This is the CRAZIEST Thing You’ll See All Day

vampyrefangs:

Another reblog from the very talented Bug Enthusiast!

grasshopper-skin(It looks to me that the little red ant is taking a big bite from the grasshopper’s tush!)

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Originally posted on The Bug Enthusiast:

Have you ever literally watched a bug shed its exoskeleton? No? Me either. This guy did.

A bright green grasshopper emerges from its old skin, leaving a perfect replica of itself behindThe Daily Mail wrote about a really, really patient man in Indonesia who watched a grasshopper molt out of its skin, leaving a perfectly-shaped grasshopper exoskeleton behind. Not only are the pictures incredibly done but…have you ever seen anything like this?! Click through for all the pictures.

And seriously, what’s up with that ant?

Photo credit goes to (the very talented) Adhi Prayoga.

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Bat-Eating Spiders on the Prowl

vampyrefangs:

Great article by The Bug Enthusiast on two of my most favouritest critters… spiders and bats.

But… why can’t they all just get along? :(

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Originally posted on The Bug Enthusiast:

Credit: Photo by Carol S.K. Liu from AFCD Hong Kong, China

Credit: Photo by Carol S.K. Liu from AFCD Hong Kong, China

As if spiders weren’t terrifying enough, they’re now widely eating bats. Like, all over the place.

Previously thought to happen very rarely, researchers have recently recorded over 52 cases of bats (albeit small ones) being eaten whole by massive, massive spiders. The species of bats and spiders involved vary from case to case but it does seem to happen more in tropical climates.

In most cases it seems the spiders don’t intend to catch the bats, they simply build their super-sticky webs next to bat-infested buildings. Still, little consolation if you’re the bat.

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Fruit Flies Drink Away Their Bitterness

Rejected Male Fruit Flies Turn to Alcohol

This is something I ran into at Cracked.com (one of the funniest websites EVER)!

It’s all about sex and booze and fruit flies.

fruitfly(Set ‘em up, Joe!)

For many of us, failed relationships and alcohol go together like New Year’s Eve and also alcohol. That’s one of the pressures of being human; we have our big brains and big emotions, and we need big containers of liquor to forget the bad feelings they churn up. But surprisingly, humans aren’t the only creatures that do this.

Since fruit flies are very sexual beings in the first place, researchers wanted to find out what would happen when they were sexually rejected. This happens often with them, because female fruit flies are prudish things, as they don’t like having sex a second time after they’ve recently mated. If a second male tries to mount her, she’ll kick and run away, as you can see in the video below. Because hey, Mama fruit fly didn’t raise no ho.

After the flies had their time with the female, the researchers gave both males who had been rejected and those who’d gotten lucky the option of eating normal food or food spiked with alcohol. While the happy fruit flies had no preference for either option, the rejected fruit flies were significantly more likely to eat the alcohol-infused food.

And yes, at a basic level, it’s for the same reason you do it. Alcohol triggers reward chemicals in fruit fly brains, and when they don’t get that satisfaction from sex, they’ll get it from a bottle. Or a huge meal of alcohol-soaked food, in this case. And, with that, we’re going to estimate that it will be 48 hours before some depressed college kid tries to eat a pizza he has soaked in gin.

radiohead-songs(“And now, I’m gonna play all the Radiohead songs I know at the same time.”)

Thanks again to that gang of zany madcaps over at Cracked.com!

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Reblog: SURPRISE!!

The last evening of Bug Shot 2012, I was in the “toy room” helping clean up.  I had set up an aquarium for photographing aquatic insects the first night and hadn’t put it away, so I scooped everything out of it and was about to pick it up and dump the water out when I saw this clinging to the outside:

curve-lined-owlet-caterpillar

What a crazy cool caterpillar!  I believe it is a curve-lined owlet caterpillar, Phyprosopus callitrichoides.  It comes as no surprise that this is a woodland species.  Can you imagine how hard it would be to see one of these on a tree?!  I happily snapped a few shots, then I took it outside before I finished my cleaning.

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Reblogged from C.L. Goforth’s amazing blog The Dragonfly Woman

Now THAT’S Camouflage!

