Why cockroaches will survive a nuclear holocaust

A lot of people have heard the predictions that the humble cockroach, those unwelcome denizens of our homes and workplaces,  will out-survive humans if we should ever be so unfortunate as to experience nuclear holocaust.  I have to say that I was skeptical about this broad, sweeping statement the first time I heard it.  I’m a scientist after all and we tend to be a rather skeptical bunch.  However, I have since witnessed firsthand how resilient those little buggers really are and have decided this is absolutely true.  Allow me to share the observations that led me to this opinion. This is the building I work in:

Forbes building

My building

I think it’s an amazing building.  It is the second oldest building on campus, so it’s got this great old feel to it.  There are columns and pillars and marble and old, old wood everywhere.  Some of the windows can still be opened, unlike most of the windows on campus, and there is a lot of natural light in most rooms.  I have an antique brass doorknob on my office door that I absolutely love that’s probably been on my door since it was installed in the early 1900′s.  My office itself is this bizarre little narrow room with an enormously high ceiling.  I have it all to myself AND it has a window that opens.  Love it, love it, love it!

However, every room has it’s downsides.  My office has a roach problem.  In fact, the whole building has a roach problem.  I’m commonly greeted by large, dead roaches when I walk into the building in the morning.  Dead roaches litter the otherwise elegant marble staircase.  They wander across my desk in broad daylight.  I’m scared to eat off of anything that’s been sitting in the entomology department kitchen because the brown banded roaches in that room just might number in the millions.  I don’t mind roaches, but there are SO very many in the kitchen that even I am a little disturbed.

Brown banded cockroaches. Image from a University of AZ publication on roach control, http://ag.arizona.edu/urbanipm/buglist/ cockroaches.pdf.

Allow me to relate one particularly memorable roach experience in the entomology kitchen to give you a better idea of the level of infestation.  At some point, everyone stopped loading paper towels into the dispenser and started setting them on top. After several months of finding the paper towels on top, I decided to do something about it.  I popped the front off the dispenser, happy that I was finally making things right.  But I was greeted with a horrific sight: about 300 roaches were hiding among the pile of 30 paper towels in the dispenser!  They didn’t take too kindly to my exposing their roachy hideout either and decided to flee the scene.  This unfortunately meant that they all came out the front of the dispenser and down my arms.  Having 100+ of them scurrying rapidly down my arms toward my face was a little much even for me.  I slammed the dispenser shut and never complained about the paper towels being on top of the dispenser again.

So there’s a serious roach problem in my building and the center of activity seems to be the entomology kitchen.  However, the microwave and the fridge are in the kitchen, so it’s hard to avoid going in there.  Furthermore, if you’re me, you have to drink at least 12 cups of hot tea a day, which means you go into the kitchen several times a day.  Sometimes there are roaches in the microwave.  Normally, I scoop them out before I put my mug of water in, but one day the roaches on the walls were irritating me more than usual.  I decided I was going to be really mean and microwave my water with the roaches still inside.

I spent the next three minutes reading all the snarky notices telling people to wash their own dishes and keep their dead animals out of the fridge.  I watched some roaches crawling on the walls and thought about the four in the microwave that were meeting their demise.  Upon hearing the buzzer, I opened the microwave door and pulled out my steaming mug, expecting to see four dead roaches in the microwave.  Instead, all four of them were not only still alive, but scurrying about inside the microwave like nothing had even happened!  They were microwaved on high THREE MINUTES and it didn’t seem to faze them a bit.  Amazing!

