Posts Tagged ‘coccinellids’

Successes and Failures of the Bushtit Hunting Expedition

27 April 2009

We saw plenty of bushtits, heard many more.  But failed our primary objective: locating a nest.  Blame multi-tasking.  The dog had his own agenda, primarily involving ground-squirrels.  And, I kept getting distracted by insects:

We did make some consolation discoveries at least.  Apparently the university is developing a special breed of semi-log horse.  Some limb-allometry project or something.  At least that’s what I heard.

We also managed to see some Killdeer sex so, you know, net plus overall.


9 November 2008

Now that I have your attention: GO HELP BRIAN SWITEK WIN A $10,000 SCHOLARSHIP.  You can get the full scoop from Brian himself over at Laelaps.

After you vote you can reward yourself with an educational video game.

Putting my photos where my mouth is… (I had to move my foot first)

8 January 2008


i’ve finally gotten around to putting a Creative Commons license on my Flickr photos.

Appropriate away!

An Inordinate Fondness, or Can’t We All Just Get Along?

13 August 2007

Male Convergent Ladybird Beetle (Hippodamia convergens) getting frisky with a mating pair of Asian/Harlequin Ladybirds (Harmonia axyridis).

I‘ve received my first online burn over in the comment stream at Laelaps. Well, if not the first, then certainly the most impassioned:


I’m glad you wrote a letter. Good for you! You can write, but did you read anything I wrote? And? Just for the record, once again, I specifically said, at my blog, that I did not believe this particular revision in the evolutionary doctrine was going to prove anything for Christianity or Creation. Please, please I wish you all would stop suggesting that I said otherwise. I was perfectly content to post the article, make a comment or two, and let people draw their own conclusions until Brian linked back to my blog with his smart title, condescending remarks, and until many other started posting their ’science’ at my blog. But at my blog, I can defend it my way. I do wish you would stop mischaracterizing my blog entry.

Honestly, I am a bit confused that I provoked such a passionate responce since I hadn’t directly addressed either Jerry’s original blog post or his comments to Brian’s post. I had noted, by linking to Brian’s original post, that creationist bloggers had picked up the AP story about the Ileret skulls, in my post about the same. I also mentioned my exchange with the AP reporter in a comment which apparently inspired the portion of Jerry’s comment directed at me. Addressing the whole group of Laelaps readers Jerry goes on…

Thanks for all the fun. I leave you all with your rocks, bones, theories, charts, graphs, and unbelief. If I ever want to know about beetles (!) or water or trees or mars or ’science’, I’ll get back with you. If any of you ever need or want to know about Christ, well…you know where my blog is! Happy trails!

I guess that that too is meant as a burn, although I’m not sure what’s so uninteresting/irrelevant about water, trees or Mars (or bones and graphs for that matter). As far as beetles go, as J. B. S. Haldane observed, and Carel has recently reminded us (complete with his stunning beetle vanitas), a fondness for beetles would appear to put me in good company. I am glad that He cranked down the oxygen though, but more on that later.


Larval Asian/Harlequin Ladybirds (Harmonia axyridis) cannibalize a pupa of the same.

I Wasn’t Even Supposed to Be Here Today…

7 August 2007

Yesterday’s bluster, and todays morning gloom sunk temperatures down to an unusually chilly 50 F, and brought egrets to our arid park, cast adult antlions agossamering across the sidewalks, and sent the ladybird larvae into a cannibalistic frenzy. What a great day to teach kids zoology! Check the Flickr roll for highlights.

WMDs In My Garden.

17 July 2007


No, they aren’t the components for a uranium centrifuge. But rather, myriad mustard oil bombs, set to detonate. A new paper from Imperial College outlines how cabbage aphids (Brevicoryne brassicae) mimic the chemical defenses of their plant hosts.

The characteristic spicy tang of mustard family plants (broccoli, cabbage etc.) is, as with many of the flavorful plant compounds we humans seem to enjoy, a toxic chemical weapon. In the case of mustard oil, the toxin is actually created when several precursor chemicals are released as the cells of the plant are being destroyed by the would-be mustard eaters.

Cabbage aphids feeding on brassicas ingest plant compounds and metabolism them into the same precursor chemicals that the plants use to ward off herbivores.  And who are the aphids warding off? Why, our old friends, the ladybirds (among others)…


but, shown here actually eating a black bean aphid (Aphis fabae) less noxious fare perhaps ?

The researchers found that ladybird larva did not survive to adulthood when fed on a diet of wingless cabbage aphids who carried a high volume of sinigrin, one of the chemical precursors to mustard oil. The winged form of the aphids was apparently less toxic, perhaps suggesting a shift in defense strategy from chemical defense to flying escape.

Here’s the abstract. And here’s the Science Daily take. And here’s a nice diagram of the cabbage/turnip aphid forms.

Peace!  oh yeah, and death to aphids!

BBB.1 – The Hedge.

21 April 2007

April 21st (today) marks the start of National Wildlife Week. As part of the festivities, science blogger Jeremy Bruno and others have set up the Blogger Bioblitz.

The BBB is a collaborative effort by science bloggers and other citizen scientists to conduct quasi-comprehensive biological surveys of varying scale and scope in locations across North America. Participants will log species occurance and abundance across a wide range of taxa and all of the data will be compiled into one massive dataset. This Flickr photogroup will display photographs taken during the Blitzes.

I hope to conduct a series of ‘micro-blitzes’ over the week…here’s numero uno:

Date: April 21st, 2007

Time: 11:00 AM PDT

Location: Jerusalem Sage (Phlomis fruticosa) bush in the backyard of Sunwise Co-op, in Village Homes, west Davis, Yolo County, CA. (N38 33.092, W121 46.948)

Conditions: Crappy. Poor light, a thick blanket of high clouds and sporadic sprinkles growing to a sustained light shower.

Tools: Canon Powershot SD400 (property of Jessica Oster), Powell and Hogue California Insects,

Protocol: Shoddy and improvised…I wandered outside with the camera, looking for a reasonable target for a first blitz. I noticed a number of insects on and around the Jerusalem Sage bush in our backyard and decided to do a quick photo-blitz of the bush snapping anything I could find. The survey ended when I had maxed-out photo memory, with only small fraction of the individuals on the bush photographed.


Green Lynx Spider, Peucetia viridans

An arachnid too beautiful to pass up, but from a different piece of phyto estate, an adjacent Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus).


an inordinate fondness…


Harlequin (or Asian) Ladybird, Harmonia axyridis.

The beetle that almost made micrecos famous.

(Above: Adult Below: Larva)



Seven-spotted Ladybird, Coccinella septempunctata.

Convergent Ladybird, Hippodamia convergens.

Props to the local favorite.


Flies? Sure.


Above: Syrphid fly. Below: Calliphorid (blue-bottle?) fly.

Provisional IDs on Flickr, expert opinions appreciated.


Argentine Ant, Linepithema humile.



Not pictured: thrips, honeybees. Worth noting, or not, the fraction of non-native insects on a non-native ornamental shrub.

Coming up…great american birds (mostly) from the west ponds.