Category: science

Regular

six-legs-and-more:

the-study-of-arachnology-comic:

six-legs-and-more:

nanonaturalist:

six-legs-and-more:

six-legs-and-more:

entomologyfrassposting:

six-legs-and-more:

six-legs-and-more:

I just found what I think is a dying great diving beetle in the middle of campus for some reason so I brought it back to my dorm and stuck it in my freezer

I’m gonna try to pin it but I have never pinned an insect before so this is not going to be pretty 

but I gotta learn somehow 

Yeah broke sound about right I just tore apart an old slipper for the foam sole

This is gonna be great

Pinning is the best! Here’s the best spot to pin a beetle in just in case you didn’t know. A little tip I wish I knew when doing beetles, especially large ones, be careful where you pin in relation to the oegs because you could accidentally take a leg off when the pin goes through

Thank you so much you all are saving my life. As a little update the beetle, besides a bit of guts coming out from the bottom of it, was in pretty good condition: wings and legs and head nicely intact. I put it in a cutout bottom of a plastic cup legs down but now the beetle is frozen to the bottom of the cup by its guts. Marvel at my professional 12am handiwork. I should have froze it upside down. Ahh the things we learn through trial and error.

I’ll have a look. I can already hear the distant screams of those who have done this for years as I eventually subject them to watching me destroy this poor bug.

This site (Purdue Entomology [link]) has some great info and tips for pinning and displaying all sorts of insects (use the table of contents over to the left of the page to navigate). When you start pinning with labels, there is a special pinning block with various heights that allows you to have the labels all exactly the right distance apart so you can read all the info from the drawer.

April 8, 2019

You know I’ve been joking around a lot but I really do mean it when I say that the bug side of tumblr is my favorite part of tumblr. Everyone has been so helpful, maybe it won’t turn out as bad as I think. Thank you!!!

Now im kinda curious…. could you pin a weevil or are thwy simply too small?

According to that site @nanonaturalist gave above, you can pin small insects, but you have to attach them to a card and then pin the card

ANOTHER ALTERNATIVE! You can buy those empty pill capsules, put your small insect in them, and then pin through the capsule. Bioquip sells the caps [link], but you can also buy them from the pharmacy for pretty cheap. 

I use them to store my tiny caterpillar head capsules (when I don’t have them just laying around in a jar lid somewhere ugh).

If you use these things, make sure YOU DON’T GET THEM WET!!!!!! (they dissolve!!)

April 18, 2019

mikelikesscience: Computer Science Is A Lot!I…

mikelikesscience:

Computer Science Is A Lot!

In case you didn’t know, I went back to college for a Master’s in Computer Science. My original degree is Fine Arts. 

But before I can start the Master’s Program, I have to do a bunch of Math and Computer Science Undergrad courses. Calculus, Data Structures, Object Oriented Programming, and so on.

How hard could it be? I’ve made so many Science Raps and watched so many Education Channels–it should be a piece of Cake!

OMG. I was so wrong! Studying Computer Science is so difficult! For me it was not Cake. It was more like Brussels Sprouts.

And just like my experience with vegetables, the discipline for Computer Science is an acquired taste. I had to dedicate a lot of time to studying and doing homework. I got help from tutors, mentors, peers, and professors. I had to make a lot of mistakes in order to succeed.

Now I’m about ¾ of the way done with the Undergrad requirements. I’ll be starting the Master’s Program in the fall!

So if you were wondering what the context and inspiration for my latest video was–now you know!

Hi Mike! I was in your shoes, too! I had a BA in Psychology, but it was really hard to keep finding contracts at Microsoft during the recession (I graduated in 2005) when I was competing with people who had computer science degrees and way more experience.

So I went back for a BS in engineering (I studied chemical) and eventually continued on to a masters in biomedical engineering. But that first term back in school, I had to retake Calculus I, since the last time I took it had been 10 years ago—it had been so long since I had taken a math class that I had to relearn algebra at the same time!

