Friday, November 30, 2007

2 mantid abdomen tips compared

(Photos have been "fixed" so you can click and enlarge.)

I took these pictures last week, but I've been sitting on them, because I didn't feel like organizing them. So here. Two females.

(L to R) Stagmomantis californica and Iris oratoria

Same mantids viewed from above.

S. californica ventral view

I. oratoria ventral, showing distinctive abdomen spot (and bonus cute face!)

OK, here's californica's cute face, too.

...and her claws

...and her pretty wings. They made me think of stained glass, so I played with them in Photoshop. You can see the result here.

One more cute iris face.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Ah, nothing like bugs getting into the holiday spirit.

Ugly Overload: Santapede

An orb-web for you

(...and you know who you are)

This was taken in the long-neglected no-man's land of my mother in law's back yard a few years ago. Click on the photo to see it bigger.

Monday, November 26, 2007

8 things about me

Inquiring minds may or may not want to know.

In my 3 years of blogging, I’ve read many a meme, but never been tagged, until today (Thanks, Julie)

Initially, I set out to list 8 happy things about myself. 2 things came to mind quickly:

Happily married for 28 years.

Happy to answer bug questions from friends.

Then I got kind of stuck. Happy things? Hmmm. I looked at Julie’s 8 things, and then I went back to the person that tagged her, and the person who tagged her, (and back a few more iterations) and came to find out that originally this meme was for 8 random things, not happy things.

Well, that made it easier, not needing to limit myself to happy things. So here are 6 random things.

I was born with congenital hip dysplasia, which required me to wear a cumbersome cast as an infant. I was delayed in learning to walk because of it.

I am without a religious faith, neutral if you will, the child of non-practicing Jews, married to a non-practicing Catholic. But I still have a spiritual side. My church is the world, my worship is music, art, nature.

I went on a date with my best friend’s boyfriend once, while she was away on a school trip. He took me for a ride in a helicopter.

I tend to be more sympathetic to animals than I am to people.

I maintain an uneasy relationship with most technology. I managed to make it through the last couple of decades without ever learning how to program a VCR. I always had either my husband or my sons to do it for me. Now we are firmly entrenched in the age of DVD’s, and I don’t know how to work them either.

I feel nostalgic for the 70’s, when I was young and energetic, and life was so much simpler. Only now do I realize how badly I squandered those years.

Now, according to the official rules of the meme, I’m supposed to tag 8 other people. And that’s where I hit another snag. For one thing, I would be hard-pressed to find 8 bloggers who haven’t already been hit up for a meme or 3 already. (I don’t even want to mention that a mere 6 people responded to my recent spider poll...) Then, there’s my general reluctance to perpetuate any kind of “chain-letter” project. What a party pooper I am.

What I will do is invite all who would like to participate to consider yourself tagged.

The rules are simple, if you choose to play by the rules. List 8 random (and/or happy) things about yourself. Tag 8 other people to do the same. Or not.

Oh, and please mention my name. I could use a little publicity.

Hello. Goodbye.

She emerged last night. I didn't know they could do that. Perhaps because I had her indoors and the temperature was warm and stable.

As she curled and uncurled her proboscis, there were also two little "mini-antennas" that also curled and uncurled. Not sure what those were all about. Her regular antennas are hanging down the back of her head.

In the light of day.

Pristine and plush

She had a couple of false starts, fluttering to the grass. I took her up again and offered her an orange. She sat there for over an hour while I did errands. When I released her again, she made her way over the fence and beyond the neighbor's yard, until I lost sight of her.

And she was flying in the general direction of the arboretum.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Well, this just shows how much I (don't) know

I thought the chrysalis looked ready a couple of days ago. But look at it today:

It has to be close now. Just look at the wing. And the eye. And I bet I know when it will emerge. Sometime between 9:00 and 11:00 tomorrow morning. Why? Because I won't be home to see it, of course.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Spider Poll results

Well, my poll closed last night and the results, such as they are, indicate that more people have been seeing fewer orb-web spiders.

More than usual
1 (16%)

About average
1 (16%)

Less than usual
4 (66%)

This was from 6 responders. The few. The loyal. The esoteric.

Thank you for participating. And have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cap'n Crunch earns his stripes

Here he is today, 2 weeks into his healing process.

The back view is still lumpy, bumpy and stripeless. Hopefully it will continue to improve. Also, you may notice there is an eensy little "crunch" to the leading edge of his new shell. Not sure how that happened, exactly, but hopefully it won't set him back too far. He has been using this little tiny plastic flowerpot as a house, but sometimes he wants to wedge himself between the pot and the inside of his container, so I guess I'm going to have to take it out, just to be safe.

I have set up a label for all the Cap'n Crunch posts, so they will be easy to find as a group.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Big head, big butt, wide arms

My remaining wide-arm mantid finally shed her skin this week, about 2 months since the last time. That's a long time. And I think she tripled in size. Still a translucent pale turquoise, she is now a subadult, and her features have become more exaggerated. Next shed she will be an adult, and even more awesome. But for now, well, just take a look.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

My snail is healing!

Those of you who have been following the progress of Cap'n Crunch will be pleased to know that he is showing definite healing progress.

The first two pictures were taken on Tuesday, exactly one week after I found him. He has the beginning of a new shell already. It is dry and hard. Well, maybe hard isn't an accurate word, because I'm sure it's still very thin and brittle. But it's there.

Two days later, this morning, you can already see more changes. The color, brown stripes are becoming more visible. This shot of the back of the snail shows some of the shattered pieces of the original shell that have knit together. There is nothing loose and wiggly any more. Even the last little piece of loose shell that was flipped over backwards seems to have affixed itself to the new shell. Compare these shots to the day I found him, and you can see the difference.