Armed with this new observation, I have since microwaved several other roaches.  I have yet to see one die, regardless of how long they’ve been nuked.  I cooked a frozen meal for 7 minutes once and the roach accompanying my delicious mac and cheese looked fine.  I think this is simply astounding! The microwaves almost have to be doing something bad to them.  I do worry a little that I’m creating a breed of giant super roaches by microwaving so many of them.  After all, this is the sort of thing that results in giant insects going on rampages in horror movies.  Ever see Mimic?  I’m sure there are giant roaches like those lurking in the basement of my building somewhere!

roach

Roach

But I can’t help it.  I am absolutely fascinated by the fact that these insects are able to withstand 7 minutes in the microwave.  And if they can stand that, I’m pretty sure they can withstand a nuclear holocaust.*  Now I’ll admit that my evidence is rather circumstantial.  I haven’t done a proper experiment with the roaches.  It’s possible that their reproductive abilities are altered by the microwaves (e.g. egg proteins are denatured), impacting their overall fitness.  They might not survive long past their stint in the microwave (they almost have to be getting hot enough to start denaturing proteins) and I haven’t followed them or kept them in cages to find out.  But still, how many animals are you aware of that can be microwaved 7 minutes and look as fresh and sprightly coming out as they did going in?  Yep, roaches are going to outlast us all.

* <DISCLAIMER> As pointed out by a reader in a comment below, I wish to clarify: microwaves are not at all the same sort of radiation as that which would occur during nuclear fallout.  Microwaves work by rearranging water and other molecules and that motion generates heat, so they’re not going to cause genetic rearrangements or other similarly catastrophic results.  In case it isn’t clear, the point of this post is simply to demonstrate the remarkable abilities of roaches to withstand some pretty unforgiving conditions by relating observations I’ve made personally that I thought were fascinating.  I’m not qualified to make any real claims regarding the ability of roaches to withstand nuclear fallout and simply wish to suggest that if anything is going to be able to withstand a tragedy of this nature, an animal that can survive being microwaved for 7 minutes is a good candidate. </DISCLAIMER>

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © 2011 DragonflyWoman.wordpress.com

Friday 5: Insect Eggs!

Today’s Friday 5 is going to be shorter and a bit more of a photo album compared to my usual posts.  I work with the eggs of giant water bugs in my research, and if you read my recent post on insect egg anatomy you know there’s a soft spot in my heart for all things insect egg related.  There are some truly beautiful insects eggs out there (if you haven’t seen the National Geographic insect egg article or Martin Oeggerli’s Micronaut website, you should visit both as soon as possible!) and I try to document them when I see them.  Some of the photos are less than perfect, but I take them for myself so I will remember seeing the eggs instead of focusing on producing a perfect image.  Some insect egg photos from my collection:

cactus eggs

Eggs on a barrel cactus spine.

I have no idea what these are, but I wish I did!  The eggs are gorgeous and have some bizarre structures that I would like to look into further.  If you know what these are, I’d love to hear from you!  I found them on a barrel cactus in October.

lacewing egg

Green lacewing egg, hatched.

I actually know what this one is!  Green lacewings lay their eggs on little stalks like these and they’re all over my yard in the summer.  This egg was laid under the porch light where the lacewings like to hang out at night and the larva had already hatched.  I liked the color of the white stalk against the rust colored adobe walls of my duplex, so I snapped a few photos.  Lacking a flash at the time, this was the least blurry.  :)

moth ovipositing on sliding glass door

Moth ovipositing on sliding glass door.

I was sitting on my couch reading one night when I looked up and noticed a moth (likely a noctuid, though honestly I didn’t look that closely) moving around strangely on the sliding glass door to the backyard.  I got up to see what it was doing and noticed it was laying eggs!  I ran to get my obsolete point and shoot digital camera and took the photo from inside the house through the very dirty glass.  This produced a rather cruddy photo.  Still, it makes me smile every time I see it because it was fun to watch the mom laying her eggs on my door.  All of the eggs eventually hatched, so presumably her efforts were worth it!

eggs on strawberry

Eggs on strawberry.

I despise most fruits, but I eat the few I like in massive quantities when they’re in season.  Last summer I was happily working my way through an entire pound of some of the most delicious organic strawberries I’d ever had when I noticed the little cluster of eggs on this berry just before I popped it into my mouth.  Because I’m me, I pondered the beauty of the drab grey eggs against the bright red strawberry for a while and decided it warranted a photograph.  I love how the photo turned out!  I didn’t think to save the eggs to identify them, but I think they’re probably stink bug eggs based on the features I can see in my photos.