This stuff is HARD, and it’s important for people considering STEM majors to know that if they are struggling, it’s not just them! So thank you for posting this! Before I graduated, one of my undergraduate professors would half jokingly introduce me as the best student in the department, and I often felt like a total idiot in some of my classes.

It’s rare for scientists and engineers to also be effective science communicators, so I’m looking forward to seeing what direction you take as your education progresses!

April 14, 2019

“Give Her A Boop” Sphodromantis ga…

“Give Her A Boop” Sphodromantis gastrica (African mantis) adult female in dark morph. She has a sweeter disposition than the others.
#sphrodromatisgastrica #sphrodromantis #africanmantis #prayingmantis #mantodea #mantis #nature #wildlife #animals #insect #science #entomology #exotic #pets #aliens #photography #mantismonarch #boopable
https://www.instagram.com/p/BwPaPoFn3W1/?utm_source=ig_tumblr_share&igshid=gio1x6b210e9

I,,, misread nepenthens for isoetes on the las…

I,,, misread nepenthens for isoetes on the last post somehow and i felt,,,, f,,,fear,,,,

fun fact there’s literally no books out there showcasing all the species of isoetes in the world like u might find for other plants. if u want to know that information u gotta go digging through 89 levels of deep academia and only then may you possibly stumble upon a hit list of names. 

when i was researching for my term paper on them last semester i tried to build a distribution map of all the species, but the only book i could find was a weird old cloth-bound codex (literally a codex) that i had to specially request from my uni’s library storage building. after i got it i realized that 1. it…really was just deadass a list of names and ranges, 2. it was nowhere close to the exact ranges and just gave vague outdated country information with weirdly ambiguous sources, and 3. it was nowhere close to all the species known to us. the actual age of the book was hard to pin down; i want to say that it was 1970s, but it felt…….older somehow. it had quite The Energy and i quickly returned it 

im sure that if u were to dig through some databases, you’d be able to find a more comprehensive list– i accidentally stumbled on a comprehensive checklist of all the hornworts in the world published by phytokeys, for instance, and hornworts are kind of in the same category of ‘weird niche nonvascular plants one might glimpse for 3 seconds while hiking like bigfoot amongst the trees’– but man, why cant we just have a nice comprehensive coffee table isoetes book? 

this is off topic now but i keep reading these researchers in both isoetes and hornwort papers talking about how one of the biggest challenges to new research is that nobody knows jack shit about them, and i cant help but think like….comprehensive, readable knowledge of these plants is near impossible to find? like, most of the modern papers i was reading for isoetes kept shying away from discussing the fucked up anatomy of those plants to the point where the only book i was able to find that laid it all out for the reader in a semi-understandable format was a book from the late 1960s buried in the fern section of our library? all the illustrations in it were hand drawn? i still havent been able to find a good photo of some of these structures? i got a couple high resolution scans of some of the samples from my uni’s herbarium to publish on this blog, and had people literally come thank me because pics of specimens cut open to show the actual anatomy are hard as shit to find? like? 

this turned into a little bit of a rant but come on lads!!! to get to know these plants u gotta go through like 93 levels of academia and know like 6 people!!! it’s no wonder why nobody knows them well!!! 

Regular

thatsogerman:

Since I’m not seeing her name nearly enough on the press, let’s give the attention Katie Bouman deserves. Thanks to her, we are now possible to see the first ever image of a black hole, something that people talked 200 years ago for the first time. It’s no longer a myth.
We are girls and we can be whatever we want to be. Einstein would be proud of you, Katie. Thank you!

Here you can see a huge stack of hard drives she used for Messier 87’s black hole image data.

