Category: life cycle

mei-unicornio:

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

nanonaturalist:

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.

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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]):

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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

mossworm:

Antlion larvae are well-known predators that inspire countless movie / video game monsters but then their adult form is just a damselfly with anxiety

This is funny cuz it’s true

VICIOUS HUNTER!

JAWS OF TERROR!

pppbbbbtttttttttt

bbbbttttthhhhhhhhhhbbppppttttttt

although, to be fair…

BUTT SCOOT OF … uh… um… 

funny thing about the ferocious larvae, they can only move backwards. And in little short scoots. The second you dig them out of their little funnel, they freak out and just want to bury themselves, They are only powerful when they remain unseen.

Poetic?

Note: very few species actually make the funnels! But the ones that make the funnels, OH BOY DO THEY MAKE FUNNELS!

July 11, 2019

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@hunteno64​ submitted:

So I just got out of an interview, and I see this QT. Any idea and what they are?

Why yes, I do. Looks like your bab was fixing to molt, so he appears a little unusual, but still easily identifiable. This was actually one I learned when I was a little kid, and was quite pleased with knowing as the smart-ass 7-year-old I was back in the day, although I didn’t know there was more than one species of these then

Here’s a sibling of your friend from my yard. Look at those cute little legs! His face is that TINY little thing at the very end at the front. He is a larva. When he pupates, he will look like this:

You can see his old baby clothes around the base of his pupa where it connects to the grass. And when he emerges as an adult, you will probably recognize him!

Your friend is specifically an Asian Lady Beetle, Harmonia axyridis. These can look quite variable, especially depending on where you live (in Texas, there are some that are BLACK with RED SPOTS, or GRAY with BLACK spots!). Most places, they are red or orange with black spots… or with no spots at all! In MOST places, the easiest way to identify them is by looking at their pronotum–the shield that covers their thorax. In the red varieties, it will be white with a black “W.” The other species of lady beetles (and there are SO MANY OF THEM!!!” will have different patterns there, and typically have a specific pattern of spots!

After this photo, though? You get these:

They have fun eggs! If you see a ton of lady beetles, it means there are lots of tasty aphids (and other plant-parasitic insects) around. And that usually means there is a lack of biodiversity somewhere, which allows the plant parasites to flourish. I get a huge swarm of lady beetles whenever the invasive grasses pop up in my yard. But that also meant plenty of opportunities to watch their larvae grow up and emerge from their pupae!

Thanks for asking!

July 8, 2019

bogleech:

bogleech:

Hey everybody I don’t know why I left this out of my barnacle article despite knowing about this for years but this is what scientists only know as a “Y-cyprid” and it is identical to the “cyprid larvae” unique to barnacles and it is found all over the world in seawater but we call it only a Y-cyprid because we have no idea what this particular larva matures into.

One time some scientists thought they’d be clever and use a crustacean molting hormone to make some Y-cyprids mature in the lab. If they were like most of their relatives, they would have anchored themselves down and become juvenile barnacles.

Instead, they matured into what seems more like another larval stage, with a soft, sluglike body, which wandered around doing nothing and died.

Whatever they are, the “slug” stage needs unknown conditions to continue growing and it’s highly likely that they are parasites of some other animal but we don’t know what.

dreg-heap

I take it barnacles mature too slowly for us to just. Follow them with a camera drone?

Well, it’s like, these are nearly microscopic, so the question would be how do we follow that around? I don’t think we have the technology yet. And if they’re parasites, that means there’s probably ONE animal species in the whole entire ocean, like one specific species of one group of crabs or eels or jellyfish, that they mature into once they come into contact with them. It’s a needle in a haystack! For all we know, they might even descend down to the abyss as they mature and molt down there on something! Maybe they only infect something in undersea caves! Maybe they’re even hyperparasites, only infecting a single kind of parasite on a single kind of host!

It’s a needle in a haystack but the haystack is the size of half the planet and there’s a million different, wrong needles mixed in there!!

It is very possible that this mystery could outlive humankind….but someone could solve it by sheer accident any day now! There’s no telling! These are getting more and more exciting every second I dwell on them!!

Some species of mussel larvae are parasitic on fish gills. Who knows where the barnacles go!

June 30, 2019

Fire ants using my doorway as a nursery? Must be summer!

That pile of white stuff they’re swarming around are their pupae. The reddish concrete floor is my living room. The leftover blue painter’s tape is how I kept them out the last time they did this. I vacuumed all this up. Sorry ladies, this is war (again).

I hope they don’t start nesting in my (upstairs) bedroom walls again. I really didn’t like having to search the carpet for ants after getting stung in the middle of the night.