Lethocerus eggs hatching

Lethocerus medius eggs hatching

Last but not least, these are some of the eggs I study, laid by the giant water bug Lethocerus medius.  This species is an emergent brooder and lays its eggs above the water line.  The father then carries water to the eggs and protects them until the nymphs hatch.  They are gorgeous, enormous eggs, but they’re even more impressive when they hatch.  The nymphs hatch synchronously, so 200+ little water bugs wriggle their little bodies out the eggs at the same time.  It’s an amazing sight!

I wish more people took a closer look at insect eggs because they are fascinating up close.  There are a ton of different styles and shapes and structures and vary quite a bit from group to group.  They make great photographic subjects too because they don’t move!  I encourage everyone to go out and look for insect eggs around their homes.  And if you get great photos that you’d like to share, feel free to share links on/upload them to The Dragonfly Woman’s Facebook page.  I’d love to see what you find!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © 2011 DragonflyWoman.wordpress.com

Wordless Wednesday: Leaf Cutter Ant

I know my ant photos have nothing on Alex Wild’s fabulous photos of this species, but I was pleased to get this shot anyway:

Acromyrmex versicolor

Acromyrmex versicolor female

This female Acromyrmex versicolor leaf cutter ant was one of several captured during a mating swarm and brought into the lab, where they proceeded to run around like madwomen while I frantically tried to get a shot of one in focus.  It was largely unsuccessful (I got 2 decent shots out of 127!), but I like the way this one looks.

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © 2011 DragonflyWoman.wordpress.com

Collecting Insects: Preserving Insects in Hand Sanitizer

Entomologists on Twitter got all excited last week when a tutorial for preserving insects in hand sanitizer was passed around.  As a teacher and an entomologist who does a lot of aquatic insect outreach activities, I was very excited to learn about this method!  Aquatic insects are typically stored in glass vials filled with alcohol, which unfortunately means the insects all sink to the bottom.  It’s then really hard to position them so that you can see particular features.  If you want a good look at the insect, you usually have to take it out of the vial and put it in a dish of alcohol.  This all makes insects in vials hard to use in outreach activities.  However, the hand sanitizer method featured photos of insects suspended in the middle of vials.  No sinking to the bottom, no turning the vial over and over and over trying to get the insect flipped over just right to get a close look at a particular piece.  They’re supposed to be durable too.  I decided I had to try it – and it totally worked!

I love this method, so I wanted to share it here.  While it is probably not a great way to preserve insects for research (I’m sure there are things in hand sanitizer that are not so great for, say, genetic analyses), it is perfect for display specimens.  I think this is going to work especially well with kids, those cute little destroyer of specimens in vials.  :)

Hand Sanitizer StepThings You’ll Need:

  • clear hand sanitizer
  • vials (clean – can be ordered online in a variety of styles, search for “glass screwtop vial” or visit Bioquip)
  • insects – dry or preserved in alcohol (fresh supposedly don’t work well)
  • forceps or toothpick/wooden skewer
  • eye dropper or pipet with bulb
  • small saucepan
  • stove or hot plate

Instructions:

You’ve gathered your gear, so let’s get started!  First, pour or pump hand sanitizer into the vial, filling about 2/3 full:

Hand Sanitizer Step 2I overfilled mine when I was taking the photos – you definitely want to leave more space at the top!  Next, put a bug in the vial and press into the hand sanitizer using forceps or a toothpick:

Hand Sanitizer Step 3Don’t worry too much about the exact position at the moment.  Just get them into the gel.  Notice how many air bubbles are in the vial with the bugs:

Hand Sanitizer Step 4That defeats the purpose of creating gorgeous display bugs!  The original tutorial spoke of a few different ways to get the bubbles out, but I followed their preferred method and boiled my vials.  This has the dual purpose of getting the air bubbles out of the gel surrounding the bug and removing the air bubbles from inside the bug if you are using dry specimens.  Fill a saucepan with about 1 inch of water (water should come about halfway up the side of the vials) and place the open vials upright on the bottom of the pan:

