Scarab Grub Locomotion (Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday)

Hey everyone!  Long time no see again – been really busy at work and long hours have been preventing my blogging.  However, wanted to share this video I took last weekend after my coworker brought in a scarab beetle larva she found outside.  I set it on my desk, turned my back on it for a minute, and when I went back to take a closer look it was gone!  We looked around for it and found it speeding across the floor like this:

It’s crawling UPSIDE DOWN!!!  Super crazy cool.  Our hypothesis: it’s so huge and fat that the little legs aren’t strong enough to drag that massive body along, so it uses this “backstroke” sort of approach instead.

Yep, nature is cool.  And a little gross.  But mostly cool.

Going to try to get a post up on Friday!!  I have a huge backlog of stuff I want to post, so here’s hoping I’ll have a chance to get one of them online this week…

_______________

Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Blacklighting (Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday)

Know what makes for a good Wednesday evening?  This:

Blacklighting

Blacklighting

First “blacklighting” night of the year!  (I’m using the quotes because we only had a mercury vapor light and no blacklights.) A bunch of my coworkers and several interns got together to see what comes to Prairie Ridge and it was a blast, right up until a nasty storm blew in and we all had to scatter.  Here’s to many more blacklighting adventures this year!

_______________

Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Swarm Sunday: 3/29/2015 – 4/4/2015

Dragonfly Swarm Project logo

 

Not surprisingly, given how early in the year it still is, there weren’t very many swarms reported last week:

USA:

Daytona Beach, FL
Lakeland, FL

And here is the US map:

 

3.29.15 to 4.4.15

Red pins are static swarms, yellow pins are migratory. Click the map to enlarge.

I am not used to getting US reports this early in the year, so it’s exciting to see something different!  I hope I will keep getting reports of dragonflies over the next few months, though this little flurry of activity may stop before the main season resumes in June as usual.  Regardless, this is a great way to start the season and I can’t wait to see what else happens this year!

_______________

Have you seen a dragonfly swarm? I am tracking swarms so I can learn more about this interesting behavior.  If you see one, I’d love to hear from you!  Please visit my Report a Dragonfly Swarm page to fill out the official report form.  It only takes a few minutes! Thanks!

_______________

Want more information? Visit my dragonfly swarm information page for my entire collection of posts about dragonfly swarms!

_______________

Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

First Dragonflies and Damselflies of 2015 (Friday 5)

I’ve been looking forward to starting dragonfly programs at work again this year, so I’ve been trekking down to the pond occasionally to check on the dragonfly situation there.  I saw my first common green darner on March 24, which is pretty early.  When I went to check up on them yesterday, I saw 5 species!!  And you know what that means: it’s time for Friday 5!  Here’s what I saw:

Common Green Darner

darner in cattails

Now this photo is truly terrible, but I couldn’t get my camera to respond as quickly as I’d like.  I challenge you to find the dragonfly in this photo at all!  However, there IS a common green darner in the photo, and it was one of six at the pond.  I saw two pairs mating, so 4 males and two females.  I suspect these are migrant green darners.  The nymphs in the pond are all still too small to be emerging and it’s been too cold for too long for me to expect them to be coming from our pond this early.  Between that and the fact that I’ve been hearing reports of big migratory and static darner swarms in Florida, I think that these are green darners stopping over on their way north for the summer.

Blue Corporal

blue corporal

 

These dragonflies come out very early relative to other dragonflies and I tend to see very, very young individuals on the rare occasions that I see them at all.  This is a photo from last year as the photo I took yesterday didn’t turn out at all, but it was nearly identical in appearance.  I find these when they fly, almost drunkenly, from an area near the pond to the grassy hill beside the pond and crash into the grass.  For whatever reason, nearly every blue corporal I’ve ever seen has been freshly emerged and its wings have hardened just enough for it to fly badly a very short distance.  The wings will darken a bit more and become a little less glossy once they finish hardening.  The body will also change colors and the abdomen will expand some as well.  This dragonfly had probably been an adult for an hour, so brand spanking new!

Common Whitetail

common whitetail

This photo is from last year too because I only caught a quick glimpse of a pair of common whitetails in tandem, zooming off over the prairie and they never came back.  I got just enough of a look at them to know that they were whitetails for sure, but definitely didn’t have time to get the camera pointed at them before they disappeared.  These are some of our earliest dragonflies each year, and one of the last to disappear in the fall.  If I had to pick a dragonfly to represent Prairie Ridge, it would be the whitetails as they are far and away the most commonly spotted dragonflies throughout the season.

Fragile Forktail

fragile forktail

This has been the earliest damselfly I’ve seen the last few years, and it was the first I saw this year too.  They are easy to tell from other forktails at the pond by the exclamation mark shaped pattern on the thorax, clearly visible in this photo.  They also tend to be smaller than a lot of the other damselflies you might see flying with them, though this one was quite a bit larger than the average fragile forktail I’ve encountered.  If you look closely, you’ll see that this one was in the process of eating a small insect when I snapped this photo.

Unknown Damselfly

No photo at all for this one!  I saw one blue and black damselfly fly past and then promptly lost sight of it against the grass.  I’d bet it was an Enallagma species of some sort, knowing what we have on the grounds and the coloration of the insect, but who knows which one.  Definitely didn’t get a good look at this one…

Dragonflies are back out!!  After what was a long and cold winter (at least by North Carolina standards), it’s lovely to see the dragonflies out and about again.  Who else out there is seeing dragonflies?  Anyone want to share the things they’ve seen recently?

