Hogna lenta (or something closely related in the H. lenta species group) – Archbold Biological Station, Florida. These large wolf spiders are easy to spot at night by shining a flashlight off their large eyes, which reflect back a greenish light, much like mammal eyes, despite being completely different physiologically.
What would a lesson from Thomas Shahan be without a super close-up portrait of a spider? I’m stealing Dave Walter’s phrase “Adventures in Spider Misidentification” for this one though. When I took these photos I figured it’d be a cinch to identify this big spider because of those bright red margins on the chelicerae, but apparently that’s a pretty common trait in many wolf spiders (family Lycosidae). Not only that, but there is a huge amount of intra-specific variation in colours and patterns in this species group, making me less than confident in my ID of Hogna lenta.
If you have a better suggestion on the ID of this hairy hunter, please let me know! Here’s another photo that may be more useful for identification purposes.
Hogna lenta wolf spider – Archbold Biological Station, Florida
Green Lynx Spider (Peucetia viridans) — Archbold Biological Station
Still working on flash control, I thought I’d experiment with backlighting after seeing some of Alex Wild’s phenomenal leafcutter ant photos, where the detail in vegetation popped. I only have one off-camera flash however, so I looked around until I found this Green Lynx Spider (Peucetia viridans) sitting nicely while the Florida sun shone brightly in behind, highlighting the leaves like I had hoped. From there, it was a matter of getting the correct combination of shutter speed, aperture and ISO (1/200, f14 & ISO 400 in this case) to allow for the natural light to filter through the leaves, while using diffused flash to expose the spider. I’m not thrilled with the glare above the spider, and the composition isn’t great (it’s pretty heavily centered), but considering the wind was blowing the plant and the spider all over the place, I’m just happy I managed a shot that’s in focus and which somewhat recreates the scene I had envisioned! I’ll certainly be trying this trick again on a calmer day, or with a tripod and plamp around…
You may have noticed the Weekly Flypaper has been missing the past two weekends. I have a good reason for missing one, and a not so good reason for missing the other…
First, the good reason. I took part in the Rouge Park BioBlitz in Toronto, and along with 230+ other naturalists, taxonomists and volunteers, we scoured Rouge Park (soon to be Canada’s first urban National Park) for all signs of life, trying to identify as much as possible in 24 hours. Although the numbers are still coming in, the official species count is already nearing 1,300 species, all sighted or caught in 24 hours (and more than 800 of those were identified within the first 24 hours too)! That is an absolutely amazing number, and sets the bar very high for future BioBlitzes! The Guelph crew had a great time, and I think we contributed almost 100 insect species identifications, including 60+ flies. Lots more came home with us, and we’ll be getting names on them in the near future to be added to the list. The arthropod coordinator, Antonia Guidotti of the Royal Ontario Museum has posted an awesome synopsis of the BioBlitz over at the ROM Blog.
The other reason? I was lazy last weekend and didn’t get around to doing it. Oops.
So with 3 weeks worth of links, and major holidays upcoming in Canada & the USA, I suggest you grab a cold drink, find a comfy spot, and clear your schedule, because the Bugosphere has been busy! Continue reading »
After some not-so-gentle encouragement (ahem, Geek), I finally updated my blog list with all of the new and different blogs to which I subscribe. I can’t link to all of the great content that’s produced by the online entomological community, but I highly recommend giving each of those blogs a look to see what they’re up to!
If you’ve ever wished you could have seen a dragonfly with a 6′ wingspan, Ed Yong explains why birds are partly to blame. Jerky birds ruin everything.
I’m applying for a student fee waiver for this summer’s BugShot Insect Photography Workshop, and spent today putting together my image portfolio. After some ruthless culling and extra time spent with edits, I’ve arrived at 10 photos which I feel best represent my insect photography. Going through my photo library was an enlightening experience, and I’m quite happy with the progress I’ve made since my first attempts at macrophotography 5 years ago. Of course there’s still plenty of room for improvement (hence my hopeful application to learn from the masters), and there are a number of different techniques and ideas I want to play around with, so I don’t see myself running out of subjects or projects anytime soon!
Click the images to view at a larger size (650px long edge).
Long-legged fly (Dolichipodidae) from Ontario
Treehopper (Membracidae) from Ontario
Clusia lateralis, a druid fly (Clusiidae) from Ontario
Dance fly (Empididae) from Ontario
Halictid bee from Ontario
Formica sp. (Formicidae) with aphids from Ontario
Rainieria sp. stilt-legged fly (Micropezidae) from Costa Rica
Spider illuminated from beneath in Ontario
Urophora affinis fruit fly (Tephritidae) from Ontario
Confession time: ticks creep me out. So much so, I can vividly remember the first time I saw a tick, and can still feel the near-instantaneous wave of nausea that swept over me…
It was back in high school when I had my first run in with these eight legged freaks. I was working part time at a vet’s office (I was an aspiring vet for most of my childhood, before I took a close look at flies) when a beautiful golden retriever came in with it’s owner, looking all goofy and happy-go-lucky, as pretty much every golden retriever does. The owner had brought her dog in because she found a tick on it’s back and didn’t want to risk breaking it on removal. Being curious, I came around the counter with the vet to have a look at the tiny arthropod which I’d heard so much about, expecting a small spider-like creature perhaps feeding like a mosquito. What I wasn’t expecting was a FULLY ENGORGED, dime-sized tick just pulling out and wobbling along the dog’s back! The vet picked it up in a tissue and passed it to me while he checked the wound on the dog’s back. Nearly in shock from what I had just seen, I peeked within the tissue to get a closer look and confirm that I wasn’t in a nightmare, and lo and behold, there in my hand was a giant, grey mass of nastiness. I managed to maintain an air of professionalism while I walked back around the counter with the tissue, and waited until the customer and her dog (oblivious to the entire process it seems) left before breaking my poker face with a look of utter disgust and revulsion! With a small portion of my curiosity still intact, I decided I’d squeeze the tick to see what would happen; I should have known better, but I maintain that I was in shock and not thinking clearly. With the slightest touch, the tick exploded like a tomato hit by buckshot, leaving the tissue looking like a scene from Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and proving that my gag reflex was still working!
The Deer Tick - Ixodes scapularis
Of course, with the amount of time I spend in the field during the summer, I’ve come close to these little Hellians from time to time, and have seen them sitting at the tip of long grasses, waving their little legs back and forth awaiting an unknowing victim. Needless to say, I always do a quick tick check upon arriving home, and can fully appreciate Brad Paisley’s desire to keep his lady friend safe after a romantic picnic!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I can feel my skin crawling…
Now that winter has truly set in here in Guelph, I figured I’d escape into the archives and share some photos I took while in Peru and Bolivia on the UofG Field Entomology course in the spring of 2007! This was really my first trip out of Canada and I certainly had a blast! We spent two weeks deep in the Amazon, literally on the border between Peru and Bolivia, in untouched tropical rainforest, with insects, birds and mammals everywhere you look and great food to come back to. Who wouldn’t want to be there!Continue reading »