Biochemical Soul Musings on Nature, Science, Evolution, Biology, and Education

18Apr/09Off

Nature Walk #4.1 – Arthropods

Spring is Here!

Days like these remind me what I love so much about the South...warm Springs exploding with life.

This edition of my series of Nature Walks is a big one. I took all of the following images over the past few days - some on my lunch break, some at the NIEHS campus, some at home, and some simply next to the road on my daily commute. So perhaps "Nature Walk" is a misnomer for this edition, but it suffices. Even while staring at the lake through my windows at work I am walking nature in my mind (unless I'm sectioning brains).

I've broken this post up into four parts due to the large number of images:

The images are highly compressed for bandwidth's sake, but you can click on the images for larger versions (and a few are much deserving of an extra click).

As always feel free to give me any species identifications where I have failed to do so or done so incorrectly.

Arthropods

The first thing I'd like to note is that if you haven't visited Bugguide.net before, you should check it out.  It is an utterly indispensable online reference for everything arthropod. I almost never fail to identify insects using it (and it has quite a few experts and educated amateur entomologists always willing to help in identification).

My wife walked into the house white-faced a couple of days ago. She had gone into my shed for a tool.  This is what she saw:

Dolomedes tenebrosus spider

Dolomedes tenebrosus spider

Dolomedes tenebrosus spider

"Go ahead - touch me - I dare you"

Dolomedes tenebrosus spider

Dolomedes tenebrosus spider

It's a Dolomedes tenebrosus spider. She's a lovely beast. She keeps my shed relatively bug-free.

I saw this next spider at the pond back behind my property today. It's a Six-Spotted Fishing Spider (Dolomedes triton). Interestingly, I learned that it is of the same genus as the monster above, though they are massively different in size, color, habit, and habitat. They both belong to the family of Fishing Spiders (though the first one does not live on water).

Dolomedes triton spider

Dolomedes triton spider

Dolomedes triton spider

Dolomedes triton spider

While turning over some leaves, I found this brilliantly colored orb-weaver, (I believe it's a Marbled Orbweaver (Araneus marmoreus)).

Marbled Orbweaver (Araneus marmoreus)

Marbled Orbweaver (Araneus marmoreus)

At lunch I struggled to capture an image of this stunning beauty of a Coleopteran. It would sit still as I focused, then dart about a foot forward in a blink - I would move, refocus - rinse and repeat... It's a Six-Spotted Tiger Beetle (Cicindela sexguttata). What luck! Two different species with "Six-spotted" in the common name (the beetle and the spider above).

Spotted Tiger Beetle (Cicindela sexguttata)

Spotted Tiger Beetle (Cicindela sexguttata)

Spotted Tiger Beetle (Cicindela sexguttata)

Spotted Tiger Beetle (Cicindela sexguttata)

Of course, the Azaleas are in full bloom at the homestead, and are of course covered in bees, flies, and butterflies.

Here's a Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus).

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Next is the Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica). I know they are carpenter bees because they drill into my wood-paneled house. This is followed by hungry red-bellied woodpeckers drilling into said wood to retrieve the hymenopteran snacks.  This is followed by me patching and repainting the woodpeckers' hack job. It's a semi-circle of life.

(Note: If you haven't seen it, you must check out my story from earlier today: The Carpenter Bee and Her Mate: A Heartwarming (and Dissapointing) Tale of Rescue.

Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica)

Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica)

A bee (Anthophila (Apoidea) - Bees) of unknown identity (I couldn't even peg it to a family - help please? It was about half the size of the carpenter bees.

Unknown Bee

Unknown Bee

And some Ants (Formicidae) on a flower. I didn't even realize they were there until I checked out the image on my computer.  It was a tiny flower.

Unknown Ants

Unknown Ants

Finally, I found a nice specimen of what I believe is a Carolina Mantis (Stagmomantis carolina) ootheca (egg case).

Carolina Mantis (Stagmomantis carolina)

Carolina Mantis (Stagmomantis carolina)

Carolina Mantis (Stagmomantis carolina)

Carolina Mantis (Stagmomantis carolina)

See the rest of this Nature Walk:


Comments (5) Trackbacks (2)
  1. I love the six-spotted tiger beetle…it is so beautiful! Did you see the NY Times photo special on beetle armor? If you didn’t you should check it out, it was great.

    Oh, and perhaps give a warning next time if you are posting spider pics….Christie may be afraid of moths, but I am arachnophobic!

  2. Awesome “nature walk” I love the mantis case especially!!
    We are starting to have nice weather here, but end of semester crunch is keeping me in. Arggggggggghh!

  3. I think you’re mistaken about the last one. It’s clearly a member of Ischnochitonidae.

    • Hmmm…a polyplacophora? on a piece of pine bark?

      I know from you’re blog that you are hilarious – so perhaps you jest? I really can’t tell :)

      Actually, I know for sure it’s a mantid ootheca (and only somewhat sure it’s the Carolina mantis – though it could easily be a different species). The reason I know is that my old zoology/ecology professor at Hendrix College (Dr. Matt Moran) is an avid entomologist, specializeing in mantid predator/prey relationships. I took several courses with him (and even took an awesome Spring Break trip to Big Bend with him). So I’ve seen quite a few mantid ootheca.

      Here are some images of Ischnochitonidae from the Encyclopedia of Life. I had never actually heard of this group of polyplacophora. I also didn’t know that polyplacophora are molluscs (I don’t know much about ocean critters). So I’m glad you brought it up. Learned something new.

      MIDGETS!

      (you have to read jeffthefish’s recent post to get the joke)

  4. You flatter me! I was indeed joking. Until recently I volunteered at the Seattle Aquarium, and I see chitons everywhere. I found a site about west coast chitons and tried to find the group that best resembled your photo, but really, they all *kind* of look like that but mostly don’t. I kind of just chose at random. :-)

    And geez, yeah, MIDGETS. Oh boy.