first is finding little yellow sesame-seed-looking things on furniture the cats lounge around on, and the second is seeing gross white squishy things coming out of your cat’s butt. These are proglottids, which are egg-filled segments the tapeworm sheds to spread the infection. The cats have since been treated, hopefully the tapeworms are completely gone now.

Of course I brought them to work and put them in the SEM. Interestingly, the shells of the proglottids have a mosaic-crystalline structure, and the eggs look like pollen. The bottom two photos show the proglottids in a light microscope and unmagnified.

Repost from ~Feb 2017. I still think these proglottids were one of the more interesting things I looked at in the SEM! I need to go through all the images I took before I left my job. I swear I’ll get around to them eventually :X

Reposted July 12, 2019

Great blog. Can I get a gift too?






j/k thnx ilu2 <3

July 9, 2019