Have a great weekend everyone!

_______________

Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Dirty (Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday)

Ah, spring!  Warm weather, insects starting to come back out, and lots of new things to photograph.  And there’s nothing like a photo like this…

Dirty windows

… to let you know that you need to clean your windows!  Yuck…

_______________

Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Swarm Sunday: 1/1/2015 – 3/28/2015

Dragonfly Swarm Project logo

 

Well, it’s that time of year again!  Swarms have already started popping up in the US, even though it’s still pretty early to have them.  Here’s the swarms that have been reported since the beginning of the year:

USA:

San Diego, CA
Boynton Beach, FL
Brandon, FL
Fort Lauderdale, FL

Brazil:

Florianopolis, Santa Catarina

South Africa:

Secunda, Mpumalanga

And here is the US map for the first three months of 2015:

1.1.15 to 3.28.15

 

Red pins are static swarms, yellow pins are migratory. Click the map to enlarge!

Though there haven’t been a huge number of swarms reported yet, there was a little flurry of activity this week in Florida with two static swarms and one migratory swarm reported.  I also heard about another Florida swarm on Facebook.  The migratory swarm in San Diego was exciting (at least if you’re me!) as it’s fairly unusual to get those sorts of mass migrations in the western US outside of the variegated meadowhawk migration in Washington and Oregon each fall.  I was very excited about the reports from Brazil and South Africa as they add two new countries to the list of countries where swarms have been reported and bring the total up close to 30 now.  All in all, 2015 is already shaping up to be an interesting year!

I have started seeing a few green darners in North Carolina so far, but nothing else yet.  Here’s hoping there will be a lot more dragonflies out and about soon!

_______________

Have you seen a dragonfly swarm? I am tracking swarms so I can learn more about this interesting behavior.  If you see one, I’d love to hear from you!  Please visit my Report a Dragonfly Swarm page to fill out the official report form.  It only takes a few minutes! Thanks!

_______________

Want more information? Visit my dragonfly swarm information page for my entire collection of posts about dragonfly swarms!

_______________

Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Pond Dwellers (Friday Five)

I’ve been spending a lot of time photographing aquatic insects recently.  I’ve been very busy at work, so I find it relaxing to sit and watch my little tank full of insects in the evenings, observing their behaviors and photographing them.  Next week I’ll share another developmental series like the snail series I posted last week, but in the interest of time as the day is almost over, today I’m going to simply share some photos that I’ve been taking.  Here are some of my favorites this week:

Backswimmer

Notonecta

Backswimmer, Notonecta sp. (likely indica)

I’ve had these guys in the tank for a couple of weeks now and they are really fun to watch!  They have all sorts of cool behaviors and they’re absolutely stunning.  I’ve been trying to track down exactly which species these are and I think they’re Notonecta indica, but I really need to get a species key and run them through to be sure. In the meantime, I just enjoy watching them and admiring their gorgeous eyes and the pearlescent blue-white patch on their foreheads.

Creeping Water Bug Nymph

Ambrysus

Creeping water bug, Pelocoris sp.

This particular creeping water bug lives up to its common name in more ways than one.  Not only does it creep along the rocks and the pieces of wood in the tank, but it also peers out at you from hidden nooks and crannies in the tank.  It’s watching you, even if you don’t see it – it’s a creeper!  They’re quite beautiful creatures though, and he crawled out of his hiding spot just long enough for me to get this shot before he dove back under the log.

Damselfly Nymph

Ischnura

Damselfly nymph

This isn’t the best photo ever as I had accidentally dialed my aperture WAY down without noticing and the depth of field isn’t that great.  However, you can see a lot of cool structures inside this damselfly, and that’s why I like the shot.  Judging from their prominent connection to the tracheae (= air tubes that transport oxygen throughout an insect’s body) in the gills, I suspect those brown squiggly lines are large respiratory organs that bring oxygen from the gills to the head.  Pretty darned cool!  (At least it is if you’re me!)

Mayfly

Batidae

Mayfly nymph, family Baetidae

I have very few photos of mayflies in my collection and it’s due in large part to their fragility.  They get eaten by everything (indeed, this particular individual was snagged by a backswimmer just a few minutes after I got this shot) and they do not transport well at all.  Sloshing around in a container of water is really hard on them and they rarely make the trip.  I was thrilled that this one was still alive when I got it home so I could get some photos of it, though it was missing a couple of legs on this side.  I still really want a good, closeup shot of a mayfly’s gills.  They’re really interesting!  That’s going on my photographic bucket list.

Water Strider

Gerris

Water strider, Gerris sp.

This is technically not a true aquatic insect as it lives on the surface of the water and not in the water, but who can resist a good water strider?  These suckers are hard to catch thanks to their amazing vision, and I managed to catch TWO of them at once!  Granted, they were mating, so they may have been otherwise occupied and perhaps paying a little less attention to their surroundings than usual?  I think these are gorgeous animals, well worth the effort of chasing them down in the pond and then again with the camera as they skip frantically around the tank…  It’s always a treat when they slow down long enough for you to get a shot!

And with that, I’m off to sleep.  Lots to do at work tomorrow!

_______________

Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth