Archive | January, 2014

Entomology Word of the Week

25 Jan

So, my friend Ted MacRae over at the Beetles in the Bush blog, did a fascinating (and by fascinating I mean, very in-depth, “keep your scientific dictionary right beside you”) post on a species of click beetle.   And although I sometimes feel like an imposter while reading his blog, around the scientific words he successfully weaves in excitement about whatever his subject might be (see Beetles) that keeps you coming back for more.

To make a long story short, I have some click beetles of my own at my house.  You probably do too.   We’ve all seen them; those long, black beetles that ‘pop’ whenever you pick them up, in order to escape capture.  But I have also noticed that a click beetle that seemed fine when I picked it up, suddenly has its legs pulled in in the familiar death pose.

And so, this brings me to today’s word, Thanatosis.  

Thanatosis is when an insect plays dead in order to avoid predators.  Many animals do it too — opossums, some species of brown snake, some fish.  Even teenagers sometimes do it when faced with angry parents.  But in the insect world, there are quite a few species that do this.   Some species of beetle, ant, spider (arachnids), grasshopper, damselfy and bee all do it.  I’ve even noticed it in many species of moth.

So, today’s challenge is for you to use ‘thanatosis’ correctly in a conversation.  Let me know how you go in the comments below!

Also, for a great read on click beetles, how they click and thanatosis, visit Ted’s blog HERE.

Praying Mantis loves cars

22 Jan

Movies like Kung Fu Panda really humanize animals and insects.  Of course we all remember Mantis.  The once impatient, hot head who changed his ways after having to sit in a cage for months, thanks to those mean old crocs.

Well, take a look at this video.  It’s a praying mantis who seems very interested in the cars going by.   Is he just attracted by the noise or do you think he’d love to have a go?


Entomology Quiz #2

21 Jan

So, just because I like to keep you all on your toes (and learn some things myself) I decided to create another quiz.  Feel free to keep score and if you get all of them right, I’ll send you your very own tarantula!  (Just kidding, it’s a giant cockroach.)

1. Which statement is true?

a. All bugs are insects

b. All insects are bugs

c. both of the above

d. neither of the above

2. Which insect is considered to have one of the most poisonous bites?

a. Flea

b. Mosquito

c. Harvester ant

d. Assassin bug

3. Which insect mimics the physical appearance of an ant during one of its instars (growth stages)?

a. Katydid

b. Praying mantis

c. Mole cricket

d. Banded cockroach

4. Periodical cicadas live as nymphs underground for

a. 17 years

b. 13 years

c. Both a and b

d. Only b

5. What is one of the strongest insects?

a.  Fire ant

b. Lobster moth

c. Giant stick insect

d. Dung beetle

6. The biggest butterfly in the world, the Queen Alexandra’s birdwing,  has a wingspan of over:

a. 4 inches (10.16 cm)

b. 6 inches (15.24 cm)

c. 1 foot (30.48cm)

d.  2+ feet (60+cm)

7. During the larval stage some caterpillars can eat up to _______ times their own body weight?

a. 1,000

b. 10, 000

c. 22,000

d. 27,000

8. What is a group of dragonflies called?

a. Fetch

b. Swarm

c. Cluster

d. Mob

9. Some cicadas can produce sounds up to:

a. 90 decibels (train whistle)

b. 110 decibels (mower)

c. 115 decibels (Rock concert)

d. 120 decibels (pneumatic riveter)

10. (Last one, not really entomology based.) If you had to hold one of the following, which would you choose and why? (Write in comments below)

a. Giant hissing cockroach


b. Tarantula


c. Giant Weta

weta carrot

d. This scary looking bat



1. a, 2. c, 3. a, 4. c, 5. d, 6. c, 7. d, 8. a, 9. d, 10. Come on, you’re an adult.  No one can make you hold anything!

Hello out there, there, there…

9 Jan

So, I know, it’s been a while.  Look, I am sooooooo not a fan of bloggers who blog and then don’t, and blog and then don’t.  And I honestly never thought I’d go this long without posting but if you must know, I’m a woman of many, many, many interests-too many, if you ask my husband.  Sometimes, others take precedence and right now I happen to be training for my first (tiny, beginner, don’t get too excited for me) triathlon.  And let me tell you that between three children and swimming, running or cycling 5-6 days a week, (oh yeah, there is all that laundry and cleaning and shopping and sleeping) I just could not have been bothered to sit down and post a darn thing.

But here I am.  Because I’m a glutton for punishment…from myself.  What does that make me?

Anyway, I wanted to share a few pictures I’ve taken over the last few weeks-don’t get too excited, I used the iPhone.  But, now that we here in the Land Down Unda are in summer, there are more and more things to find.  I’ll let you know what everything is but I’ll leave the last picture a mystery for another post.  Any guesses?

Just a hole, right?

Just a hole, right?



Well, hi there!

Well, hi there!

I’m guessing (well, hoping)  the above is a Trapdoor Spider.  (Yes, they’re as cool as they sound.) He looks a bit different from the ones I’ve seen so I’m not sure if he’s a juvenile or something else altogether.  There is one that looks sort of like this that I found in the US and is named after the singer Neil Young, true story.  How cool would that be? Find a new species and get to name it after something you love!  My find would be something like, Insecta Wineandpickles.  Anyway, I’ll do more on this guy as I find out more.  Stay tuned!

Blue Eyes Damselfly

Blue Eyes Damselfly

Shield/Stink bug.

Shield/Stink bug.

That Shield bug actually fell out of a tree and into the inside lens of my sunglasses.  My friend I was with remarked how insects were even falling out of the trees for me…they know me too well.

photo (2)

And here’s the mystery insect.  I found this guy near drowning on the side of the kids’ pool.  I wish I had a better picture than this but when he finally came to and started moving, he was quick, and very cooly robotic!  Not smooth movements but a bit punctuated.  His hind legs, as you can see are much longer and when properly standing, sit like a grasshopper’s.  I will tell you this is not related to a grasshopper but I’ll leave the rest up to you to find out…if you can.  Otherwise, look for my post on it.  And yes, I had to ask for help.  I couldn’t figure this guy out, although I did guess the correct type of insect and family.  

So, good luck!  I’ll try to do another post in a couple of days in between reality shows, I mean, naps, no, I mean after my training.  😉