Posts Tagged ‘insects’


14 September 2011

Deep in some dream last night, I flip a rock and reveal an isopod the size of a silver dollar. Excited I snatch her up to show somebody, I cannot say who, but as I walk the crustacean ebbs to standard lilliputian proportions. Or maybe it’s my hands that are growing.

This all sounds pretty Jungian, or maybe worse, and I suppose soil is the great collective unconscious of terrestrial ecosystems (huh?)

But I guess I’m just a little haunted for not making more of International Rock-Flipping Day 2011.

I did get the chance to turn a few stones. As it happened, some of the same stones as when I first observed the holiday four years ago. Not surprisingly, more or less the same crowd turned up. Minus a weevil, plus a planarian.

Here I count representatives of no fewer than six independent invasions of land, not even counting the plants or fungi — nor the vertebrates which, apart from myself largely didn’t show. Hunkered beneath the twenty million-year-old fossilized shell of a bivalve, one clade that never made it out of the water in any respectable way. Sort of crazy.

Totally forgot the most important part:

The Under-celebrated Jumping Gall Cinema of Yolo County

15 August 2010

Those ones aren’t even moving.”

“It does seem a little long.”

“You’re reusing clips. I think you need more footage to justify the length.”

Honestly.  Every one, the critic.

Friday afternoon, a simple dream:

Take the many several aggregate minutes of jumping gall video I’ve lately been obsessively collecting–crouched over the sidewalk, eye, iphone, hand lens–the bikes and joggers bending around my operation full of wonder–shooting–to gather these up against a Sun Ra soundtrack.

Missed by most, the oak-shaded sidewalks of the lower Sacramento Valley are alive for a few weeks in August with animated sesame seeds, pop the earbuds, shut your trap, and you can actually hear them crackling.  It sounds, maybe, like a light rain in the searing summer heat or a pot just about to boil, but actually it doesn’t really sound like either of these it sounds like jumping galls: thousands of little cynipid wasplets wrapped in jackets of tumorous oak leaf cells hopping around like crazy.  What are they doing?  It’s not clear that anyone really knows for sure.

You have to pay attention to this sort of shit, or otherwise you are, frankly, wholly lost.

Note that nothing is sped up there.  These girls move fast.

Here would be the place to mention Kinsey and parasitoids and the rest, but it’s 20 minutes past my bedtime.

Incidentally, neither of those versions of “Rocket Number Nine” were the one I was imagining, I of course was thinking of the frenetic schizoid Space is the Place version:

Seriously though.  With a budget of $0, what did you expect?


18 April 2010

Over at his new digs on Science Blogs, Alex Wild gives a simple solution for getting decent macro shots with an iphone. I won’t give away the secret but it involves Snell’s law.  Moments after reading the post I stepped outside to try my luck…

Bat Macumba, Hey.

3 February 2010

First it was the oral sex.  Then with the boozing.

Now they’re joining gangs?

Someone has got to put a stop to this madness….

Yet another cool bat paper in PLoS today:

Dechmann DKN, Kranstauber B, Gibbs D, Wikelski M, 2010 Group Hunting—A Reason for Sociality in Molossid Bats?. PLoS ONE 5(2): e9012.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009012

I want to make a scansion joke here, but I’ve got nothing.  Here’s this instead:

1 Word Wednesday

20 January 2010

The word of the day is, “bogus” :

“If there is one color that is most decidedly not a classic Earth tone, one that is least associated with living things, it might just be neon blue.”  – Carol Kaesuk Yoon “Luminous 3-D Jungle Is a Biologist’s DreamNew York Times January 18, 2010

See also: Glaucus and Porpita, Blue Morpho, Sailfish, Blue-tailed Skink, William’s Electric Blue Gecko, a whole mess of Cichlids, Hyacinth Macaw, oh yeah and whatever the hell this is supposed to be.

Likewise, (watch to the end if you haven’t seen this before):

Looking like a fool with your bats on the ground

19 January 2010

Another gem from the Oakland Museum of California for this week’s Taxidermy Tuesday.  Despite the throw-away titular joke, this display is actually a clever illustration of the unusual foraging behavior of the Pallid Bat (Antrozous pallidus).  Like most insectivorous bats, the Pallid Bat can capture prey in flight.  But because it often feeds on large terrestrial arthropods, like this Jerusalem Cricket that is about to get done et up, the Pallid Bat frequently captures its prey on the ground and then carries it back to a roost to eat.  Some other bats have adopted similar secondarily terrestrial habits, most notably the New Zealand bats in the genus Mystacina.

Hehe, titular.

Damsels in Eustress

23 December 2009

Together, by Jan Zajc - borrowed from Myrmecos

Two of my favorite blogs struck a peculiar resonance today.  Alex Wild has posted his favorite insect photos (plus a spider) of 2009.  All of them are very good and some, such as Jan Zajc’s photo of mating damsel flies shown above, are nearly as spectacular as some of Alex’s own work.  Meanwhile, BibliOdyssey has a selection of plates from August Johann Rösel von Rosenhof’s ‘Insecten-Belustigung’ (Insect Amusements) published serially from 1746 to 1761.

Insectorum aquatilium Classis II V.2

I can’t decide if I’m more impressesed with the amazing scenes captured by today’s best macro photographers or by the work of pre-photography nature artists like Rösel von Rosenhof who explored the same territory with paint, ink and paper.  I suppose it is the insects that impress me the most.

Oh yeah, and “eustress” is a real word.  Look it up.