the first two i have no
clue at all what they are. the third is definitely a moth, i think a sun moth
of some kind. the final thing is genus toxomerus, species unidentifiable –
literally, no one can ID a good portion of floridian toxomerus species.
First one—maybe a whitefly???? (I commented on your inat obs)
Second one: mayfly for sure (I do not claim to know mayflies)
Third one, yes, sun moth. I think you have Aetole bella. I’ve seen Aetole tripunctella.
Number four… I’ll tag the fly person. But it might not be Toxomerus. There are way more hover flies than you may think! I gave up on them until I have the time to really focus on them.
So I dida postabout these a while back, but here’s the main thing that I think is of major interest!
These nudibranchs attach themselves to a species of jellyfish in their larval stage, feeding on the bell, eventually outgrowing the jellyfish, consuming the tentacles of the host and then swimming away to carry on its life.
So not only are they free swimming, fish-like slugs, they’re parasitoids as well!
You might have noticed that the number observations from Taiwan have been growing quite a bit (see chart below), showing off the incredible biodiversity of the island and its surroundings. Much of this growth has has been spurred by a community of both researchers and citizen scientists, one of whom is Cheng-Tao Lin (@mutolisp), the current top observer in Taiwan and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Resources at National Chiayi University. Prof. Lin has graciously translated the responses from this week’s observer, so I want to thank him and Shu-Chen for collaborating on this.
huang_shu_chen (whom I’ll refer to as Shu-Chen), is a diving volunteer for the National Museum of Marine Science and Technology in Keelung, Taiwan, and says “My partner and I (see below) do routine underwater work about coral reef restoration, patrol and investigation, and assist in recording species to create a marine diversity checklist. In addition to these routine tasks, I will also take photos of these beautiful marine creatures.”
The beautiful Violet Sea Apple you see above was taken by Shu-Chen during her first dive using an underwater camera with a flash, and she tells me
it is also the first time I saw such a fascinating and gorgeous sea cucumber, just the same as its name, “red apple”. It’s a pity that I did not meet its “flowering” state (when it stretches tentacles to catch plankton). If I had a chance to see its flower, I will upload it to iNat again!
As Shu-Chen says, these creatures are sea cucumbers, although we use a different vegetative term to describe them (apple) due to their more round shape than your standard sea cucumber. The “flowering” behavior she describes is how the creature catches plankton, by extending its frilly tentacles into the water. And like many other sea cucumbers, violet sea apples can expel parts of their sticky innards into the water when threatened, allowing a predator to concentrate on its entrails rather than the rest of its body. If that doesn’t work, they also have two tricks up their sleeves: they can release a toxin known as holothurin (a type of saponin) into the water, and they can also ingest water, allowing them to double in size and use currents and gravity to sweep them to a new home.
Shu-Chen (above) has recently joined iNaturalist, and says
my photos of nature were just silently stored in my own computer disks in the past, but since I learned about iNaturalist platform, and that observation data uploaded to iNaturalist would become part of GBIF data, I’m so glad that they could be used and studied by other people around the world…I also use iNaturalist to create species checklist at the place where I care and concern. It is really convenient to have iNaturalist to record nature observations, and it motivates me to collect more data.
These are great drawings of the different types of spider webs! I’ve been lucky enough to see lots of exciting webs when I’ve been out running around outside. Here are some real life examples of the webs described above
Some orb webs are your standard issue circles on spokes designs. Above left: spinybacked orbweaver in the process of making her web. Above right: Orchard orbweaver hanging out in the center of her web.
Some orb weavers like to add a little spice to their webs. These are examples of circular stabilimentum. The stabilimentum can be large or small! Above left: featherlegged orbweaver Above right: lined orbweaver.
Probably the most noted examples of stabilimentum are made by garden spiders in the Argiope genus. Both photos above are of the yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia). Left: adult with the typical zig-zag pattern. Right: juvenile with the semi-circular/linear combo pattern.
