Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Stick Insect Leg Generation, Part 2

In an earlier post, I described my observations of the development of regenerated legs in the stick insects. Then I sort of "lost" that particular stick insect in my garden. (That happens too many times!) But last week, I found her again. She had not shed her skin since that last photo. But a few days indoors, and she shed. Her new leg is now almost full size.

The shed-skin.

Close-up of the curled up embryonic leg (skin)

Head-on view of the stick-insect after shedding. The new leg is its rear-left leg, appearing in the upper right of the photo.

Monday, December 13, 2004

They're not milkweed bugs.

They're box elder bugs! There were several clusters of them on this park bench in the arboretum.

Here's a "zoomed out" view of the bench. You can see the dark clusters of the bugs on the top corners.

RC Scuttle Bug

Saw this in a Radio Shack ad from yesterday's paper. Think it looks sort of like a mantis? RC Scuttle Bug
Maybe I should take a little trip to my local Radio Shack and see one in person....

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Bug Girl

This is me. Well, this was me, as a kid, about 9 years old. Holding a praying mantis. I was already seriously addicted to bugs!

It really is a crappy picture, but I treasure it, because in my heart, I am still just a kid fascinated by lizards and bugs.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Toby and Spike

This is generally not a very good time of year for finding bugs, unless you count the ants in our bathroom. I figure, though, that anyone who appreciates bugs would not mind seeing my lizards, either.

Toby and Spike are brumating right now. It's kind of like a low-level hibernation. They sleep most of the time, and don't eat, but they do move around a little bit, and will wake up and look around if you turn on the light or make some sort of commotion near their tank. Spike had been completely hidden under the logs since the end of October. Toby was sleeping with just her head visible. A few days ago, they moved to where you can see them both. I thought they looked cute.

After the holidays, I will start warming them up again.

Sleeping beauties: Toby (on the bottom) and Spike

Thursday, November 18, 2004


Close up!
See more of these little guys in the following post.

Just hatched

I saw the eggs just a few days ago, on our patio cover. Today, they hatched.

Lotsa teeny caterpillars

Some eggs still visible

on the edge

Painted Tiger Moth.
I think this is what they will turn into.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

All Hail The Royal Offspring


A little guy


Monarch and queen caterpillars competing for what's left of the same branch.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

They're not bugs...

..but they're cute little critters, so I'm including them today.

I really like my little yellow froggie! He wasn't really happy with his first terrarium set-up, but then I changed it, and now his appetite is much better and he is growing. I clean his house about once a week, and when I take him and his plants out, it's much easier to get a cute picture of him.

Now that we have had rain, and the weather is cooler, the salamanders are returning (from wherever they hide all summer). This was the first one I saw last weekend.

Like an earthworm with a little froggy face on it. (and legs!)

Monday, November 08, 2004

Pinkish, purplish, grayish, mantid.

This has been a great year for the mantids here. I saw many at the arboretum. These are a different species than the ones that live in my yard. They are smaller and a little slimmer. They have the little spot on the underside of the abdomen, like the one's I had when I was a kid.

I had rationalized that I would bring a few home, because the whole front area of the arboretum where I found them is going to be remodeled. The resulting landscaping changes would likely send too many oothecae into the chipper. I can keep the mantids unitl they lay eggs, then keep the eggs until they hatch and release the babies in just the right spot. (Yes, I could just move these mantids to a better spot in the arboretum, but you never know what plants those pesky groundskeepers will trim next.)

So anyway, there I was yesterday, staring into this one bush where I had previously seen two adult females. This time I found four of them. I took the 2 bigger ones. One of them was this beautiful, weirdly colored one.

I didn't have my camera with me yesterday, because I had my collecting stuff instead. (Didn't want to be too loaded down.) So I posed her this morning on one of my succulent plants that comes closest to matching her coloring.

Compared to her green sister.

Just a note: I don't know why the pictures don't look 100% sharp. They looked better viewed through the Nikon image thingy. They also look better when you click on them.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Observations on limb regeneration in stick insects

I have seen how some insects can regrow lost legs, especially if the loss occurs at a young age. What I find really interesting is how the new legs grow in the stick insects. When the insect has its next molt after the loss,
a tiny, curled-up leg emerges. I think it must develop under the exoskeleton all coiled-up, only to be released when the insect sheds. Then, it gradually straightens and grows with each subsequent shed until it reaches normal size.