Hand Sanitizer Step 5Carefully bring the water to a gentle simmer, taking care not to let the vials fall over.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until most of the bubbles are gone.  NOTE: Be very careful that no hand sanitizer comes into contact with the burner or any open flames or it will burst into flames!  ANOTHER NOTE: Unless you want little glass-shard-and-alcohol-gel bombs simmering on your stove, be sure to leave the lids off.  The gel inside the vial will boil, so this is where over-filling the vials like I did becomes a problem.  It’s not the end of the world if they boil over, but it does give you extra work later.   After the bubbles are gone (there may be some large bubbles coming up from the bottom – don’t worry about those too much for now), carefully remove the vials from the water.  Your vials should look like this:

Hand Sanitizer Step 6No bubbles!  Now position your insects in the gel as you would like for them to be displayed:

Hand Sanitizer Step 8You can be as picky as you want during this stage!  The insects will become soft as they boil in the hand sanitizer, so you can position legs and antennae and other parts relatively easily at this stage, even if you used dry insects.  I didn’t care so much about the exact position of the body parts, so I just put them in the center of the vials where they were easy to look at.  If there are any remaining bubbles, remove them with an eye dropper or pipet with a bulb:

Hand Sanitizer Step 7Next, you need to fill up the rest of the vial.  Leaving air at the top of the vial will eventually result in air bubbles working their way into the gel.  I also learned through trial and error that putting cold hand sanitizer on top of hot sanitizer results in a WHOLE lot of bubbles!  Let the vials cool to about room temperature, then add more hand sanitizer:

Hand Sanitizer Step 9

To avoid getting bubbles later, you don’t want to leave any headspace above the gel.  Fill your vials a little overfull so that some hand sanitizer will squish out when you put the lid on:

Hand Sanitizer Step 10If there are bubbles in the gel after you top off the vials, remove them with the pipet or eye dropper as described above.  Then, screw on the lids!:

Hand Sanitizer Step 11Wipe the excess hand sanitizer off the glass around the lid.  Then, if your vials boiled over like some of mine did, run them under some hot water for a few seconds and wipe the vials with a soft cloth until all the gel remnants are gone and the glass is clear.

Voila!  You now have some spiffy insects suspended in the center of a vial, perfect for displaying, taking to outreach events, showing to your colleagues, letting little kids look at, giving as gifts to your entomologist friends, etc.  The insects will remain in place, regardless of how you hold the vials:

Hand Sanitizer FinalI think these are going to be fabulous for my outreach events!   The insects are a hundred times easier to deal with when suspended in the alcohol gel than when left in vials of alcohol.  You can also see all the parts rather well, even if the bug is pretty far from the edges of the glass.  I can think of two downsides though.  One is that, though this method is easy to do, it is a bit fiddly and thus takes some patience and time.  The two vials I created for the photos together took about 45 minutes.  Second, depending on the style of lid on your vials, you may need to check the hand sanitizer levels inside the vial now and again.  I will be checking my display vials often so that I don’t get bubbles.  Because bubbles are bad.  At least if you’re a compulsive perfectionist about this sort of thing like I am…  :)

Because you can suspend things inside the gel, you can do some fun things with your vials.  Maybe try layering several morphs of the same species in one vial.  I’m thinking of creating some life cycles vials that will demonstrate how my water bugs develop from an egg into adults.  You could layer a whole bunch of insects in one really big container and use it as a home decor item.  Okay, okay.  I’m probably the only person in the world who would ever do that, but I would love it!  Still, there are lots of possibilities.  Play around and have fun!

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Print, save, or e mail this tutorial in PDF format!  Click on this link and the PDF will appear in a new tab or window.  Also, the original tutorial has more images of completed vials, including some vials containing several specimens.  Enjoy!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © 2011 DragonflyWoman.wordpress.com

Friday 5: Non-insect Arthropods of the Sonoran Desert

Rattlesnake

Warning: The creepy factor of today’s post is going to be quite high.  Just want to give you a head’s up before you dive in.