Since I was under a rock mowing the lawn today, and maybe you were you did too:

New York Times: Darkness Visible, Finally: Astronomers Capture First Ever Image of a Black Hole [link]

Time Magazine: Meet Katie Bouman, One Woman Who Helped Make the World’s First Image of a Black Hole [link]

Some choice nuggets from the above article:

Bouman didn’t know the first thing about black holes when she joined the team six years ago. Her background was in computer science and electrical engineering, and she got involved in the project while pursuing a PhD in computer vision.

I bolded two important parts: when she joined this team, she was a 23-year-old grad student who knew diddly-squat about black holes.

Bouman says that most of the time she’s not focused on the fact that she’s in a field where women are the minority. “But I do sometimes think about it. How do we get more women involved?” she says. “One key is showing that when you go into fields like computer science and engineering, it’s not just sitting in a lab putting together a circuit or typing on your computer.”

She recalls standing in Mexico two years ago, at one of the sites where telescopes were collecting data on a galaxy 54 million light years away, information she would eventually help transform. Going into a career in science means “working with people around the world. It’s going to telescopes at 15,000 feet,” she says. “It’s working toward making the first image of a black hole.”

This kind of thing is really important. If you have no idea what computer scientists and engineers actually do, you are probably not going to consider becoming one. But worse: what if you would actually love being a computer scientist, and what if you would be the best darn computer scientist that ever lived, but the idea of sitting at a desk at a computer all day makes you want to scream, so you never bother learning that computer scientists can do all sorts of things that don’t involve chaining themselves to a desk? There are computer scientists who study the human brain. There are computer scientists who are learning how to insert computer code into DNA and analyze how natural mutations affect the programs, and subsequently (maybe?) how we can use this to predict upcoming flu strains. There are computer scientists who design better roadways for cities. Whatever you can imagine! And more that you can’t! If you started studying computer science today, by the time you were ready to start finding work, it’s possible that new jobs would have popped up that hadn’t existed before you started learning about computer science!

I don’t mean to toot computer science’s horn or anything (in all honesty *yawn*), BUT it’s a great field (JOBSSSSSS), it PAYS, and LADIES (etc), don’t let all the men hog that money! TAKE IT! 

Plus, we need you!

April 10, 2019

Regular

six-legs-and-more:

six-legs-and-more:

entomologyfrassposting:

six-legs-and-more:

six-legs-and-more:

I just found what I think is a dying great diving beetle in the middle of campus for some reason so I brought it back to my dorm and stuck it in my freezer

I’m gonna try to pin it but I have never pinned an insect before so this is not going to be pretty 

but I gotta learn somehow 

Yeah broke sound about right I just tore apart an old slipper for the foam sole

This is gonna be great

Pinning is the best! Here’s the best spot to pin a beetle in just in case you didn’t know. A little tip I wish I knew when doing beetles, especially large ones, be careful where you pin in relation to the oegs because you could accidentally take a leg off when the pin goes through

Thank you so much you all are saving my life. As a little update the beetle, besides a bit of guts coming out from the bottom of it, was in pretty good condition: wings and legs and head nicely intact. I put it in a cutout bottom of a plastic cup legs down but now the beetle is frozen to the bottom of the cup by its guts. Marvel at my professional 12am handiwork. I should have froze it upside down. Ahh the things we learn through trial and error.

I’ll have a look. I can already hear the distant screams of those who have done this for years as I eventually subject them to watching me destroy this poor bug.

This site (Purdue Entomology [link]) has some great info and tips for pinning and displaying all sorts of insects (use the table of contents over to the left of the page to navigate). When you start pinning with labels, there is a special pinning block with various heights that allows you to have the labels all exactly the right distance apart so you can read all the info from the drawer.

April 8, 2019

Regular

pterygota:

systlin:

witchyatwork:

systlin:

madamehearthwitch:

systlin:

systlin:

But seriously, when we got our property, it was all just…grass. A sterile grass moonscape, like a billion other yards. With two big old maple trees. Just grass and maples, that was it. 

But then I got my grubby little paws on it, and I immediately stopped fertilizing, spraying, and bagging up grass clippings and leaves. I ripped up sod and put in flowers and vegetables. I put down nice thick blankets of mulch around the flowers and vegetables. 