June 29, 2019

nanonaturalist:

A big, fat Tawny Emperor (Asterocampa clyton) lady came out of her chrysalis today, but we had a storm in Austin and I didn’t want to release her in the rain! So I gave her some plum, over-ripe banana, and a paper towel soaked in hummingbird nectar (4 parts water, 1 part sugar). She went for the nectar and the banana when I watched her!

Had to take photos through the sides of the enclosure she’s sharing with a Gulf Fritillary and Question Mark, both also came out today. I wasn’t able to photograph them, though! These look like I’m a sneaky butterfly paparazzi, huh?

For the Asterocampa butterflies, the females are larger, have a fatter abdomen, and the bottom wing (called the hindwing) is rounded out. In the males, the hindwing is more triangular, the outer edge is straight, not circular.

June 27, 2019

About to release, Question Mark nomming banana

June 28, 2019

A big, fat Tawny Emperor (Asterocampa clyton) lady came out of her chrysalis today, but we had a storm in Austin and I didn’t want to release her in the rain! So I gave her some plum, over-ripe banana, and a paper towel soaked in hummingbird nectar (4 parts water, 1 part sugar). She went for the nectar and the banana when I watched her!

Had to take photos through the sides of the enclosure she’s sharing with a Gulf Fritillary and Question Mark, both also came out today. I wasn’t able to photograph them, though! These look like I’m a sneaky butterfly paparazzi, huh?

For the Asterocampa butterflies, the females are larger, have a fatter abdomen, and the bottom wing (called the hindwing) is rounded out. In the males, the hindwing is more triangular, the outer edge is straight, not circular.

June 27, 2019

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

I had an “assignment” from an entomologist at the California Department of Agriculture to rear a particular species of slug moth (Euclea incisa, not present in California so he can’t do it himself) and document variations in caterpillars from different broods. No problem! I said.

He probably didn’t expect embryonic development updates.

The eggs of this species are completely transparent and flat, so checking in was easy and SO COOL.

Anyways these babes are one of the stinging slug caterpillars, and they don’t have prolegs (?!), check out that last gif. Mom of these ones is in the last photo. They are super tiny, microscope shots are magnified 50x.

Said Californian entomologist is a Good Dude and offered to help me write up the paper without author credit on the babes. I can’t get an entomology job without an entomology degree, but I wonder how many single-author papers I can publish to substitute for one (probably none lol).

May 17, 2019

Spiny slug baby updates

The purpose of this “experiment” is to see if there are differences in how the caterpillars look between different batches of eggs, but I’m going to go insane keeping track of that here AND on iNat, so here are a bunch of unlabeled random slug babies! Microscope shots are all magnified 20x in this batch.

Arranged from youngest to oldest. They get spinier and stingier as they grow!

Jellypillar!!!!

Look! You can see them without the microscope now!!! And I am totally raising them in a parmesan container, they are too small to keep in anything else.

At their largest, they are about the size of a jelly bean. A… spiny jelly bean. Do not eat.

May 18, 2018

Spiny Slug Jellypillar Update

He monch

Wheeeeeee!

Save me

It’s warm enough in my house that I am constantly fighting against mold in their little containers, but if they are molting I can’t move them off a moldy leaf. It’s a situation. I upgraded the big batch of them to a salad bin (formerly in a parmesan container). The rest of the babies are in sauce cups.

Wecome to my salad bar!

May 26, 2019

The worst salad? Or…

the best salad?

They’re so cute save me how are there so many where did they come from

This isn’t even all of them

June 10, 2019

Some updates!

COCOONS EVERYWHERE

also

@thedaeyoung holy carp yes they do

Last night I was up too late doing emergency caterpillar feeding. I need to switch their enclosure over but I don’t have a clean one and I can’t eat the salad I bought fast enough to move them into that container, and there’s a lot of mold growing at the bottom of this one. I was worried about cocoons getting moldy, feeding leaves to caterpillars, and I accidentally bumped a baby with my finger.

OUCH!

The sting was worse than an io moth caterpillar sting! It wasn’t a very hard bump though, I’m sure a proper sting would be much more painful. Very impressive!

June 18, 2019

nanonaturalist:

caterpillar-gifs:

Euclea incisa slug moth caterpillars

Top gif: heartbeat in a caterpillar visible before molting
Other gifs: restless caterpillar seeks out a pupation spot (his heartbeat was also visible, though harder to see in the gifs)

They grow so fast!

June 16, 2019

PS

Here is the cocoon of our restless fellow (and his final poops):

Also, he monch (look at his little bum in the lower right corner!).

The slug moths hide their faces so they will hold their leaves with opposable face flaps that look like giant lips. It’s like if you wore a hoodie laced mostly shut and ate by putting food into the narrow opening of the hood.

June 16, 2019