Friday, February 20, 2015

A rove beetle visits for a photo shoot and lunch


While out running this morning, I noticed this cool bug on the sidewalk in the park. It's getting to the point where my fitness walk/runs are not compatible with bug-finding, but sometimes I see something that's just too irresistable to pass by. (like that horrible but cool, big squished spider last fall.)

Today it was a rove beetle. I haven't seen a lot of these critters, and never one this big. This first photo is just to show it next to my hand for size.


I could see that it had a good set of jaws on it, so I picked it up carefully in my sleeve-kleenex, (you can tell that I am a woman of a certain age, because I always seem to have kleenex in my pocket or tucked into a sleeve) and wrapped it gently so it couldn't get away. I continued my run, stopping at the next few park trashcans until I found a suitable styrofoam cup I could carry the beetle in for the rest of my run. When I got home, I put it in a larger plastic container and threw a little leaf litter and compost in there to make it feel at home, and so hopefully all the pictures would not just be on a white plastic background.


Rove beetles are characterized by their under-sized elytra (shell). So they definitely don't look like a typical beetle. They live and under rocks and debris, and eat other bugs, as well as decaying plant material.


While I was trying to take its picture, the beetle caught and ate a sowbug that happened to be in with the leaf litter that I put in the container.


It was hard to get a good shot of this black beetle, with its head down, chewing on the sowbug. I was hoping to get a shot of the jaws. This was about as close as I got this time around.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

More info on the monarch situation.

Here's a good article that a friend posted on Facebook.  Has some good information and answers some of the basic questions about the tropical milkweed that is central to this whole issue, and some good advice and resources for those who want to learn more:

http://monarchjointventure.org/news-events/news/qa-about-research-related-to-tropical-milkweed-and-monarch-parasites

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Tropical milkweed is weakening monarch butterfly populations.


A monarch caterpillar feeds on tropical milkweed, Asclepias curassavica.

As well-meaning gardeners have heeded the call and planted lots of milkweed plants to help the monarchs, it turns out that the species of milkweed we have been planting the most has been leading to the proliferation of a parasite that is infecting and weakening these beloved insect ambassadors, and further reducing their populations.



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