When I first was sweating my way through stripping sod, I saw a grand total of 1 worm and 0 ladybugs. The ground was compacted into something that would bend shovel blades. 

Now, six years later, I can’t dig a planting hole without turning up fourteen earthworms, and there are so many ladybugs here. Not the invasive asian lady beetles; native ladybugs. They winter over in the mulch and in the brush pile. I see thousands of them. 

The soil is soft and rich. There are birds that come to eat, and bees of many sorts.

Like this is something that you, yourself, can absolutely change. This is something that you, personally, can make a difference in.

Like, last year I watched no fewer than twenty-nine monarch caterpillars grow up on my milkweed and fly away as butterflies. I watched swallowtails and moths grow. There are hummingbirds fighting over flowers now.

I did that. Me. You can do the same.

I would like to learn how to do this. Sometimes it all seems so overwhelming. I just want to find someone who can come over for a cuppa, and we can wander the yard and they can make me a plan. 

Preferably a very easy to follow, doesn’t take too much time every day plan.

It’s not nearly so intimidating as it sounds.

You can do a whole lot of good just by not spraying your yard, not mowing it so often, and not raking up leaves and grass.

But as a certified Lazy Ass Gardener, I can tell you for 100% certain that this is attainable, and requires absolutely zero, none, nada, zilch expensive or complicated equipment.

I don’t even have a plan. I just do things.

Wait so, dont mow as much, dont pick up the grass when you mow, and dont pick up leaves and your grass is healthier? my dad likes to mow the lawn every one to 2 weeks in the summer💀 what other tips do you guys have?

Yup. Those grass and leaf clippings rot down and fertilize the soil.

Grass does BETTER when it’s not mown short, and gives more hiding places to all sorts of insects.

Don’t spray. Let the bugs and ‘weeds’ live.

i have a 10’x10’ piece of garden that i initially used to grow things, but i abandoned it completely and now its absolutely covered in “weeds” and i even have a volunteer shrub that makes berries! the amount of native bees and other insects i attract is incredible. and all i do to maintain it is nothing.

For reals. I have to mow my front yard (I live in an HOA… ugh), but I don’t bag my clippings. I never water my yard (and I live in Texas!), but my grass is green all year. The clippings and mulched leaves keep in moisture and they’re nature’s fertilizer! Lizards and frogs hide under the leaves and clippings, and when you remove those, you are removing their habitat. Bugs will show up and munch on the clippings, and their waste adds more nutrients as well. I don’t fertilize. I don’t spray. I let nature do its thing. Even just in the front, there are bugs everywhere. I’ve found the tiny green sweat bees nesting in the ground under my rose bush, and the giant cicada killer wasps had a nest somewhere in my front yard last year–I couldn’t find it, but they were pollinating the sorrelvine that randomly showed up and decided to climb up my oak tree (which was the host plant for the Vine Sphinx moths and the first batch of sawflies I raised!)

In the back? I planted a few things in a small garden area, and I intentionally planted three (3) trees, but I’m busy/lazy and the back yard became the paradise jungle it is when I was writing my Master’s thesis after moving into this house, and I never had the heart to start mowing it. A bunch more trees decided to start growing on their own and I constantly have to murder soapberry and hackberry and elm saplings. My yard is covered in a mix of native plants and invasive bunch grass, in addition to random grains and sunflowers growing under the bird feeders. They all serve as hosts for insects. 

In less than three years, I have documented almost 1000 species of plants, insects, birds, fungi, slime molds, and mammals. My yard is 0.10 acres. I have ladybugs crawling out of my ears. The larvae are pupating all over my horse skeleton!!!

So yeah. Want species diversity in your yard? Plant native plants. Are you a lazy ass like me and want species diversity? Then don’t do anything, congratulations, nature still wins (just look out for all those invasives, and have fun pulling out catchweed -_-)

April 5, 2019

How do you feel about trees? Interested in cra…

How do you feel about trees? Interested in crazy tree facts? (I'm a forestry student and have many facts to share)

you probably know this already from being a dendrology major, but the biggest change to how i saw trees came from the realization that trees are a growth form, not their own thing. in other words, trees evolved multiple different times in multiple different families, and because they all have secondary growth (wood) and happened across similar anatomy so they kinda look the same, humans were like ‘ah yes. these are all trees’.

this means that there is no main tree family to which all trees belong. which is very trippy. 

i think it’s easy for us to see a tree, and see another tree, and be like ‘ah, these are both big tall woody plants with leaves attached to branches, therefore they must be closely related to other big tall woody plants with leaves attached to branches’, but that’s not necessarily the case. you can have trees that flower. you can have trees that dont flower. back some 400 million years ago, there were trees that reproduced with spores. you can have a plant family that just so happens to have a bunch of different species of trees that are closely related, but that doesn’t mean that they’re all closely related to other trees just because they happen to grow like a tree. 

for example: maple trees and birch trees are both trees that flower, which lumps them into the big clade of all flowering plants: the angiosperms. both the maple tree and the birch tree then fit into the same sub-clade, the rosids, which includes about 70,000 species of flowering plants of all kinds. from there, though, the clade splits into two orders: the fabids and the malvids. the maple tree is in the malvid group, while the birch is in the fabid group (although both of these trees as we know them now are pretty far down the line, if that makes sense. like a good few million years and a half dozen families of evolution from there). 

according to the angiosperm phylogeny website, the fabid/malvid split happened about 100 million years ago. flowering plants entered the scene 130 million years ago. this means that the last time the ancestors of maple trees and the ancestors of birch trees were closely related was when dinosaurs still roamed the earth (this would be in the peak of the cretaceous period). even then, they might not have even been trees yet at all. 

obviously you can have trees that are more closely or distantly related, but there’s a sample of like…..how far apart trees can be from one another on an evolutionary basis. like. idk in high school i just assumed that all trees were in a big family of their own and that’s why they all looked like trees lmao 

The Day the Dinosaurs Died

The Day the Dinosaurs Died:

tratserenoyreve:

bunjywunjy:

digitaldiscipline:

hey, @bunjywunjy – this might be your jam (and any other dinosaur enthusiasts, it’s a heck of a read)

man that’s not just a heck of a read it’s fuckin GROUNDBREAKING is what it is!

this dude actually found a large fossil deposit that was created not just close to, but actually DURING THE K-PG EXTINCTION EVENT.

IT’S LITERALLY A WINDOW BACK IN TIME TO THE CHICXULUB IMPACT, AND TURNS OUT IT WAS WORSE THAN ANYTHING WE COULD POSSIBLY HAVE IMAGINED

it’s a geologic snapshot of the apocalypse.

reading the full article is certainly a trip, and to summarize for those who are intimidated by longer reads:

– chicxulub is the given name for the meteor that struck/initiated the event

– the paleontologist within is described as making groundbreaking discoveries of multiple species every day, but many of his peers discount him because they’re grouchy old dudes he accidentally had a fragment of a turtle bone involved in a larger reconstruction of a fossil this one time and they won’t let him live it down.

– the extinction event was so fast and so destructive, this guy describes this particular dig-site as being so densely layered with dead and dying creatures, there is a lot of organic tissues that have been preserved, and he is able to even discern that many of the marine and freshwater fish may have still been alive as they were buried due to molten glass being found in their gills, implying they were still attempting to breathe.

– they looked into exactly when and how this could have happened, having freshwater and marine animals stacked on top of mammals and larger dinosaurs (including an amazing deinonychus forearm discovery he was able to match to feather fossils he was finding atop the pile), and rather it being the initial tsunami, they are fairly sure that it was caused by a seiche of catastrophic proportions, which would have been set off within the first hour of the event. denser and larger creatures sunk to the bottom, leaving lighter debris like leaves, small fish, feathers, and molten glass on the surface.

summary: terrifying!

