03 November 2007
We took another trip over to Austin: Oct 27th - Nov 2nd. While there we hiked: Enchanted Rock, Wild Basin, Mayfield Park and Commons Ford Ranch Park. I caught my first wild Phanaeus and Pasimachus and Emma and I held a small Tarantula. Here are some photos:
15 October 2007
16 August 2007
11 August 2007
(above) bumble bee sp.
(above) great blue skimmer, Libellula vibrans
Ok, so the Phanaeus vindex wasn't just walking through the yard. This one was staged...
07 August 2007
03 August 2007
31 July 2007
UPDATE: August 5,2007 - I forgot to list the species involved here...oops. Cloudless sulphur, Phoebis sennae.
30 July 2007
Well, the first picture isn't of a bug afterall anyway! This stunning female black-and-yellow argiope, Argiope aurantia, was found at the UL Experimental Farm in Cade by my Dad, who also took some pictures of it (see http://www.rrikbeck.com/ for further details).
Above is a false bombardier beetle, Galerita bicolor that came into my light rig this past Saturday night. The rig...which is almost complete, has been named Optimus Prime. There were surprisingly good numbers of bugs given the crummy weather. Also of note was this (insert identification here, Zack) moth:
The last two images will include a young Tricolored Heron (NOT bug) at the UL Farm and a moth sp., identified as xxx by Vernon Brou...thanks for the i.d.!
Oh, I forgot that some who read this might being asking WHY?! We are due to get some Phanaeus vindex in mid-August. So, I thought before my trip I should get and freeze some food for these future Insectarium critters.
I got the poop, and while so doing explained to my benefactor how pretty the beetle in question is and that I had never encountered one in the field myself. As I left, this fellow asked if I wanted anything from New Mexico, and I mentioned velvet ants. He of course said he sees them regularly on his property. I drive off and not 60 seconds later get a velvet ant that I spot crawling along the road.
Then, I was back at the dog boarder's and took time to swipe up some calico pennants. When I got the 3rd one, from grass about 6 inches high, there was something else in my aerial net - a major male Phanaeus vindex! How incredibly cool was that?!
19 July 2007
Some of you may be wondering why I referred to my blacklight rig as "preliminary". After adding my brand-spanking new 2' blacklight(thanks to my lovely wife Ellen!), the final component will be my mercury vapor light, and then "Optimus Prime" will be complete!
15 July 2007
10 July 2007
Widows have always been my favorite spiders. I enjoy keeping several North American species, such as the southern, L. mactans pictured above. Widow spiders are all in the genus Latrodectus and all possess a varying degree of neurotoxic venom. While the venom of this spider has been somewhat exaggerated over the years, still caution must be used around them. Another common misconception is that the female always kills and consumes her mate. While this doubtlessly happens on occasion, it is certainly the exception to the rule. Cannibalism happens in more spider species than this, and so should we call all of them widows? Of course not.... Widows are also called comb-footed spiders. This is due to the stiff hairs at the tips of the fourth pair of legs, used to cast their strong silk around their prey items.
The picture below shows a female southern widow with her eggsac. The eggsacs in most widows are round or pear-shaped, and have a paper-like texture. The exception to this would be the brown widow, L. geometricus, pictured under the below image. Their eggsacs are covered in spiny-like rods.
Brown widows occur in most tropical areas of the world, and have become established in the United States along the Gulf Coast, from south Texas to Florida. Louisiana, Mississippi & Alabama are recent additions to the brown widow's range. They are much more tolerant of human activities, and are often found near dwellings, at gas stations or in front of stores. Brown widows can be fairly variable in color as well. Note the shade of brown in the above individual, and compare it to the individual below. Both were collected in front of the same strip mall in Lafayette, LA.
02 May 2007
26 March 2007
24 March 2007
Steven and I decided to do some last-minute insect collecting on Wed. March 21. It was late by the time we made it to Washington and finally managed to get setup. We kind of figured that it would be too early in the season to catch anything good, but we were in for a surprise. Steven was collecting fiery searchers, and from the time the bulbs warmed up, until the time we unplugged, we were catching searchers! We could have continued to catch them, but we figured we had enough for one outing. We also saw a male luna moth, and some sort of longhorn beetle. Looks like it could turn out to be a great year for insects!
23 March 2007
Michael and I took a last-minute trip to the farm on Wed night. They were heading back to Florida the next day, and I wanted to get some collecting time in before he left.
It was getting dark and we were in such a rush that I broke one of my 18" Blacklight bulbs while loading the car. I think it was about 9:00 before we made it out of the driveway.
Now, this is the month of March, and neither of us expected to see much of anything. In my haste I forgot the clips I use to attach the sheet to the poles and forgot containers! We arrived rather late and scrambled to setup in the dark. We lit one black light and my MV rig and pretty soon we had company. We quickly found many C. scrutator, a few C. calidum, two giant water bugs and a big luna moth. We also had tons of June beetles and a fly that seemed to be a wasp mimic.
We had a great time (despite feeling like crud the next day at work) and plan to do this again soon. It looks like it will be a good collecting year.
12 March 2007
Yesterday we went to the farm. We saw a few butterflies, some dragonflies, a Belostoma and a few caterpillars. The main point of interest was that the tigers were in full flight.
**Update: 3/14/07 **
I saw my first "June Beetle" last night
23 February 2007
Dynastes hercules MALE x Dynastes granti FEMALE HYBRID
21 February 2007
11 February 2007
We ventured out to "The Farm" yesterday. It was very cold and there was not much at all moving about. We did see a Leopard Frog and a few diving beetles, but that was about it.
Although, not an indication of spring, I was surprised by this hatchling today:
Let's all go collecting soon.....