Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Huge white lined sphinx caterpillars

I have had my eye on the evening primrose plants all summer. Only tonight did I finally find caterpillars, 2 giant ones living side by side on a single plant. They're the perfect send-off for the last day of summer vacation.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Spike takes a bath

I enlisted Spike's help in trying out Blogger's new video upload feature. I took advantage of the beastly hot temperatures to give her a little fresh air, sunshine, and some much needed water.

She has not been doing very well. She's lethargic and her appetite has diminished. I think old age and cancer is slowly overtaking her. (She has 2 tumors we can see, and I fear there are more inside her body.) Next week I will take her to the vet to see if it's time to send her "over the bridge", as they say in euphemistic pet terminology. I don't want to see her suffer and waste away for weeks or months to come.

About the video: The crackling sounds you hear are not from Spike. It's something in my camera. I noticed the same noise in my video of the silkmoth.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Macro: Pointy-Eyed Mantid

Rachel Drummond likes to take pictures of bugs. Last week she captured a diminutive and elusive ground mantid .

Sunday, August 26, 2007

ET's on my knee

The other day, I upgraded my growing colony of ET's to a new, bigger container, so I took a moment to get them all together for a family photo while I was moving them. Since I took the picture, 2 of these shed their skins, and one more hatched.

Smiling katydid

I swear, one of these day I need to set up a "label" category for smiling bugs.


Green porch moth

This little emerald geometer moth was on my front door last night. I captured it to save for this morning when I could take a picture in the daylight.

Things to see in India

Just making a list, in case I ever go there:

1. Taj Mahal
2. Ganges River
3. Blue and yellow grasshoppers!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Another 1.34 minutes of fame

Last month there was a guy with a camera, shooting video of our Tuesday evening Bug Safari. I typically hate looking at even still photos of myself, and the idea of seeing myself in a video was not something I was looking forward to. On Wednesday, Mark sent me this little clip, and after 2 days of cringing at the very idea, I finally worked up the nerve to look at it.

It's actually kind of cool. Thankfully, there is not too much of me in it!

Thanks to the guy with the camera, Davis Barber.
Oh, and this video has music, so turn on your speakers if you got 'em.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Assorted arboretum bugs from last week

This reclining spider makes a large orb web near the water. I looked it up on BugGuide, and it's a Longjawed Spider, Tetragnatha.

The assassin waits.


A cute grasshopper under a sunflower canopy

Porch moths


Unidentified, but never unappreciated. (at least by me)

Monday, August 20, 2007


Scientist and blogger Aydin Ă–rstan put his finger on the line for this incredible and painful-looking photo of a good bug gone bad.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Another widow

I noticed this spider resting in a plant in my front yard yesterday, and even from this glimpse, I knew she was something different.

I teased her out of her bed with a stick. Her coloration was striking, but there was something about her body shape, that was unmistakeable.

She was a widow. A brown widow. This was the first one I'd ever seen.

I had her on the ground for a minute.

But I did eventually put her back in her web.

I saw her last night, but it was too dark to take a good picture. This morning, I can't find her, but I'll keep an eye out for her. I read that brown widows aren't as poisonous as black ones, and she's so pretty, I don't really want to kill her. (shhh...don't tell Jerry...)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A bunch of baby grasshoppers

This morning, as I set out to water my "totem pole" cactus...

I was surprised to find a bunch of tiny grasshopper hatchlings clustered at the top of it!

These are gray bird nymphs, and the mother shoves her ovipositor down into the earth to lay her eggs. It's my guess that she shoved it into the dry soil of the cactus pot.

A number of the nymphs had made their way to nearby plants as well. Look at this fuzzy little guy!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Black widow: admiration and extermination

Spiders gross me out and fascinate me at the same time. They are at once beautiful and hideous. (Although I do think jumping spiders are cute.) But for the most part, I operate on a live and let live basis when it comes to spiders.

Except for black widows.