Regular

cablefucker69:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

The Official Cecropia Moth Life Cycle Post™

Buckle in kids, this one should be exciting and full of drama.

It all started with a text message. A friend out in Smithville (i.e. further out in the country than me) found some giant caterpillars:

I dropped everything to go see them. I lovingly adopted one caterpillar (who would turn out to be the female), and was also gifted with a cocoon (which held the male), one of many my friend found in her elderberry bush.

Winter came and went, the moths emerged, and got to business right away. They didn’t seem to mind that they were probably siblings.

The female laid eggs.

After about 20 days, they started to hatch:

They hatched three days ago.

Which brings us up to today. Most of them are out of their eggs by now. And they have started eating. I offered them a choice. Elm (good for me, I have lots of elm), or elderberry (please no it’s a baby I don’t have enough elderberry for 50 cecropias please no).

Here’s their little mini-home:

Elm (light green) vs elderberry (dark green)

Guess what the turds picked?

Of course.

My current plan is to grow the elderberry as much as I can (does the elderberry have favorite foods? Can I give it a ritual sacrifice? ???) and then return some of the caterpillars to the motherland when things get too ridiculous. I’m sure my friend will be super excited about that. And I can play with her bees when I visit, too!

Stay tuned (*sigh*)

March 19, 2019

Are they bigger?? They haven’t started Munchathon 2019 yet, but they are warming up, for sure.

March 21, 2019

They are bigger (and turning yellow)!

They finally turned their hungry on!

Not all my eggs hatched, so my “50” is greatly exaggerated. Looks like I have 13 if no more eggs hatch. A little more manageable. I can sneak them treats from my plum tree if I need to stretch the elderberry.

March 22/23, 2019

Baby’s First Molt

Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!

I just came home to find my first 2nd instar baby Cecropia! This was them this morning:

I had a feeling they were about to pop.

When they’re getting ready to molt, they will put down a silk mat to hold onto with their old skin (think velcro), while they crawl out of it. Then they hold real still for a few hours while their new head squeezes out of the old one so they have a hole to climb out of.

Here is the mat of one getting ready to molt:

In some species (and for older caterpillars), it can be more obvious, but you can usually see the silk when light shines on it. Here is the same caterpillar (side-view):

The silk mat is a little more obvious here. See how he looks like a fat sausage ready to pop?! (*whispers* it’s cuz he is).

March 26, 2019

So large!

I can’t believe how fast they grow! Elderberry bush is still holding out.

March 30, 2019

What region are you in? I’m in the midwest myself and my cecropias aren’t due to eclose until late April, and you already have third instar cats? Do you get two broods a year where you live?

Hello there! I am in central Texas (just outside Austin), and my caterpillars are still second instar. The Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center’s eggs haven’t started hatching yet, so there is a variation in timing, even in my area. We do not get two broods a year, our cecropias make cocoons in late May/June and stay there until the next March.

I would like to share a great tool for tracking insect life cycles (especially if you don’t know if a species of interest has two broods a year!). iNaturalist! Check it out [link]:

That graph in the lower right corner? That’s a life cycle chart. Each color corresponds to a different life stage. Blue is adult moth, and orange is caterpillar. I have this graph filtered to just show data from Texas, because that’s where I am, and it’s clear that we only have one generation a year!

Compare that to the Polyphemus Moth [link]:

Look, two generations a year!

There is one issue with these charts, and it’s that they rely on people annotating their observations in iNaturalist with life cycle information (tagging their observations as “adult” or “larva,” etc). Anybody can tag observations, so when I want to know how many generations a species has, I’ll go through the observations from Texas and tag them, then check out the chart. It helped me figure out when to expect my Io moths to emerge!

Good luck with your moths! 

March 30, 2019