And before you start thinking that all orbweavers make flat webs, let me introduce you to the basilica orbweaver, who makes my absolute favorite web ever. It’s so complex, it’s hard to even photograph it in a way that does it justice. The “orb” part of the web is a cross-hatched dome, which occupies the center of a hour-glass shaped cobweb-like tangle. When the female lays an egg, she will suspend it from a “tightrope” line that goes across the hourglass, above the top of the web dome. The eggs are placed on this line above the peak of the dome. When Hurricane Harvey came through last year, it destroyed this beautiful web 🙁 BUT that little tightrope with the egg? It’s still there over a year later. Spider silk is STRONG!
So beautiful! I don’t know if I’ve ever actually seen the spider who makes these, so I don’t really have much else to contribute. These are beautiful works of art.
It can be pretty hard to photograph cobwebs, because they are so “messy.” Lots of very interesting spiders make cobwebs. You are familiar with the widow spiders, but there are lots of other great cobweb spiders, too! Some of my favorites are the kleptoparasites (top left is a Neospintharus sp.). These tiny spiders will hang out in the webs of other spiders, and steal the smaller bugs that end up caught in the web. I found them in the basilica orbweaver web, and in the black window web I had. I don’t have IDs for the other two spiders (center and right).
I don’t have an ID for this web either, but sheet webs are made by spiders in the same superfamily as wolf spiders. The wolf spiders I’ve typically seen are happy enough running around, except, this one:
This is a wolf spider, in a tunnel web. I suppose you could argue that a tunnel is just a sheet web rolled up. When I touched the web on the edge of the tunnel, the spider would pop out like this until she caught on that we weren’t food.
You may be thinking, wait, isn’t that a trapdoor spider? Nope! She’s a wolf spider, for sure. Her eye pattern matches wolf spiders. And trapdoor spiders aren’t even in the same suborder as wolf spiders and other “true spiders.” Trapdoor spiders are in the suborder Mygalomorphae. Which brings me to…
Not Really Webs but Still Neat and Worth Mentioning
All the other webs in this post were photographed in Texas. This is the exception. I found this empty trapdoor-lair outside my cabin in Liwonde National Park in Malawi. Other spiders in this suborder include tarantulas–which I have seen in Texas. We do have trapdoor spiders here, but I’ve never been lucky enough to see one.
Also not a “web” but I love these. This is a longlegged sac spider (genus Cheiracanthium). I have seen them sew together long blades of grass to make a little home. They will also make dense mats of silk (sacs, I suppose) to nestle into nooks and crannies, like the lid of one of my caterpillar enclosures. So cute!
A record-breaking, 10-inch-long whopper of a bullfrog tadpole was discovered by a crew of ecologists in a pond in Arizona.
The biggest tadpole ever found—at a whopping 10 inches long—was discovered
by a crew of ecologists in a pond in the Chiricahua Mountains of Arizona. Alina Downer, an intern at the American Museum of Natural
History’s Southwestern Research Station, came across the monster
bullfrog tadpole as her crew was draining a manmade pond as part of a
habitat restoration project for the endangered Chiricahua leopard frog.
As the water level lowered, Downer
and her colleagues were assessing what organisms were left in the muddy
shallows that she likened to “chocolate soup.” Downer says, “I was
fishing around with my hands while walking in the water, and I felt
something large, smooth, and wriggly—which was unexpected, since the
only other fish in the pond were about an inch long.”
an avid naturalist, Downer’s first instinct was curiosity. “At first I
thought it was a giant catfish,” she says, grinning at the uncanny
memory. “Whatever it was, I knew I had to grab it.” She herded the slippery creature into shallower water until she could capture it. To her surprise, it turned out to be “an enormous monster of a tadpole”—so
big she had to hold it with two hands…
Happy Belated 14th Buggiversary to BotD! To celebrate, I’ll be spending tonight making up for the multiple missed posts this week :-). To start, here’s a nice Serene Underwing, Catocala serena. Never got a shot of the cool orange underwings, but I did get a neat shot of it sitting on the steel cage that holds the light.
My Gift To You:
This Ilia Underwing (Catocala ilia)
and this Catocala agrippina
posted August 16, 2018 (photos from this past May & June)