Tree Sharpening Caterpillars

November 2nd, 2013 - 4:38 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | 1 Comment
~30mm long | January 5, 2013 | Panga Ecological Reserve, Minas Gerais, Brazil

~30mm long | January 5, 2013 | Panga Ecological Reserve, Minas Gerais, Brazil

What appears to be a flower here is actually a group of caterpillars working their way down a sapling trunk.

They look like they could do a decent job sharpening a pencil, about the same width as this tree(?) trunk.

Side view | Trunk ~5mm wide

Side view | Trunk ~5mm wide

Despite the black background, this was taken a few hours before sunset. At the time there was probably a few feet of the trunk left. I marked the location and returned after dark. I found no trace of the trunk or the caterpillars. They apparently ate the whole tree.

I know there are defoliating caterpillars. I know there are wood boring caterpillars. I never imagined there are caterpillars that consume an entire tree though. That’s assuming they eat leaves, which I didn’t observe.

Lichen Moth Caterpillar

February 20th, 2012 - 8:09 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | No comments

10mm long | July 8, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil

This cryptically colored little caterpillar reminds me of lichen moth larvae I’ve seen closer to home (Family Arctiidae, subfamily Lithosiinae). If so, it’s in the right place!

Tortricid Moth

February 19th, 2012 - 7:41 AM | Filed under Featured Photos | No comments

8mm long | July 8, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Whenever I see a moth shaped like this, I assume it’s a tortricid. Probably not a bad guess, considering Tortricidae is one of the largest familes of Lepidoptera.

Resting Spider

February 18th, 2012 - 6:38 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | No comments

5mm long body | July 8, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Resting with its legs held together on the edge of a leaf, this spider quickly grew tired of me. After a few shots, it slipped to the underside of the leaf.

Dorsal view

I think this is a crab spider in the family Thomisidae, perhaps a Tmarus species.

More Ants and Scales

February 17th, 2012 - 5:45 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | 2 Comments

5mm long | July 8, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Besides the turtle ants, there was one other type of ant crawling around in the same area. They were quite aggressive, often taking a threatening stance with their gaster turned down and under their body. The one above seems to be saying, “Back! This scale is mine”. The scale above, by the way, differs from the ones I posted about earlier.

Forager?

The ants above were fairly active. The one below, however, never moved from the spot I found it. While I assume it’s the same species, it has a slightly different body build. Note, for example, how much wider the head is. Maybe it’s a soldier?

Soldier?

Side view

Shield Bug, Taking Flight

February 16th, 2012 - 5:15 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | 1 Comment

22mm long | July 8, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil

This shield bug caught caught my eye mostly based on its relatively large size. What made the pursuit worthwhile though was accidentally catching it as it took flight. I enjoy getting to see some parts of the anatomy that are generally hidden.

Wings outstretched

Foraging Turtle Ants

February 15th, 2012 - 5:42 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | 1 Comment

4mm long | July 8, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil

I spotted these turtle ants (Cephalotes sp.) crawling around on vegetation, occasionally stopping to solicit honeydew from scale insects. I’ve been somewhat enamored with these ants ever since seeing some of Alex Wild’s photos, particular the specialized nest guarding soldiers. Sadly, despite watching the workers, I’ve yet to successfully find a nest for an opportunity to photograph one.

I’ll have to satisfy myself with the foragers for now.

Dorsal view

Here’s another one taking honeydew from a scale insect.

Feeding from scale insect

Scale Insects

February 14th, 2012 - 5:55 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | 1 Comment

5mm long | July 8, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil

I probably wouldn’t have noticed these scale insects were it not for the ants that would occasionally stop to feed from them.

Its difficult to see in the first photo, but each one has 20 or so waxy threads spiraling away from the body. It’s not clear to me where exactly they’re coming from. The threads are a bit easier to see in the next few photos.

Waxy corkscrew shaped filaments radiate out from the body

I wonder if the spirals don’t help the ants to locate the scale.

The scales excrete honeydew from a small orange tube (to the left above, right below).

Side view

Here’s what might be an immature form of these scale insects. The tube where honeydew is excreted is easier to spot here.

Immature scale? | ~2mm

And finally, here’s an ant soliciting honeydew from that same small scale.

Ant (~4mm) soliciting honeydew

I’ll separately post more photos of the ants.

Jumping Spider with Hooked Chelicerae

February 13th, 2012 - 8:20 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | 1 Comment

5mm body | July 8, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil

This attractive male jumping spider has some interesting hooks on his chelicerae. Take a closer look at this crop from the image above.

Hooked chelicerae

He really has a lot going on colorwise as well. I imagine those banded front legs might be used in some sort of courtship ritual. One has to wonder if and when those hooks come into play though.

Dorsal view

 

Micromoth

February 12th, 2012 - 7:12 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | 3 Comments

July 8, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil