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..)

Ahem.

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.

Misc. insect fair stuff

This year's insect fair at Cal Poly Pomona was very similar to last year's, but I tried to take pictures of things that caught my eye.



These are freeze dried caterpillars. I'd never seen that before. Gross, huh?


Freeze-dried monarch caterpillars. I guess their little antennas froze off.



These little anise swallowtail caterpillars were selling for 7 dollars apiece! And to think, I found all those other ones in my neighborhood for free!




In two different booths, I found different insects that appear mostly green, but with brilliant pink wings.

I can only try to imagine what this grasshopper would have looked like in nature, flying through a jungle canopy, no doubt.



This was pretty, whatever it is/was.


And what insect fair would be complete without an orchid mantis? Once again, I reluctantly decided against spending $25.00 on one of these delicate creatures. I will post soon about what I did purchase.

An exquisite collection

At the same booth with the snout beetles, there was this unbelievable collection of small multicolored butterflies. The guy in the booth said that these species don't sell as well as the bigger exotics, mostly because they are so small, but he and some of his friends collect and trade them amongst themselves. This tray was for display only, not for sale. He was nice enough to open the glass top on the tray so I could take a picture without the glare.



Can you imagine....






This is a tropical hairstreak species.

An army of color!

I loved these beetles on display at the insect fair. All snout beetles, in an amazing variety of colors!









Monday, October 23, 2006

Beautiful Swallowtail

This was from one of the caterpillars I raised last month.










I reached in and took it out of the enclosure. It flew away moments later. I was amazed at how strongly and how fast it flew.

Late season mantids

I was saving two large females to show the kids at last week's bug safari. I gave this green one a last meal before setting her free.




Look at the colorful mouthparts.



Jerry had found this exquisitely colored (or maybe not-colored) one on a recent walk through the park.


She has pretty bug-lips, too.


This shot looks like she's sticking out her tongue!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Mantis Monday for 10-16-06




This guy is kinda big, (about 10" long), kinda flabby and rubbery, and kinda cute.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Monday, October 09, 2006

Mantis Monday for 10-09-06


This was a picture Michael made for me when he was 6. I used it for the October picture on a family calendar we made back in 1993.


Some bonus mantis pictures, just for the heck of it:

I tend to take pictures of mostly female mantids, because they're bigger and I tend to keep them for a while. I leave the males to fly free and seek mates for themselves. That's what these two were doing the other week, but they made a rest stop at my front porch light.

This guy was hanging around the porch light.

Close up. The males are smaller than the females, so their heads are smaller, but their eyes seem big in proportion to the rest of their face.



There was also this handsome and elegant green male. His legs have little bits of cobweb stuck to them from being on the ceiling of my porch. (And that gross, wrinkly piece of flesh is my hand. sorry.)

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Meanwhile, back in the crepe myrtle tree....


I finally got a semi-decent shot of one of those sharpshooter bugs. (Yes, they're still peeing on me.)




And while I was looking up into the branches, I noticed this skipper. Looks funny from this angle, I think.

Gulf Fritillary butterfly

More than 2 weeks ago, while looking for bugs to adorn a display table at the arboretum, I found a chrysalis of a Gulf Fritillary. There was a butterfly table as well, and the chrysalis went on display there for a day, then came home with me.


It emerged today.





My usual strategy for photographing flying insects is to start farther away, and just keep getting closer and taking more pictures until it flies away. After taking a few pictures on the porch, I carried the butterfly, still clinging to the branch and empty chrysalis-shell, out to a sunny spot in the yard.



I was hoping I could get a shot with its wings spread open, but I got tired of waiting, and I went to do some errands. When I came home, its wings were finally spread, but by the time I got my camera again, it had flown away.

Tiny parasitic wasp

I noticed this tiny wasp laying its eggs inside the eggs of...some other bugs.



Anise Swallowtail caterpillars: parting shots

These shots are actually a couple of weeks old. Maybe I should have put my "blog catchup" bottle back up again. Oh well...

I have enjoyed my Anise Swallowtail caterpillars. They were so plump and colorful.


This one in front looked especially colorful and bright.





And I decided I really like their rubbery-looking prolegs!




Time for a change... notice the prolegs are all kind of tucked in now. Their job is done.



I gave this chrysalis to the little girl across the street. The butterfly should emerge this week, and she can release it. I have two others in my Explorarium and another one clinging to a shelf of the baker's rack on my front porch.

Hopefully, there will be pictures of the butterflies soon.
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