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The Isle of Man

27 Sep

Every once in a while I decide to look through my blog stats. I like to see what search terms were used to find the blog (I use this info for future posts), how people find me (i.e. search engines, facebook, etc.), and where the traffic is coming from, as in country.

Recently, I had a hit from The Isle of Man. Some (or a lot) of you may know where that is, but I had never even heard of it. So, I decided to do some research on it.


Yep, that little red circled island is it. Here’s what wikipedia tells us about this tiny isle:

“The Isle of Man, otherwise known simply as Mann, is a self-governing British Crown dependency located in the Irish Sea between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who holds the title of Lord of Mann. The Lord of Mann is represented by a Lieutenant Governor, but its foreign relations and defence are the responsibility of the British Government.”

So then I thought I’d look up what insects were known to be on The Isle of Man. There weren’t too many out-of-the-ordinary ones, but I did find one that is definitely worth a mention. (Plus, it happens to be a part of one of my top four favourite orders of insects…Orthoptera. (Katydids, grasshoppers, and crickets.)

Meet the Speckled bush-cricket (Leptophyes punctatissima).


Photo cred:

And perhaps the most intriguing thing about these creatures, and I’m sure the reason for their common name, is the look of the nymphs of this species. How amazing is this?

Now, Im not sure why someone on Mann happened to cross paths with my little blog, but it sure was interesting getting to know more about it, and its lovely inhabitants.

So, what were they?

14 Sep
Goliath Stick insect

Goliath Stick insect

Australia’s largest Phasmid (leaf/stick insect), this baby can top out at 25cm (9+ inches!).  The females are larger than the males and although they have wings, they’re not very useful, unlike the males. Perhaps the coolest fact about these creatures is that the female doesn’t even need a male to have babies; a type of reproduction called Parthenogenesis (from the Greek parthenos, meaning ‘virgin’ and genesis, meaning ‘birth’.)  All eggs, however, will hatch into female clones of the mother, whereas if she were to mate with a male, the offspring can be male or female.

Mole cricket

Mole cricket

So, although when I first saw one of these I thought it was in fact my worst nightmare…it is simply a mole cricket.  In the same family as your average cricket, this guy looks more like an alien cousin.  And if you can actually get past its creepiness and hold one (which I have) you’ll be simply delighted to find out that those strong little paws (more like hands, if you ask me) are quite strong and they will persist in trying to dig free. Or they may just give you a quick little (harmless) bite. Fun.

African Cave spider

African Cave spider

Okay, I admit, even being a spider-lover, this guy could easily be categorized under ‘Worst Nightmare’.  Even more so when you watch Fear Factor and people actually had to eat them…alive.  Not enough money in the world…

eating spider

Anyway, this African Cave dweller can range from 7.6-60 cm (that’s 3-23.6 inches) in size and its pedipalps (one of the second pair of appendages near the mouth of a spider or other arachnid that are modified for various reproductive,predatory, or sensory functions. – act like those of a mantis and help them to grab and hold onto prey.  But here’s the clincher-they don’t have any venomous fangs and are harmless to humans.  Which is why people do this…


Next, is this little anomaly…

So, here’s what I’ve discovered on this little guy; it may or may not be a leafhopper, it may or may not be a shield bug.  Nymph? Adult? The site I found this on had no further information and when I went to research it, I couldn’t find much.  So, this will be one for either my insect friends to help on (wink, wink) or I’ll have to put in some late nights at the library.

To be continued…

Now, I know most of you will think that this is a totally Photoshopped image of a spider but how do you know spiders don’t have great teeth close up?  The answer to this one is, clearly, the look my friends give me when I say I like spiders.

What is it?

13 Sep

So, this time I decided to do a multiple What is it? post.  Trust me when I say that there are many strange and wondrous creatures out there and here are just a few.



Photo credit:


a. My worst nightmare

b. Goliath Stick insect

c. Amazonian tree grasshopper

Photo credit:

Photo credit:


a. Mole cricket

b. My worst nightmare

c. Burrowing Southern cockroach


a. Belthar’s Dark scorpion

b. African Cave spider

c. My worst nightmare

Photo credit:

Photo credit:


a. A pumpkin seed

b. A leafhopper

c. Early instar (development stage) of a grasshopper


a. My mother when I told her I was moving out.

b. Totally photoshopped image of jumping spider

c. The look my friend gives me when I say I love spiders

Crazy Camouflage

8 Sep

Lots of insects and animals are skilled at camouflage but this Spiny Leaf insect (Extatasoma titarum) has taken his disguise to another level.

Can you spot it?

spiny leaf lichen

Spiny Leaf insect on lichen.

Photo credit:

Quiz answers and bug nerd shout outs

14 Aug

So what were your answers?

















The answers are as follows:

1. F, 2. H, 3. B, 4. G, 5. A, 6. E, 7. C, 8. D

1. Bird-dropping (Death’s head) spider

2. Ladybug (beetle) larvae

3. Rhinoceros beetle larvae

4. Mountain katydid

5. Pollen and nectar feeding katydid

6. Whip spider

7. Early instar of an owfly

8. Giant huntsman on my face

Okay, so maybe you were only able to get #8…I did put it in there for a freebie.  (And in case you think I’m completely crazy, you should know that the huntsman was dead…so I’m only half crazy.)

And don’t feel bad, I did not know 1-7 myself before researching them.  But that’s the fun, isn’t it?

We had a couple of people guess all of them correctly, so a special WE shout out to Marc at entomacrographic and to Drhoz.

**Be sure to click on the above links (1-8) to find out more about the featured creatures.**

(All photos property of Lisa Vankula-Donovan unless otherwise stated.)

Strange Insects — Quiz

11 Aug

Every once in a while, I’ve come across something that just baffles me. (I mean besides why they don’t put more jam in jam doughnuts.) But, without having a background in anything related to entomology, it’s sometimes a challenge to figure out what it is.  See, those experienced in the field can look at a number of things to at least narrow it down to an order.  I’m getting better at it but, as you’ll see, some are just plain confusing.  (But, if you’re a follower of the blog, these might not be that hard 😉 )

Can you guess what is what?









Now, match these letters up to the picture you think belongs with it.

A. Pollen and nectar feeding katydid

B. Rhinoceros beetle larvae

C. Early instar of an owl fly

D. Giant huntsman on my face

E. Whip spider

F. Bird-dropping (Death’s head) spider

G. Mountain Katydid

H. Lady bug (beetle) larvae

Post your answers in the comments below or on Facebook.  Answers will be revealed in tomorrow’s post.  I will announce the person(s) that got the most correct.

*All photos property of Lisa Vankula-Donovan unless otherwise stated.**

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.  😉