I wonder if the baby stick insect is similarly coiled inside its egg before it hatches. I'd like to watch one hatch someday.

Regenerated "embryonic" leg. Click image to enlarge. You can see the toes.

UPDATE: See part 2 of this post here.

A new one for me!

This morning, I was taking Boomer for a walk, and I spied this caterpillar on a low planter wall. A quick scan of the immediate area revealed some little shrubs with several more of them. I had never seen this kind of caterpillar before, so after I finished my walk with Boomie, I looked in my book and on the internet, and I have tentatively identified it as a Genista Moth caterpillar.

Then, of course, I went back with my camera to take pictures of them!

Genista moth caterpillar

Two caterpillars on their host plant

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Spiders: Creepy and delightful for Halloween

This seems like as good an excuse as any to post a few of my favorite spider pictures. Some of them are a couple of years old.

A young green lynx spider moults.

Hanging out to dry.

Araneus spider

Crab spider. This is one of my favorite pictures from last year.

White female crab spider

Male of the same species

Spider romance. The much-smaller male embraces the female.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Hope for next year

This was a female that I did not originally keep in captivity, but I had marked her with 2 tiny dabs of green paint, and I kept tabs on her in my yard. She survived some serious rainstorms and temperatures that may have dropped into the lower 50's. Maybe even in the upper 40's. (That's actually pretty cold for this area at this time of year.)

Anyway, I felt sorry for her, having to endure the weather. Almost to the end of her life cycle. I brought her in and fed her. This afternoon I could hear her, restlessly scratching away at the side of her jar. Tonight I returned from an event at the arboretum to find her beginning an egg sac.

I don't know if she had mated, but hopefully, there will be more baby mantids next spring.

Ootheca in progress.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Other people's bugs

I continue to be amazed and delighted that there are other people who share my interest in bugs! Here's a guy who takes some really cool pictures of bugs and other nature stuff.
Ethan's Blog: Praying Mantis

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Look what the rain washed up.

It's a gray and soggy day. I just looked outside to see scores of earthworms, driven from their saturated homes, forced to cruise the concrete in search of drier ground.

Stranded earthworms in the driveway

Another casualty of the weather was this big Black Widow spider, who apparently tried to take refuge under our mailbox. (She was not living there before. I would have known about it!) I don't normally kill spiders, but in this case I made an exception. Sorry.

My mailbox

Too close for comfort!

This is why I call it "Bug Safari"

It's my favorite job at the arboretum, and the reason I signed up to become a Nature Guide. I take kids around and we just look for whatever bugs we can find. Of course, I try to locate stuff beforehand, so I can take them to areas where they will find something interesting.

This past weekend, we started out behind the Heritage House, where there is a good-sized square planter that the kids can access from all sides with their bug nets. There were bees, stinkbugs and harlequin bugs, an inchworm, several grasshoppers and katydids, and a pretty yellow crab spider.

Then, on to the deciduous woodland, where there were an abundance of box elder bugs in all sizes running around in the leaf-litter.

From there, the thorn forest, where a Green Lynx spider was guarding her egg case while eating a bee. Several other bushes along the way had miscellaneous and variable critters. Not too many butterflies. Not enough sun for them. But all in all there was enough for the kids to see, and I was able to contain it to about 30 minutes per tour.

I didn't have time to take pictures during the safaris, but I went back on Monday, to get shots of the grasshoppers, as part of my continuing series on grasshopper color variation:

Classic green


2 nymphs

Dark nymph

The Green Lynx spider had caught another bee, too.

Monday, October 11, 2004

More on grasshopper coloration....

I noticed a few more grasshoppers in my desolate and neglected side yard. Despite the harsh conditions, they have managed to survive, and have camouflaged themselves accordingly.

Side yard wasteland

This grasshopper matches the dead weeds.

This one blends in with the dirt.

Little dirt-clod nymph

A mottled brown nymph jumped onto the wall.
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