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Subjects Mites and Ticks : Nature Closeups

Pelecinid Wasp

November 1st, 2010 - 6:31 PM | Filed under Easter Eggs, Featured Photos | 1 Comment

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

Wasps in the family Pelecinidae are distinctive and easily recognized by that long thin abdomen. I’ve see them closer to home as well, but I can’t recall if I’ve ever gotten a decent photo. I do remember chasing after quite a few in vain or watching as one teased me from someplace just out of reach. I got lucky with this one.

What I thought was a red marking turns out to be a small mite.

There’s only one genus, Pelecinus, for this family. There appears to be at least two described species in the tropics.

That long abdomen is used for ovipositing in the soil. Females probe for and oviposit on scarab beetle larvae.

Reference: Wikipedia

Tick Anatomy Lesson

October 25th, 2010 - 6:42 PM | Filed under Easter Eggs, Featured Photos | No comments

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

This tick is one of the largest I’ve ever encountered. I’m happy to say it was the only one I saw.

Ticks often wave around their forelegs while perched like this, hoping to grab on to some passing potential host.

When viewed from the side, there’s an interesting bit of anatomy exposed.

Side view (do you see the smaller mite bringing up the rear?)

I wondered about the purpose of that large hole on the tick’s side so I did some research. It’s called the spiracular plate, and it’s basically a tube into the tick’s breathing system. Calling it breathing might be a stretch though. It’s really more of a passive gas exchange. The shape of spiracular plates are also used by taxonomists as a way of distinguishing various types of ticks.

Based on the large overall size and the shape of the mouthparts, I suspect this is a species in the genus Amblyomma.