Thanks and a tip of the vampyre lid to C.L. Goforth (aka The Dragonfly Woman) for bringing this to our attention. See how long it takes you before you see the spider in this photo!

It’s winter, and I now live in a place where it actually gets rather cold at night. That unfortunately means that I don’t have my usual access to mid-winter insects and I can no longer make you all jealous that we still have bugs out and about.  But, I do have a nice stockpile of shots I took at BugShot 2012 that I haven’t shared yet!  While I anxiously await spring and the return of pretty flowers and insects to photograph, I bring you bugs and other arthropods from Florida!

Every time I look through my BugShot photos, I see new creatures I didn’t realize I’d photographed.  For example, I took this photo thinking I was photographing a group of flowers.  Somehow, I completely missed the giant yellow crab spider:

yellow-crab-spider-on-flowers

It was dark out, but wow!  For such a big spider, it sure did blend in well!

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11 Unbelievable Microscopic Images!!

PopSci.com once again fails to disappoint!

11 Unbelievable Microscopic Images From Nikon’s 2012 Small World Competition

Every year, Nikon’s Small World contest rounds up the best in microscopic images, taken by scientists and artists alike. Here are our 11 favorites from this year.

Ants (Image: Geir Drange, Borgen, Norway. Magnified: 2.5x)

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Woolflower (Image: Christina Zimmerman, Oakland, California. Magnified: 4x)

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Garlic [1]

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Butterfly eggs (Image: David Millard, Austin, Texas. Magnified: 6x)

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House Spider (Image: Harold Taylor, Kensworth, Dunstable, UK. Magnified: 30x)

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Zebra Fish Embryo [2]

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Drosophilia larva gut [3]

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Fruitfly Larva (Image: Dr. Andrew Woolley, Purdue University. West Lafayette, Indiana)

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The Mineral Cacoxenite [4]

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Embryonic Mouse Limb [5]

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Fruit Fly Retina [6]

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[1] Image: Dr. Somayeh Naghiloo, University of Tabriz , Department of Plant Biology, Faculty of Natural Sciences. Tabriz, Iran

[2] Image: Dr. Jennifer Peters & Dr. Michael Taylor, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Memphis, Tennessee, Magnified 20x

[3] Image: Jessica Von Stetina, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. Cambridge, Massachusetts. Magnified: 25x

[4] Image:  Honorio Cócera, University of Valencia. Valencia, Spain. Magnified: 18x

[5] Image: A. Kelsey Lewis, University of Utah, Department of Human Genetics. Salt Lake City, Utah. Magnified: 10x.

[6] Image: Dr. W. Ryan Williamson, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). Ashburn, Virginia.

Fossil with 100-million-year-old Spider Attacking a Wasp Discovered

An astonishing amber resin fossil of a 100-million-year-old spider about to dine on a wasp, according to an October 8 Discovery report, which still contains 15 intact strands of spider silk, is the first fossilized evidence of this type of attack. It was excavated in a Burmese mine and dates back to the Early Cretaceous, between 97 million and 110 million years ago.

Can you imagine the Early Cretaceous period spider crawling along its web to eat the wasp when tree resin falls on the scene, freezing that moment in time to be discovered 100 million years later? It’s quite mind boggling.

(Fossil with 100-million-year-old spider attacking wasp discovered) [1]

Oregon State zoology professor George Poinar, Jr. said,

“This juvenile spider was going to make a meal out of a tiny parasitic wasp, but never quite got to it. This was a male wasp that suddenly found itself trapped in a spider web. This was the wasp’s worst nightmare, and it never ended. The wasp was watching the spider just as it was about to be attacked, when tree resin flowed over and captured both of them.”

Now the pair has been trapped for 100 million years in this nightmare. Thankfully they were both dead, so they likely had no sense of time passing. Both the 100-million-year-old spider and wasp belonged to now extinct groups, which isn’t surprising given how much time has passed.

It is truly strange to see this snapshot from so long ago. Amazingly, there are likely similar scenarios playing out between spiders and wasps every single day even now, 100 million years later.

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[1] Credits: George Poinar, Jr. and Ron Buckley

Noisy Sex Can Mean Death If Bats Are Listening!

