31 July 2007


Now, I am really excited....see, this is the FIRST butterfly that I've ever had in captivity and held through chrysalis to adult. I've just never taken the time to experiment with it. So, last night when I went into the closet for something and heard a fluttering noise (which actually was a struggling field cricket in a widow's web...), I noticed the butterfly had emerged. I took this one picture before I released it outside. What a neat experience.

UPDATE: August 5,2007 - I forgot to list the species involved here...oops. Cloudless sulphur, Phoebis sennae.


30 July 2007


This guy needs no introduction....

more bugs 'round the yard

So my new digital camera is awesome. I have yet to master all the settings and other cool things it does, but I will say this: the advertised 0.4" marco focus was a mistake on the wepage. Poo-pooh...it's still a good camera! Basically, I was looking for a newer, more powerful digital camera with more megapixels so that I could photograph bugs, amphibians & birds alike. Got it! While this IS a BUG blog....I will post only one picture of a bird here....just for demonstrational purposes.

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.!

What a neat Sat. I had!

I went to Husser, LA on Sat. to drop off my dogs for boarding before a 12 day trip. I realized I was in cattle country and asked the dog folks if they had a neighbor who'd be willing to part to part with some fresh cow poop (from animals that had not been wormed within the last 6 weeks). Well wouldn't you know, there was a fellow right across the road who could help me out.

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?!

- Zack

19 July 2007

Broussard blacklighting 7/18

I ran my preliminary blacklight rig last night in the backyard, only for about an hour. Lots of neat small stuff showed up including two species of tiger beetles (Tetracha carolina) and Cicindela sp., (a dark-gray flying sp.), tons of earwigs, dung beetles and some other small, unidentified scarabs and two moths, one pictured below; a yellow-collared scape moth, Cisseps fulvicollis!

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

Baton Rouge 7/14/07

Here are a few pics from our trip to Baton Rouge yesterday. We got wet but had lots of fun.

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.