Sunday, October 30, 2005


What's in your lunch?

I bought some grapes at the market today, and served them with our lunch. As I was plucking them off one by one, I encountered what I thought was a dog hair. (I have a yellow lab. His hair gets everywhere.) Anyway, as I picked it off, I realized it was a strand of spider silk. I didn't think too much of it unitl I had pulled a few more grapes from the stem, revealing this egg sac.

I pulled all the rest of the grapes off and put the stem with the spider eggs outside.

The wasp mimic fly

I found this in my back yard this morning while I was out catching flies for my little yellow frog. At first, I thought it was a yellow jacket, but on closer inspection, I realized it was actually a fly. Since I had my net, I caught it and put it in a jar so I could see it better and take some pictures.

It had very wasp-like pattern and coloring on its back.

But the face of a fly, and a fly's little antennas.

In this view, it was rubbing its front legs together, fly-style.


Here you can see the fly's tongue. Ok, so it's definitely a fly. I had never seen one like this before, so I looked it up online ( It's a wasp-mimic fly of the Spilomyia species.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Dead bugs found in car.

Michael found these dead bugs while cleaning his girlfriend's car. These dessicated insects looked very well preserved in the corner of the rear window.

Hitchhiking can be dangerous, even for bugs.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Bugs and stuff

All summer, I saw plenty of Monarch butterflies, and some eggs, when I took the time to search for them under the leaves. I saw no caterpillars though. I blamed it on the ever-present wasps on patrol for food items for their young. I was surprised and delighted to see that this one had survived its childhood unnoticed, except by me.

I don't usually get very good pictures of flying insects. They move too fast for me. This big-eyed fly was more cooperative.

This late-season beetle was on the bush next to where the fly was. It was going for the nectar in those little flowers.

Carpenter bees are another tough one for me. this one is almost in focus!

OK, no bugs here, but the Buddha's Hand tree was especially full of large "hands", so I thought I'd sneak a couple of 'em in here.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Insect fair purchases

A T shirt with a cool praying mantis on it. (from the UC Riverside booth, obviously)

And...3 eggs that will hopefully hatch in a couple of months into ......


The Australian Giant Prickly Stick insect, AKA Macleay's Spectre
Extatosoma tiaratum

(This photo is from the internet, because I was not able to get a good picture yesterday through their screened enclosure at the fair.)

Regarding the pricing on the orchid mantis, I'm sorry to say I didn't even look at the price, because I had no intentions of buying one, but generally exotic mantids sell for $15.00 and up as small nymphs. A subadult like the orchid mantis could well be $30.00 or more.

My prickly stick eggs were $10.00 for all 3. This is the first time I have seen those eggs for sale. The insects themselves are generally not sold, but displayed for educational purposes only. So I feel lucky to have been able to buy the eggs.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Dead Bug Society

A well-ordered army of specimens.

There were lots of butterflies, from the exotic to the ordinary.

Ever wonder who would like a dried centipede...and why?

This seems like a good price for dead beetles, if you're into that sort of thing. Many of the folks visiting the bug fair were buying specimens like these to add to their collections.

Here's some that were already wrapped and ready to go.

Some were super cool, like this huge exotic katydid.

There was a booth with keychains and jewelry made with beetles cast in resin.

There were also a few non-insect things that managed to find their way onto the sales tables. One of the most unusual were some small dried bats.

I did buy a couple of things at the insect fair. I'll post about them tomorrow.

A morning at the Insect Fair

Follow the signs. Right this way!

Got my hand stamped with my admission.

Just a big room full of bug stuff.

A lot of it was dead specimens in glass-topped boxes.

More dead bugs my next post....

Of course, my favorite stuff is the hands-on.

Look at this little girl touching a millipede.

And, here's what she found so delightful.

This is a little too delightful, even for me.

I liked this lady. She puts on educational shows for kids' parties, schools, etc.
(Bell's Bugs, Etc.)

Loved the hat.

This vendor had a bunch of mantids for sale, but he didn't have the kind I wanted. (Dead Leaf mantis)

He did have this pretty orchid mantis, though.

Anybody wanna buy a cockroach?

And, oh yeah, Bio Quip was there. They have all kinds of bug collecting supplies. Check out their website.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

About that error in the Bug book...

I sent an email to the publisher. They replied very quickly. (I was surprised.)

.....Thanks for pointing out this error to us. I agree this is a pretty bad one, especially since the information is so easy to check. This book was produced out of our London office more than seven years ago, so I'm not sure if it will be possible to figure out how this happened.
Unfortunately, errors do creep into our books occasionally, and all we can do is correct them for future reprints of the book. I'll get in contact with the London team and ask that they do so on this title. I realize this does little to fix the problem of there already being many, many books out there with wrongly-identified caterpillars, but, as you've already inferred, there really isn't much we can do about that now.
Please accept our apologies for the fact that this book was not up to the usual DK standards. It does bother us when we see an error like this--and hopefully it increases our vigilance against committing similar errors in the future....

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Butterfly leaf collage

It's especially nice when I can enjoy two of my interests together; in this case art and nature. The kids made these leaf creature pictures. I think this is the coolest kids art project. In fact, I'm thinking of trying it myself! This one is obviously a butterfly. You can see other creatures here.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Nit-picking and fact finding *UPDATED*

(Please see update at bottom of post)

So, while I was shopping at WalMart today, my eyes were drawn to this book:

I flipped through it and was surprised to see this creature labeled as a Monarch caterpillar:

It was definitely not a monarch caterpillar, although I could tell it was "in the family". As soon as I got home, I went online to find it, and here it is: Oleander butterfly Native to Australia.

The book showed a regular Monarch butterfly and chrysalis. Just the caterpillar was wrong. I wonder how this got past the editors, and does any one else care, or even notice the mistake?

*UPDATE* 10/12/05
Today was my day to volunteer at my local elementary school. While I was there, I checked, and sure enough, the misinformed book was on the shelf in their library. When I called the error to the attention of my teacher/friend (who is also a nature and bug enthusiast) she said I should notify the publisher. I just might do that. We'll see.

Glow in the dark bugs

I picked these up at WalMart to add to my Halloween costume for the upcoming Haunted Garden at the arboretum. Last year, I just had "regular" colored bugs, and I don't think anybody could see them in the dark.

Insect Fair - Cal Poly Pomona

The Insect Fair is this weekend. I would like to go, but I don't know if I'll have time. I already have other things planned. Hopefully I can fit it in.

To the insect-minded folks who read this (all 5 of you, maybe?), if you've never been to an insect fair, you're missing out. Keep tabs on the schedules for your local universities and museums. There's bound to be one some time.

The link takes you to the Cal Poly campus news article. It gives a lot more coverage to its Pumpkin Patch, which runs concurrently.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Mantis Exoskeleton

This is the shed skin from my big brown mantis from last month. I don't know why I like to keep the skins for awhile. They are a perfect replica of the insect, down to the antennas, the mouthparts, and even the claws and toes. And while the notion of a skeleton is sometimes associated with death, an exoskeleton is evidence of life and growth.

In any case, Michael hates seeing these things lying around, so I think it's time to bid this fine specimen a fond farewell. I have this nice picture to remember her by.

Tiny Spiders

This whole flower was about the size of a Ritz cracker. That gives you an idea of the size of the spider.

This tiny jumping spider was an iridescent golden color.

a little closer.
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