Blog Archives

BugShot 2012: Wolf Spiders

I enjoyed BugShot 2012, but didn’t take as much advantage of the setting as I’d hoped. By the time I got to Archbold Biological Station, I was coming down with what turned out to be an upper respiratory infection that would last for several weeks. At the end of each day I mostly just wanted to sleep. Not wanting to totally waste the opportunity, I did venture out for several hours on the final night.

Wolf spiders were everywhere and were easily found by the reflections of their eyes from my headlamp. This lighter colored one was my favorite. read more

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Lynx Spider Guarding Egg Sac

~10mm | January 7, 2012 | Tupaciguara, Minas Gerais, Brazil

On the underside of a leaf, an attractive lynx spider guards her egg sac.

Dorsal view

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Aetalionid

11mm long | July 8, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil

This atypical treehopper belongs not to the family Membracidae, but to a separate family, Aetalionidae.

Searching around on the internet, it seems most photographers generally seem to catch these hoppers while tending their eggs, as shown here.

To learn a bit more about the family check out Ted C. MacRae’s post from earlier this year.

Reference:

500 Insects:
A Visual Reference
by Stephen A. Marshall
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Apterostigma collare

4mm | January 19, 2011 | Armonia Nature Preserve, Limon Province, Costa Rica

I spotted the structure below on the underside of a large leaf. I really didn’t know what it was, and I gently poked at it. It was quite fragile as it turns out, and it fell open to reveal an ant nest. I then immediately regretted not having taken a photo beforehand. The next day I was lucky enough to find another one, also pictured.

6cm x 4cm | Unexpected ant nest

4cm x 2cm | Nest with an ant entering

These nests are the work of an ant in the genus Apterostigma. Ants of Costa Rica has an info page for this genus in Costa Rica. I tried to use the key there to identify these, but it was a bit technical for me. I’m basing the species identification on the statements from the site that seem to indicate that only Apterostigma collare builds these nests under leaves. There are some more photos of nests at that same site. read more

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Amplypygids – Tailless Whip Scorpions

20mm | January 19, 2011 | Armonia Nature Preserve, Limon Province, Costa Rica

These fearsome looking arachnids have an order to themselves, Amblypygi. Though commonly called tailless whip scorpions or whip spiders, they are neither. Intimidating though they may look, they aren’t dangerous and possess no venom. They are quite timid in fact, and I had to take care not to scare them away while photographing them.

Here’s how you might expect to see one actively moving about, with its oversized first pair of legs outstretched.

Longest legs extend outside frame

That first pair of legs is modified for use as antennae. They wave them about, sensing and probing. While the body of this one measured only 2cm, each one of those antenniform legs was 8cm long! read more

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Green and Black Poison Dart Frog

20mm | January 19, 2011 | Armonia Nature Preserve, Limon Province, Costa Rica

Unlike the drab poison dart frog I posted recently, this one lives up to my expectations of having bright warning colors.

Do you notice anything strange about this frog’s back? Take a closer look.

Hitchhiking tadpole

All Costa Rican dendrobatids lay their eggs on the forest floor. Parenting behaviors beyond that vary by species. One or both of the parents care for the eggs, keeping them moist until they hatch (sometimes by the male urinating on them). After hatching the tadpoles are carried by one or both of the parents, sometimes singly, sometimes en masse, to suitable sites to complete their development. read more

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Some Army Ant Observations

January 27, 2010 | Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

That’s the general scene. I encountered these army ants on the side of the trail towards the end of the afternoon. The odd thing is that I didn’t see much more than what’s shown here. There were a couple of holes in the ground, outside the shot above, but roughly in the upper left and lower right. Despite some searching in the nearby vicinity, I didn’t find any other ant trails. But there were ants streaming in and out of the two holes, forming roughly two paths. The bottom path was moving to the right and the top to the left. read more

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Longhorned Beetle Damaging Stem

January 28, 2010 | Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

This longhorned beetle blends in pretty well with these stems.

Some longhorned beetles are known as girdlers and that name might be aptly applied here. See the damage to the stem in the upper right? I didn’t witness it, but I suspect this beetle is responsible. In fact, given the bending of the stem under its head, it may very well have been chewing away when I took this photo. Further evidence is the frass present, indicating it’s been here awhile.

Why girdle? Some beetles that do it deposit an egg in the stem and then effectively kill the stem by chewing a ring into it. The stem beyond the girdle eventually dies and falls to the ground. The stem provides nourishment for the beetle larva and is then well placed for the grub to later escape into the soil where it completes its development. read more

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Paper Wasps and Parasitoids

January 26, 2010 | Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

When I spotted these paper wasps alongside the trail, I only halfheartedly took a few shots. Mostly, I just didn’t think I’d be able to get an attractive photo out of it. So when I was reviewing my shots, I just about deleted all of them, including this one.

At the last second though, I noticed something unusual in the photo. I call these sorts of discoveries where I notice something in the photo that I didn’t realize was there when I took it “easter eggs.” It happens often enough that I just decided to add a new category for that here on my blog. read more

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Treehopper with Eggs

January 26, 2010 | Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

This treehopper appears to have deposited eggs in this twig.  I’m not sure if she’s still ovipositing or perhaps just guarding the eggs.

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