Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Nature can be tough

Yesterday, I saw this damaged and possibly dead monarch chrysalis that looked as if the milkweed bug was feeding on it.

Crane fly maggot

I found this big, squirmy crane fly larva in the soil yesterday while I was pulling some weeds. I tried to take still pictures of it, but the darned thing wouldn't hold still. So I tried video mode.

It reminded me of an elephant seal. Or maybe an elephant's trunk. Only much smaller, and yuckier. After I finished filming it, I did what I figured was a practical thing: I fed it to my female wide-arm mantid. I will not post those pictures here, because it was horrible and gross. The maggot practically exploded with dark fluids. The mantid slurped up every drop. *gag* (sorry!)

Click here to see an adult crane fly in a previous post.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Mantis Monday for 2-25-08

Here's a fantastic mantis-themed bento created by Sakurako Kitsa.
Bento is a Japanese lunch, packed in a compartmentalized box. I remember when I worked for Hitachi many years ago, the recently transplanted Japanese employees would bring their neat little divider boxes packed by their dutiful wives with rice in one section and something else, maybe scrambled egg, vegetable, (or something I couldn't quite identify!) in the others. The lunches always looked so nice and, well, orderly.

In the 20-or-so years since I left Hitachi, the whole concept of Bento boxes pretty much dropped from my radar screen. Now, thanks to the miracle of the internet, I have learned that Bento has evolved into an artform. And Sakurako is a master. Just have a look at her Bento set on Flickr. In fact, I almost wasn't sure whether I should post this here on Bug Safari, or on my Art Blog. But it is a mantis after all, and mantids belong right here.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


I just realized it's been over a week since I posted anything here, (although I did post a nice set of pictures of my wide-arm mantid female on Flickr.)The weather has been cool and cloudy/rainy. I haven't really been looking for bugs too much. I do have these 2 things that were under a log in my yard.

A cute little millipede

A big, ugly spider. This a "sowbug killer". Looks to be a pregnant female.

It's not always easy to take a picture of these kinds of bugs that live under logs, rocks, etc. I have to lift the log up with one hand and be ready to take the picture with the other. The bugs usually scurry away pretty quickly once they realize they've been exposed. Earwigs have been especially problematic because they move really fast. I've been trying to get a good picture of a momma earwig and her babies, but they always disperse too fast, and the pictures are always blurry. I'll keep trying though. It'll give you something to look forward to.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Green lacewing

I noticed this little beauty under the porch light, right at my eye level.

Blue, blue belly

I went on a little nature hike this morning with a friend who also happened to be my son's Kindergarten teacher once upon a time. We've had beautiful spring-like weather these last few days. (Heck, it's practically summer-like!) and there were lots of lizards scuttling through the shrubs and around the tree trunks.
This guy was obviously staking out a territory for himself, trying to attract the ladies and intimidating the other males with his puffery and extreme blueness of belly (and chin.) I don't know about everybody else, but I was properly impressed!

Monday, February 04, 2008

She glows

We had sunshine today. I took my little Venus outside for a few photos.

She is still very pale. Luminous.

She looks as if she could glow in the dark. She doesn't, of course, but she definitely glows in the sunlight.

Wingtips and abdomen tip.

Looking back over her shoulder... does she have shoulders? She looks like an alien creature from this angle.

Valentine Candy Bugz

And now another superfluous bug merchandise post. Today's find: Valentine Gummy Bugz. That's Bugz, with a Z. I got these at the drug store to give to the kids in Mrs. W's class.

Package detail

Inside were 22 little packets, each with a Gummy Bug. In addition to the fly above, there were ants, roaches and spiders. Sorry, no mantids (and no snails).

Each of these colorful cardboards splits into 2, and you're supposed to fold them into a little box thingie according to the instructions.

I hate instructions.

But I managed to put one together. Only 21 more to go!

Oh, wait a minute.... these candies are from China. I hope they're safe to eat.

Fuzzy molt

For the past few days, my fuzzy caterpillar was sitting motionless, in preparation to shed. I had been checking it, usually mornings and evenings. Tonight, I saw it had just shed.

Looking at it, the fuzz looks wet. And since I didn't see the process, I wonder: Did the old skin come off, revealing the new hair wet and matted underneath, as if the exoskeleton were a fuzzy bathing cap? Or did each hair have its own "skin". When mantids shed, everything, even the antennas, shed.

The old skin.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Cilnia humeralis adult female

She had her last big shed last night. I wasn't able to photograph her in the act, but here she is today. Our weather was cloudy and cold, so instead of having her illuminated by the sun, I parked her on a branch in front of a sheet of white paper in my garage. Pretty bad, but I'll get better ones up eventually.

And, by request, here's her old skin. This is the ventral view.

Here's a close up of the dorsal view. Hopefully you can see where the skin split right down the back. (Are you squeeming yet, Julie?)
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