I ended up releasing the companion snail after only a few days. I was worried that it might climb over Cap'n and aggravate his injuries. Also, I wanted to be certain that Cap'n was eating and pooping OK, and I could only be sure about this if he was the only snail in there. (And yes, he's doing both.)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Large Yellow Underwing Moth

For no good reason, I tend to live in a rut most of the time. I stick close to home and the usual routine, the usual places. Yesterday, finally, I ventured somewhere different for a change.

Beneath the spreading branches of the oaks, leaves fluttered to the ground and crunched beneath my feet. Then something fluttered that didn't seem all together leaf-like. It seemed slightly less random in its movement and more self-propelled. And there was a yellow color in it that caught the sun differently than the other leaves. My eyes followed where it came to the ground and I found it, a good-sized moth.

After taking a couple of pictures of it resting with its wings folded, I wanted to try to see the yellow that I knew was underneath. I touched it ever so gently, but that was enough to launch it into the air and up a hill where I couldn't follow. When I got home, I was able to identify it on BugGuide, and get a view of those underwings.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Resting on a cloudy morning

I found this little dragonfly at the arboretum the other day. It was cool and overcast, and he was very still.

He was nice enough to let me get some up close pictures before he worked up the energy to fly away.

Snail advice from the malacologist

I decided to ask a true snail expert what he thought about my snail's chances for survival. Aydin Ă–rstan is a malacologist, a scientist who specializes is mollusks. He also has a blog. Here's what he had to say about my snail:

1. Do snails feel pain? Do insects feel pain? I don’t know. Even if they did when their soft tissues were injured, I don’t think a snail would feel pain when its shell was broken, because the shell isn’t live tissue & the exposed soft tissue is probably OK.

2. There might be some risk of [the snail getting an] infection, but I think the snail can handle that. Make sure the container doesn’t get infected with mites or nematodes.

3. Yes, the snail can & will probably generate its shell. Give it lots of calcium carbonate.

4. You could use bits of shell to cover the exposed parts & the snail may incorporate them into its shell eventually. You can’t glue them onto the soft tissue, however; you would have to glue them to the remaining shell. Make sure the glue is not toxic.

They like to eat lettuce. You can sprinkle powderized limestone on lettuce leaves.

Well, this is definitely more optomistic than I would have guessed. So I guess that means I should give the little feller a name. Of course, the obvious choices would be something like Lucky or Chance, but too many rescued animals have those names already. I've been thinking about a name that points out and pokes fun (in a light-hearted way, of course) at his shell-shattering mishap.

Cap'n Crunch, perhaps?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Latest snail pictures

He's still alive. What a tough little guy!

The first 3 pictures are from last night. A big chunk of shell that was barely hanging on when I found him has now come off. (Actually, I think it was just stuck by a bit of dried mucus, and my frequent water mistings made it let go.) But he was cruising around, and he ate a bit of apple while I was watching.

In this picture, taken just minutes ago, he's resting piggyback on the other snail. I have mixed feelings as to whether I should even have another snail in with him. Apart from the silly, sentimental, and probably unfounded notion that he would be happier with a "friend", I have realized that it's good to have a control subject living under the same conditions to compare its behavior with that of the injured one. I would probably worry that my snail is not very active for much of the time, except that the healthy one isn't really doing much either.

But seeing them on top of each other like this, I worry: what if the healthy one did this to the broken one?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

So far, so good

The snail is still alive. I have done a bit of Googling to try to find out if it's even possible for him to regrow his shell, (not likely) and how long he might survive without a shell, (not long.)

I am just hoping that his primitive mollusk nervous system precludes or at least minimizes any pain for him. If I knew he was suffering, I would euthanize him. For now, I found this page on how to make a pet of a garden snail, and I'm following that for his housing and care.

And, I do know that snails are hermaphrodites, meaning organs of both sexes are present in a single individual, but I don't want to call my snail an "it", so I'm calling it "him". If he survives past a few days, I may give him an actual name.

Snail update

Well, he's still alive this morning. I am misting him frequently, plus the container is very moist inside. Somebody left the kitchen light on all night, so both snails were "asleep" when I got up this morning. I stuck the container in a dim corner of the living room, and now the damaged one is moving around a little.

This is like a little science project. Can a snail regrow so much of its shell? How long will it take? And I think his saving grace was that the whorl-part is still intact and attached, but I'm still not expecting him to survive.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I'm trying to save a snail

I found this poor snail this morning on the patio wall. His shell was crushed and most of it had been lost. Yet his body seemed intact. He was moving. I'm guessing he met with his misfortune on the ground and had crawled up the wall, about 18 inches.

I fixed up a container with moist leaf litter, a bit of broken flower pot to hide under, and some fruit and flowers to eat. Oh, I put another snail in there too, so he wouldn't be alone.

Both snails are up at the top of the container right now, right on the underside of the lid. The damaged one is still alive, although he doesn't seem to be doing very well.

Yet another porch moth

Little leaf hopper

This leaf hopper nymph was on the senna cutting when I was taking pictures of the sulphur chrysalis.

Sulphur Chrysalis update

The chrysalis has been undergoing some subtle color changes over the last couple of days. It no longer looks shiny and new.

This photo is from 2 days ago.

This photo is from this morning. I'm not sure how long it will take before the butterfly comes out, but I have it in a net butterfly pavilion now.

Humpbacked flower sucker

I normally don't give flies a second glance. I find them to be, well...boring. But this little guy caught my attention with his hunchback and his busy little proboscis poking down into the flower.

A quick check of BugGuide gave me an ID: Geron bee-fly.

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