Saturday, January 31, 2009


Those tadpole eggs I found the other week didn't do very well. Only 2 of them hatched. The rest just sort of decomposed. So far, I have not seen both tadpoles at the same time. I don't know if I'm seeing each one separately, or if one has died.

Freshly hatched monarch caterpillars

I have one little milkweed plant at home, and the butterflies have found it. There are several tiny caterpillars on it now.

Porch moth and millipede

I had a couple of nice little porch moths this week, but it turns out I've already posted pictures of this kind already. However, since I'm usually zoomed way in for them, this time I took it from a little further away so you can see the size of the moth relative to my doorbell.

And how about a porch millipede?

A slug eating a snail shell?

One night last week, Jerry accidently stepped on a snail on our front walkway, and killed it. The next day, I noticed a slug on top of what was left of it, eating it.

Actually, it looked as if it had just finished eating the shell. The slug seemed to be cleaning up where the snail's innards connected to the last bit of shell. Once the shell was gone, the slug stopped eating.

I had never seen a slug eat a snail shell before. I tried taking a stray bit of shell and offered it to another slug that was passing by, but he wasn't interested.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A few of the S-creatures that came out last night

It rained lightly all day yesterday. By last night, it had let up a little, and I noticed lots of creatures roaming about my yard. When I mentioned this to my family, Michael asked what I had seen, and I said "snails, slugs, spiders and salamanders". Everything with an S!

I usually don't bother trying to take pictures at night. It's just too dark and hard to focus. But with the help of a headlamp*, I was able to get a few semi-decent shots.

A trio of pea-sized snails on my front steps. Something looks suspiciously squishy there, too.

Just a nice big snail.

A long skinny slug, over by the trash cans.

One of several decollate snails I saw cruising around.

Spider on the garage. His brother was on the back porch.

I saw 3 salamanders out roaming around. This looked like a yearling with a stubby tail that is starting to regrow.

Another one on the sidewalk.

*Jerry bought himself one of these last year. Although it is intended for outdoor uses in camping, caving, etc., he has used it numerous times for things like working under the kitchen sink, fixing his truck in the driveway at night, and finding his way through the tangled maze of wires and cables under his desk. I have used it a few times myself, especially to find bugs and stuff at night. We have enjoyed it so much, we got one for my dad, and it has also come in handy for him a few times, (and not for camping, either!)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pacific tree frog eggs

I had a free morning, and I decided that the unseasonably warm weather in combination with the recent full moon warranted a small explore for local tadpole prospects.

The creek along the nether regions of the park was choked with leaves from our recent winds, but I still found 2 tiny clusters of Pacific tree frog eggs, each on a fallen sycamore leaf stem.

I brought home some living and decaying plant matter from the stream. I set up a little "tadpolarium" with some rainwater I'd been saving for just such an occasion. I'll keep the eggs in their collecting container for another day or two and then put them in. They will be hatching in just a few days, and in a week or so, they will be distributed to interested local teachers.

Are you up for this, Mrs. W.?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

More bug misinformation on the interwebs

I have previously expressed my irritation at bug-related misinformation being spread by people who should know better. (you can revisit those old posts here and here.)

There is apparently another chain of lies being forged against the the strange but interesting cochineal bug. This time, Bug Girl of Bug Girl's Blog is trying to shine a light of truth on this particular rumor, and she has asked others to link to her post, the better to help dispell the needless fear and ignorance.

So there you go. Just doing my part to help promote education and awareness.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Beach bugs, etc.

We had another enjoyable afternoon of minus tide beach-going. I found this rock-dwelling isopod just inside the wet zone.

A few miscellaneous shots:

A delicate little branch

A dolphin(!)

There were lots of colorful bits of plastic that had washed ashore. Colorful, but sad when you think about how much of this stuff is out there in the ocean, and it's killing so many fish and birds who are eating it.

I rescued this ladybug from the sand at the edge of the wet zone. I wanted to bring it to safety, but I didn't want to walk all the way back to where the plants were, so I stuck her on my hat and she stayed there for over an hour as I beachcombed. I kept asking my family, "is the ladybug still on my hat?" and they always said yes. As we climbed the hill to go back to the parking lot, I found a mallow plant that already had some ladybugs on it, so I figured it would be a good place to release her. I wanted to take a picture of her on the plant, but she disappeared to quickly. I guess I'm lucky she stayed still on my hat as long as she did.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Mr. and Mrs. Fuzzybottom

When I was sweeping in the patio this morning, I accidentally disturbed a pair of spiders. They looked interesting, so I ran in and got my camera.

The female had a big, fuzzy abdomen with a subtle pattern you can see better in the top photo.

The male was skinnier, but still fuzzy.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Window bug belly shot

This shield bug was on my window the other day, giving me a nice view of its underside. (Don't mind the window dirt.)

The dark line you see running from its head to between its legs is the mouth, a modified sucking "beak" that pokes down into plants to suck out the juices. Some other true bugs use their mouthparts to suck out the juices of other bugs.

Who's in charge?

These are box elder bugs, mating. The male is the smaller of the two. Lucky him, he gets to have sex, but the female gets to decide where the couple will go, while they are mating!

Under the arboretum's box elder and flame trees, many of these female bugs are taking charge, and dragging their hubbys around by the tail!

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