Wednesday, December 27, 2006

ET shows her age

I have ET over the Christmas holidays. She's still chugging along. (I still need to tally up her egg production.) And I have noticed she is getting dark age spots similar to the ones I've seen on my aging mantids.

In this close up of the tip of her abdomen, you can see an egg ready for deployment.

Deroplatys eating

Here's a picture of my little deroplatys eating a fly several days ago. She(?) is doing pretty well, but her appetite seems to come and go sometimes. She will usually eat something offered by hand, though. It's tough to be a warm weather bug in the cold of winter. (Even if it's just "California cold"!)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Bees on aloe flowers

Here's a couple of quick shots from the other day. The bees were sporting some nice orange pollen.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Bean counter stuck at 35?

I have way more than 35 eggs. I haven't been counting them. Too lazy. Sorry. I'll try to get to it soon.

A Merry Mantis Christmas

I got this in my email the other day from the creator of The Mantis Parable. Thought it was cute.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Mantis Monday for 12-04-06

Jerry gave me this silver and bone mantis pin for our 25th anniversary. (We just celebrated our 27th the other day.)

This is effectively the end of my collection. Thank you for letting me share it with you. I hope to continue with Mantis Mondays next year, this time posting links to other mantis pictures and articles I find.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Who goes there?

I saw an intreaguing shadow this afternoon while hunting for flies for my little dead-leaf mantis.

Behind the leaf was this small milkweed bug, Lygaeus kalmii.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

ET, the movie

No, not the cute little alien of Speilberg fame. It's a movie of my ET stickbug. This is my first video, so it's not too thrilling. But it's been a lesson for me, just figuring out how to do it. (I'll probably need many repeat lessons. So Mr. Speilberg's career is in no danger!)

Monday, November 27, 2006

Pink mantis captured

...with my new camera, that is .

The plan is to carry my camera with me wherever I go, so I can take pictures whenever something catches my eye. So here's what grabbed my attention on the way into the bookstore:

Hee-hee! She's pink! Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 24, 2006

The new camera

I took it to the arboretum this morning, (yes, while most other people were out shopping, I was wandering through the arboretum. I hate shopping, anyway.) I was eager to see how it did taking pictures of plants and bugs. I didn't realize until I downloaded them onto my computer that I didn't even have the camera set to high resolution. I will have to figure out how to do that for next time. Even so, I was pleased with its performance. So far, it has been easy to use, but I know there are lots of features I don't know how to use yet.

To complicate matters, things are changing regarding the way I need to upload my pictures to my blogs. That's why I had to make a bunch of little posts instead of one long one. So just keep scrolling down. When you get to the post about the tiny fly in the cactus flower, that's the end. Posted by Picasa

Insects on the milkweed

Well actually, this little fly was near the milkweed. I was just happy to be able to take a picture of something so little.

Monarch caterpillar season is now in session.

A ladybug munches on a yellow aphid.

A little syrphid fly. Posted by Picasa

The small stuff

I couldn't even tell this was a bug at first, it was so tiny.

Thanks to the macro, I could see it was a teeny tiny leaf-hopper of some kind.

This one wasn't as tiny, but it came out good. Posted by Picasa

Bees, close up, and practically in focus!

I have always wanted to photograph bees carrying different colors of pollen in their "pollen baskets", but it was very hard for me to get them in focus. This new camera makes it much easier. Here's some very light creamy-colored pollen.

Some tomato-red pollen. Posted by Picasa

A bee-mimic fly..

With striped eyes!

It was the same size as a bee, but weird-looking. Posted by Picasa

There's a tiny fly inside this cactus flower.

It's walking around on the pollen grains.

See? Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 13, 2006

Mantis Monday for 11-13-06

I got this little plush praying mantis several years ago, during the Beanie Baby craze. It isn't an actual Beanie Baby, nor do I think there was ever a mantis character in their product line. But there were plenty of off-brand little stuffed animals trying to ride the wave of Beanie success, and I think this guy was one of those.

At this time, I have gone through just about all of my praying mantis-obelia for Mantis Monday.
I might have a few more little plastic ones, but they are likely duplicates or near-duplicates of others I have already posted. I do have one more rather elegant piece, but I'm saving it for a couple more weeks. And I have hopes for a revised version of Mantis Monday for next year.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Three's a crowd

I came upon a trio of grasshoppers this afternoon. The smaller males were making their way, slowly, to the large female. I didn't have a lot of time to stand there and watch them, but I did stay long enough for the male on the far right to lightly tap on the guy in front of him, as if to say, "May I cut in?", and then the front-runner slowly moved away.

As the male crept closer, the female suddenly drew her hind legs up sharply, and the male retreated somewhat, over the side of the fenceboard. I had to leave them at this point, and when I came back, they were both gone. Off to romantic hideaway, I hope.

Praying mantis comic

My aunt called this comic to my attention the other day. It was one of those classic "I saw this bug-related thing, and I thought of you," moments.

Frank & Ernest by Bob Thaves
Thanks, Heather!

A mantid in Oregon

I am finding lots of great bug photos online. It's easier than finding them outside, and just as addictive! Oregon Wild: Chinese Mantid

This guy has other bug photos in his blog, many of them snapped while they were flying. (I'm jealous!)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Mantis Monday for 11-06-06

Ground Mantids

When I was a kid, we had ground mantids in our yard. I didn’t really know that’s what they were back then, only that they were smaller and more elusive than the ones that lived in the bushes, and they ran really fast with their bodies held close to the ground, like tiny lizards.

I have seen very few ground mantids since then. My favorite sighting was in my beloved Death Valley, on my birthday, about 10 years ago. While exploring along the outskirts of a cinder cone, I spied some tiny mantids running on the sandy-lava soil. I marveled at their tiny size, considering it was November, and wondered whether they were young nymphs that hatched after the hottest part of the year had passed, or if they were adults, which most other mantids would surely be by this time of year. If they were adults, they were super small.

Unfortunately, this was before we had entered the age of digital cameras, and this was the best picture we were able to get at the time. I sent a copy of the photo to Death Valley, with a note asking for information about the mantid, but in the reply, they said they didn’t know anything about it. I can hardly believe it, but I haven’t even been back to DV since then. It’s been way too long. I dream of going back and finding the little desert mantids again.

A few years ago, I found more ground mantids on our trip to Paradise. I was able to catch one and photograph it through the jar.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Deroplatys Lobata sheds successfully

It's been 2 weeks since I brought the little bugger home. He* was very active until the other day, when he seemed like he might be ready to moult. I kept misting him and trying to keep him warm. This morning he finally shed.

And here is where I put his container to keep him warm...In Spike's cage!
She couldn't quite figure out what was in there.

* I don't know if he's really a male. I usually default to the masculine until I confirm otherwise.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Toads, anyone? Okay, how about a candy bar?

It's looking like another boring Halloween. Like a pioneer-era town bypassed by the railroad and left to decline into obscurity, our house gets bypassed by the trick-or-treaters because we live on a busy street, and on our particular block, hardly anyone turns on their lights and hands out candy.

But my pumpkin is out there, glowing and smiling fiercely. I have my bowl of candy ready. And as I wait, straining my ears for the sound of approaching children, I'm just playing on my computer. Here is a post from The Firefly Forest from the other day: Couch’s Spadefoot Toads

What cute little toadies!

Oh, if anybody wants to know, I'm giving out 3 Musketeers, Snickers, and M&M's. We usually end up with leftovers, so I might as well give out candy I like.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Mantis Monday for 10-20-06

Blogger's been a pain-in-the-wazoo lately. First I couldn't get this to post at all, then all of a sudden, there were 3 of them. Oh well...

Since tomorrow's Halloween, I have chosen the creepiest looking mantis from what's left of my collection. I don't remember when I got it, much less why I would keep something so ugly, but today it gets its moment of fame (?) so maybe it was meant to be. Molded of cheap-o blue plastic, the poor creature doesn't even have a complete face.

See what I mean? Boo! Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Millipedes from the insect fair

In addition to the dead-leaf mantid nymph, I also found these millipedes irresistible. They are called Apheloria Tigana, wild-caught from North Carolina. They were on display in a wide and shallow container, and there were quite a few of them milling around in the substrate. (millipedes milling around, he he..)


Well anyway, I bought 4 of them, and after setting up one of my big jars with a few inches of oak leaf litter, they promptly burrowed down into it and stayed there. I thought maybe they might come out at night, but they didn't. After a day or two, I worried that maybe they all died, so I dug around and pulled a couple out, and they seemed OK.

So today was the first chance I had to try a photo-shoot with these guys. I took 2 out and put them in the lid. They never stopped moving.

They are kind of cute, for millipedes, I guess. They look a little bit like stretch-limo sowbugs. But it's disappointing that they don't want to come to the surface.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Keeping count of ET's eggs

I made a little "bean counter" for the bottom of this blog-page. (You can scroll down to see it.) I will update it periodically, as I tally the eggs I find in the bottom of ET's cage. I will keep them together by month, so next month I will start a new incubation container.

I guess this is a good time to mention that I would be happy to send these little beans to anyone in the USA who would like to grow an ET of their own.

Mantis Monday for 10-23-06

Okay, there are a couple things wrong with this post, the first of which is that it's not even Monday anymore, and this isn't really a collectible item, although I did buy it at the insect fair. It's a dead leaf mantis, deroplatys lobata. It's tiny, very active, and I had a hard time getting a good picture.

Bug Spiral!

This was, for some reason, one of my favorite things at the whole bug fair. I think it had something to do with the little paper signs stuck into the frame.

Don't touch it. Just look and be amazed.
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