Category: submissions

Maybe you can find the queen in all that mess and, well. I don't wanna say squish but needs does as the devil drives and all that.

The wonderful and magical thing about Solenopsis invicta, the Red Imported Fire Ants, is they come in two different flavors: single queen colonies, and multiple queen colonies.

Texas A&M Agrilife Extension puts it pretty well [link to their Fire Ant FAQ]:

Multiple queen (polygyne form): more than one and up to hundreds of unrelated queens per colony; smaller average worker ants; worker ants move freely from one mound to another and share resources; mound densities greater than 300 mound per acre; more ants per acre.


Every time I post anything about fire ants, I get all sorts of suggestions for how to deal with them from people who do not live on former farmland in Texas. Folks, my entire yard is fire ants. If I dig a random hole anywhere in my yard, I will hit a fire ant nest. My entire neighborhood is like this, I asked my neighbors

I will say, by establishing a healthy ecosystem in my yard (and by NOT WATERING A LAWN), the fire ants actually have to compete with some of the native ants, and they have been driven out of some areas by native species, so my fire ant problem is not nearly as bad as it was a few years ago.

Also, the ants in the photos I posted are safely tucked away in the freezer. It’s the only way to safely get them out of the hand vac. I guess I may as well put the pupae in alcohol. Fire ants are one of the few bugs I do not feel bad about killing (well… maybe a little, but I still have scars on my hand from the Cat Food Incident three years ago, the first time they invaded my house, so… I said this was war).

June 29, 2019

Hi! I'm a AntsCanada fan and he recently got vampire crabs and I want to know your opinion on them.

I wasn’t aware of AntsCanada and had to look him up. Here is the video. 

Here is my opinion on vampire crabs:


(photography credit: Pierre Escoubas [iNaturalist link])

In case anybody saw the video but missed this fun factoid: these crabs are very common in the pet trade, but there were a few “new species” discovered only a few years ago! Here’s an article from 2015 about them [link]!

June 21, 2019

Sorry for all the questions but I got curious after your last post (the earring one): how do you, like, kill the insects animal friendly? Are you bummed out over it or is it just part of the job for you?

Hi there! I’m still working on your first question, I’ll post that tomorrow. 

I don’t kill the insects, my friend who makes the earrings does. There is a big long complicated discussion about collections in general, in terms of being able to have a historical catalogue of species diversity and populations, and you can’t have that without killing things. In some ways, it’s a harder conversation for animals like birds and mammals, because they live longer, reproduce less frequently, and are seen as more intelligent. 

But for me, it very much would bum me out. I have had to euthanize some of my insects (I do it by putting them in the freezer), and even that is really hard to do. I’ve never taken an entomology course because of it. When I was 12, I wanted to be a marine biologist. I was obsessed with fish and marine invertebrates since I was 4, I loved everything about them. But at one point, I realized… you can’t be a wildlife biologist without doing dissections. And I’m a vegetarian who couldn’t even eat fake meat for years because it freaked me out by looking too real (this was in the 90′s before they had good ones)–there was no way I would be able to do a dissection! So over 20 years later, I’m doing wildlife biology my way, but without any formal training, because every entomology course has a component where you create a collection–meaning, you kill insects, and you practice pinning them. 

For most insects, they are killed quickly in a jar with chemicals. Ethyl acetate is the most common, and it’s used in nail polish remover. Freezing is used for some other insects (like moths, to prevent them from damaging their wings with the chemicals). I don’t know what method my friend uses, but he doesn’t use chemicals since he feeds the leftover parts to other animals (his research lab has a lot of fish). 

The thing with collecting is, maybe it’s all part of the job for some, but I think most of the people who study any kind of biology were drawn to it by the living organisms. Very few people in this field take it for granted that the study of life necessitates death, especially when it’s at our own hands. Even my hardened entomologist friends have told me that the first few times are never easy. But in many cases, what you collect could outlive you many times over. There are insects sitting in collections that are hundreds of years old, which are still in good enough shape that we can still study and learn from them.

March 15, 2019

@keepcalmandcarrieunderwood submitted:

I poured some coffee down the sink and this feller came crawling out of the drain none to happy with the shower I gave em

Looks like a Giant House Spider (Eratigena duellica), which is an introduced species from Europe [link] which arrived at shipping ports on Vancouver Island, Canada in 1929, and has been moving steadily inward (reaching Seattle by 1960). According to bugguide, is is primarily present only in BC (Canada), WA, and OR (US), although with citizen science becoming more prevalent, we will likely see that it has spread even further. There are many reports of this spider in much of the US on iNaturalist, but very few of them have been verified (and many may be misidentifications of similar, native spider species).

Thank you for sharing your handsome friend!

September 6, 2018

A lot of these friendly fliers were going around town last month! They move fast around flowery places then leave (so taking a good pic was suuuper hard) any idea what they are?

Looks like it could be a common grass yellow butterfly! Anyone else have any suggestions as to what type of butterfly this is?

hey, sorry about the low quality pictures but does anyone know what this thing is? they’ve been showing up in my room for a while now and i’m starting to wonder if i should be concerned about that

Here’s another challenge for you guys! Any clue what this could be?

Nursery Rhymes by Ansel Oommen

Left: spicebush swallowtail (Papilio troilus)

Right: Eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Bottom: pipevine swallowtail (Battus philenor)

Thank you for the submission Ansel!

Can someone help me figure out what this is??

This is a little tough, it looks like it might be a silverfish based off the shape… Anyone else have any suggestions?