This definitely falls into the “Yew just cain’t make this stuff up” category…

Bats Use the Sound of Copulating Flies as a Cue for Foraging

Yes, those intrepid geeks and nerdlings over at ScienceDaily.com have really come up with the goods this time!

Mating activities are a dangerous business because the attention to other important events in the surroundings is often reduced. Therefore the duration of copulation itself is usually very short. About 100 years ago researchers argued that copulating animals are at a higher risk of being discovered and, consequently, being eaten by a predator. Yet, surprisingly, there are only few observations that support this hypothesis. These examples comprise studies in water-living insects, such as amphipods and water striders, and also in land insects, as investigated in a recent study in Australian plague locusts that are at a higher risk of being eaten as mating pairs compared to single animals.

(A pair of Natterer’s bats. [Credit: © Stefan Greif/MPI for Ornithology])

Apart from decreased attention, a reduced flight response as well as an enhanced conspicuousness induces a higher risk for these winged lovers to be easy prey. Stefan Greif from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, and colleagues, have now provided experimental proof for this phenomenon. In a community of house flies and Natterer’s bats in a cowshed near Marburg, Germany, they analysed videotapes of the movements of almost 9000 flies. The researchers found that the flies rarely fly at night and mostly sit or run on the ceiling. Finding the flies by echolocation is nearly impossible for the bats as the faint insect echo is completely masked by the strong background echo which makes them virtually “invisible.”

(Natterer’s bats eavesdropping on loud fly sex!)

This scenario completely changes when the male flies find a suitable mating partner. The subsequent copulation is a noisy event because males then produce broadband buzzing sounds that can be heard by the bats. Around five per cent of the fly pairs that engage in copulation were attacked and mostly eaten by the bats (across four observation years, even 26 per cent of the observed copulating pairs were attacked).

(Honey? Do you have the feeling someone’s listening in on us??)

In order to provide evidence that it is really the sound that makes the flies detectable for the bats, the researchers mounted dead, noiseless fly pairs on the shed ceiling in a position they usually take during copulation. These exhibits provide a larger reflection area for echolocation of the bats compared to a single fly. However, they were never attacked by the bats. Only when the researchers played back the copulation sounds of the flies, did the bats try to attack the loudspeakers. Accordingly Stefan Greif summarizes the results of the study in a simplistic way: “sex kills.”

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World’s Tiniest Fly May Decapitate Ants, Live in Their Heads

Just when you thought parasitic insects couldn’t get more gross…

The entomology geeks and nerdlings over at LiveScience.com give us more fodder for our nightmares!

In a recent article, LiveScience staff writer Jennifer Welsh reports that a new fly discovered in Thailand is the world’s smallest. It is five times smaller than a fruit fly and tinier than a grain of salt (0.4 millimeters) in length — half the size of the smallest “no see-ums.” [1]

(Just how small is it the world’s smallest fly? I am glad you asked!)

It probably also feeds on tiny ants, likely decapitating them and using their head casings as its home.

“It’s so small you can barely see it with the naked eye on a microscope slide. It’s smaller than a flake of pepper,” said Brian Brown, of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, who identified the fly as a new species. “The housefly looks like a Godzilla fly beside it.”

The tiny finding is detailed in the July 2012 issue of the journal Annals of the Entomological Society of America.

Picked up by the Thailand Inventory Group for Entomological Research in Kaeng Krachan National Park, the tiny fly is the first of its kind discovered in Asia. The researchers named the new fly Euryplatea nanaknihali.

(Euryplatea nanaknihali, left; decapitated ant, lower right)

The flies lay their eggs in the body of the ant; the eggs develop and migrate to the ant’s head where they feed on the huge muscles used to open and close the ant’s mouthparts. They eventually devour the ant’s brain as well, causing it to wander aimlessly for two weeks. The head then falls off after the fly larva dissolve the membrane that keeps it attached.

The fly then takes up residence in the decapitated ant head for another two weeks, before hatching out as a full-grown adult.

I don’t know about you but I have enough nightmare material to last me the whole weekend!

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[1] While this is the world’s smallest fly, it is by no means the world’s smallest insect. That title belongs a species of fairy wasp, coming in at 0.14 millimeters in length, about the size of a human egg cell