And the cicadas return…check out this great post on The Two-Way from NPR about RadioLab’s quest to track the emergence!
Posts Tagged ‘Latin names’
They’re crazy and hairy and they’ve received a lot of press lately in the news and the blogosphere… ANTS! These ones, Nylanderia pubens, seem to be quite a nuisance to those living in the southern parts of the United States. They’re, well, crazy, and hairy.
As you can see in the video above, they move very quickly and can deliver a nasty bite. They exhibit super colony characteristics (like the Argentine ant), meaning they are not aggressive toward other colonies. If there’s a silver lining this the dark cloud, it’s that they may outcompete fireants. Oh yeah, and they tend membracids!
The best part about an online magazine, is that they send you emails only if you want them. And in the case of Saveur, I get tasty recipes to try on a regular basis. Last week, a number of recipes for a Summer Vegetarian Feast filled my email inbox. One was a delicious leek and zucchini galette, combining great flavor and seasonality.
There are leeks growing alongside my onions in some fields. Some of the growers I work with have a few different Allium species growing including garlic and leek. These crops could be subject to leek moth infestation, but leek moth is currently only known in certain areas of New York and Canada (in North America). An invasive species from Europe, leek moth, Acrolepiopsis assectella, is a small, brown to black moth with yellow-green caterpillars. The pupae are small cocoons with a distinct lacy casing.
Leek moth damage include mining and perforations in the leaf, with window-paning damage where the caterpillar has not eaten all the way through all layers of the leaf tissue.
While there are no chemical treatments yet in New York, cultural treatments such as crop rotation, row covers, and removing vegetative debris at the end of the season are recommended. In Canada, a parasitoid wasp Diadromus pulchellus was released as a biological control agent as part of an integrated pest management approach to control leek moth. Perhaps that may be an option for leek moth control here as well.
Until last weekend, I had never seen a firefly (except for the television show by Joss Whedon). Geographic location, time of year, weather, all these things had simply not aligned to allow me to experience the magical wonder of a firefly show.
Fireflies, or lightning bugs, are not actually flies or true bugs. They’re actually beetles in the family Lampyridae. This looks like the little critter that I caught over the weekend, as fireworks were flying overhead. In unprepared entomologist fashion, I stuck it in an empty Mentos gum container since I didn’t have a vial. You could see the glow through the plastic even though it wasn’t see through.
The glow, or bioluminescence, is the result of a chemical reaction in the abdomen of the beetle. The color can vary along a spectrum from yellow to green to pale red. Both males and females flash in a call and response type of mate selection. Species specific flash patterns and durations allow females to distinguish their gentlemen callers and respond only to their species. In the case of Photuris species however, females mimic another species response to lure the males as prey. The poor little guys, I’m sure they thought everything was just shiny.
Last week I went on a field trip to visit some orchards and we found one of these guys.
The “Eyed Click Beetle” or Alaus oculatus is in the family Elateridae. The common name of this groups is from the clicking mechanism that beetles use as a defense or to simply right themselves. See the video below!
My niece has a doll with a bonnet. It looks like it’s wearing a helmet. So she named it Baby Helmet. It turns out, that these guys have helmets too.
This is a treehopper, in the family Membracidae. This species is the Thorn Treehopper, Umbonia crassicornis, found in the Southern United States. The helmet is the pretty green, yellow, and pink structure that creates the thorn-like appearance. A recent article published in Nature found that the helmet is an appendage arising from the first thoracic segment. Somehow it’s “escaped” the repressive function of the gene that leads to wing formation. It’s almost as if treehoppers had a third pair of wings. But not quite, they’re just wing-like. They’re fused together, not used for flight, practical for mimicry, and in my opinion, make treehoppers look really cute. Bug Girl has a great explanation of homology and summary of the article if you’re looking for more.