Blog Archives

Caterpillar

30mm | July 9, 2011 | Tupaciguara, Minas Gerais, Brazil

I might not have noticed this caterpillar during the day, but after dark it stood out in the light of my headlamp.

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Termites at Work

July 9, 2011 | Tupaciguara, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Just after dark, termites started emerging from below ground. Here they appear to be excavating. The darker soil has been brought up from below by workers while guards form a defensive perimeter.

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Soldier Fly

11mm | July 9, 2011 | Tupaciguara, Minas Gerais, Brazil

The wing venation, patterned eyes, and even the horns on the scutellum suggest this is a soldier fly in the family Stratiomyidae. Many soldier flies bear a resemblance to wasps. This one kind of reminds me of a yellowjacket.

Reference:

Diptera of Costa Rica and the New World tropicsby Manuel A. Zumbado and Fernando Zeledón
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Crypsis Challenge #13 Reveal: Jumping Stick

82mm | July 9, 2011 | Tupaciguara, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Were you able to find the critter in the photo above? It’s in the lower right corner. Some of you may recognize this as another stick grasshopper in the family Proscopiidae, previously featured in Crypsis Challenge #3. They are so cryptic that I couldn’t resist doing another challenge with this one. Here’s an outline of the grasshopper if you’re still not seeing it.

Grasshopper revealed

Check out how closely the color and texture of the insect matches that of the surrounding vegetation.

Can you distinguish animal from plant here?

Here’s another image where it’s blending in fairly well. read more

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Green Huntsman Spider

9mm body | July 9, 2011 | Tupaciguara, Minas Gerais, Brazil

This attractive green huntsman spider in the family Sparassidae (formerly Heteropodidae) was concealed beneath a leaf. With such a striking green color, it must hunt primarily in foliage.

When I found it, it was concealed within a silken retreat on the underside of a leaf. The texture of the silk is interesting.

Concealed within silken retreat

That wouldn’t do for photos though, so I poked at it until it removed itself.

Reluctantly exposed

That did allow for some nice closeup shots though, like this one of the eyes. I always try to get a shot like this to help in the identification. read more

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Crypsis Challenge #13

July 9, 2011 | Tupaciguara, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Time for another crypsis challenge. Can you spot the critter hidden in this scene?

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Doomed Caterpillar

25mm | July 9, 2011 | Tupaciguara, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Despite its defenses, this caterpillars appears to have ended up with some parasite eggs, a tachinid fly perhaps.

Closer look at parasite eggs

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Fruit Fly

8mm | July 9, 2011 | Tupaciguara, Minas Gerais, Brazil

I start with low expectations whenever I try to identify a fly. I’m happy if I get to family, but I think I got as far as genus on this one. This female fruit fly in the family Tephritidae might be an Anastrepha species.

Reference:

Diptera of Costa Rica and the New World tropicsby Manuel A. Zumbado and Fernando Zeledón
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Crooked Jaw Termites

5-10mm | July 3, 2011 | Tupaciguara, Minas Gerais, Brazil

As promised in my last post, here are some termites where the soldiers are much larger than the workers. Large is relative though, since although they are twice the size of the workers, these soldiers still only measure one centimeter.

Soldiers are twice the size of workers

Based on Hogue’s Latin American Insects and subsequent web searches, I believe these are termites in the genus Neocapritermes, which he refers to in an illustration as crooked jaw termites. The name certainly fits. My first thoughts after seeing one of these soldiers was that it was deformed. read more

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Nasutitermes Termites

2-3mm | July 3, 2011 | Tupaciguara, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Previously, I showed you some termites where the soldiers and workers were about the same size. Here, the soldier (at top) is actually smaller. Termites in the subfamily Nasutitermitinae, like these, have soldiers called nasutes. Nasutes don’t need to be big because they don’t rely on strength. Instead, they have specialized snouts for spraying a defensive substance.

In some species the substance is sticky and serves to disable or slow down small predators, like ants. In others the substance is noxious and repellent. read more

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