Jerry has a strong aversion to spiders in general. And zero tolerance for black widows. So when I find them around the yard, I will kill them. This was the third of 3 sub-adult females I found in less than 24 hours, and the only one I was able to find in broad daylight, so before I killed her, I admired her hideous beauty and took a few pictures.

She had two males in attendance. Here's one where you can see his hourglass. (sort of)

And here is a photo demonstrating my easy "one-step" method for spider extermination.

Yes, the spider is under my shoe. I did take a picture of it after I moved my foot, but elected not to post it. You'll have to take my word for it. Be assured that this method of extermination is instantaneous and therefore painless. I should be so lucky when my time comes.

A grasshopper named Hamish

A cute blue-eyed grasshopper has gotten his 15 minutes of fame on Confessions of a Pioneer Woman. (Her previous post featured spiders.)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Am I blue?

She almost looks blue, doesn't she? Light turquoise, maybe?

Still beautiful, still luminous. You can see the beginning of the roundness to the top of the head that is typical of this species. This will become more pronounced as she grows.

(Is she really a she? I'm not sure, but I'm calling her the female because she is larger than the other one, who I'm calling the male. I won't be able to tell for sure until their sexual features become more apparent as they grow.)

The smaller one has turned a kind of copper-color.

"This is a yummy fly!"

Monarch caterpillar diary, cut short

Yesterday was day 3 for my little caterpillar. I didn't take a picture, because it was too late, and too windy for a teeny tiny close-up. This morning I checked on it bright and early, and was pleased to see that my little caterpillar appeared to be shedding its skin.

The little black thing you see is the exoskeleton of the head.

Unfortunately, something went wrong. Hours passed and the moult had failed to progress. He was dead in his old skin.

So this caterpillar diary has come to a sad and sudden end. Nature is tough sometimes.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Monarch caterpillar diary

I had the idea recently to buy a milkweed plant and try to raise a monarch caterpillar. At the arboretum, even though we seem to have monarch butterflies all year long, I rarely see the caterpillars in the summer time. I believe this is because the wasps snatch them up. So I decided to put a milkweed plant in a "pavillion" where it would be protected, and raise a caterpillar in there.

This is an egg that I collected several days ago in the arboretum. Yesterday morning, it had darkened a little inside. I decided to keep checking on it.

An hour later, it had already hatched.

Here I have placed it on the plant, (apparently next to an aphid or something.)

Day 2: The caterpillar has actually grown a bit. Its head doesn't look as oversized now the body is catching up, I suppose. And you can see the beginning of body stripes.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Longhorn beetle photo shoot

This small beetle was on my kitchen window screen last night. I saved it till this morning to take a picture in the daylight.

Possibly Anelaphus species.
I never really used to care about the scientific names of bugs, until I started visiting and posting to BugGuide. I still would prefer to just say, "Look at this cool beetle I found," but at the same time, I feel a responsibility to provide more information, or at least do a little research on it.

And, hey, who knew these things had hair?

What's eating my Christmas cactus?

I saw these little droppings on my porch and I thought I had termites.

There were some fresher looking ones in my Christmas cactus. I used a broom handle to probe the ceiling of the porch. No droppings fell, and nothing looked termite-damaged.

Further inspection of the cactus revealed something was damaging it.

I found a couple of these small larvae. They wiggled and flailed themselves excessively when I tried to collect them. I actually stepped on one of them by accident before I had a chance to take a picture. After a bit of wrangling, I managed to take a picture of this one, then I went to prepare a container to keep it in, the better to observe its metamorphosis. By the time I got back with a little jar a few moments later, the larva had flipped itself onto the tile, only I didn't realize that until after I'd stepped on it. Dang! So I don't know what they would have turned into. And my plant no longer seems to be infested.

Not bug-related, but still Christmas cactus related: Usually this plant only blooms in late fall/early winter, but I had a few renegade flowers that bloomed in the spring. One of them actually set fruit. First time I've ever seen that on this plant.
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