The Sonoran Desert is an amazing place!  It’s greener than people expect, we’ve got awesome giant cacti like the saguaro, and the diversity of life is astounding.  Many entomologists think southern Arizona and northern Mexico are among the best places to study and/or collect insects in the world, and people come from all over specifically to check out our insects.  (People also come from all over to stay warm during the winter, but that’s a story for another time!)  Of course,  Arizona is also known for several other animals, some of which can actually be dangerous if you’re not careful, like the rattlesnake in the photo, or just plain scary for a lot of people.

Today I’m going to introduce you to several non-insect arthropods that live in my area.  These are things a lot of people are very scared of, but these are some amazing animals that deserve their own post!  Let’s begin with an arthropod I’ve already featured in a post about my field site and the undead animal I fished out of the pond there:

Giant Red-Headed Centipede, Scolopendra heros

Scolopendra heros
Scolopendra heros

I freely admit that these things scare the daylights out of me.  They’re fast, they’re enormous (up to 8 inches long!), and there’s something about those legs that I find incredibly disturbing.  (It’s not the number – millipedes don’t bother me at all – but the way they move…)  Still, you have to admire this animal.  They have stunning coloration that even I can appreciate.  They’re fierce predators, using their modified forelegs (called forcipules) to inject venom into their prey and paralyze them before they chew them up.  Watching one of these things eat is both horrifying and awe-inspiring!  Plus, you have to respect any arthropod that gets this big.  I’m always amazed when I see them running around the desert at night – and very, very thankful that my tent has a good zipper on it!

Desert Blond Tarantula, Aphonopelma chalcodes

Aphonopelma chalcodes tarantula

Aphonopelma chalcodes

I find that people who are scared of spiders are often able to appreciate tarantulas.  It probably helps that they move slowly and are generally harmless to people, plus they look fuzzy enough to be stuffed animals.  I think tarantulas are great!  Desert blond tarantulas tend to stay near their underground burrows to hunt, though males can venture further when searching for females, especially after monsoon storms.  I think the coolest thing about these spiders is how they defend themselves from predators.  When disturbed, they will brush their hind legs over the top of their abdomens, which releases a cloud of hairs.  These hairs have hooked barbs on them, which means they embed themselves into the eyes, mouths, and noses of things that think a tarantula might make a tasty treat.  The embedded hairs are known to be terribly irritating.   Although I have not experienced this defense first hand, I have a feeling it’s rather like getting the tiny spines from prickly pears stuck in your fingers, i.e. really, really annoying!

Sun Spider or Solifugid, Eremobates sp.

Eremobates solifugid

Slightly blurry photo of an Eremobates solifugid

Solifugids are rather creepy looking arachnids, but you just have to love them!  Also known as sun spiders or camel spiders, solifugids can get quite large in certain parts of the world.  In the Sonoran Desert, they can approach 2 inches in length, but I rarely see any that big.  Solifugids are predators and they can chase down their prey with those long, fast legs.  The blurry photo is the result of this solifugid stalking a cricket and refusing to sit still!  That pointy black bit up at the front is the business end of the solifugid, powerful mouthparts they use to rip apart their prey before they liquefy their food and eat the resulting soupy mess.  These animals are often erroneously said to be dangerous to humans, but they really can’t do much to you except bite.  Honestly though, who’s going to pick up an animal that looks like this and give it a chance to bite them?  I love to watch them, but I leave these guys alone.

Vinegaroon, Mastigoproctus giganteus

Mastigoproctus giganteus

Mastigoproctus giganteus

Vinegaroons, also known as whip scorpions, are gnarly looking beasts, but their scary looks belie their laid back demeanor!  They’re not venomous, they generally don’t bite people, and they can become quite docile.  Even I’m willing to handle these, and I’m a total wimp when it comes to picking up arachnids!  Vinegaroons are fascinating animals.  Those big, thick projections off the front end are mouthparts called pedipalps, powerful pincers used to capture prey (arthropods and some small vertebrates).  Notice that the vinegaroon in the photo is standing on only 6 legs instead of 8.  That’s because the front legs have been modified into sensory structures similar to insect antennae!  The tail in the back allows the vinegaroon to protect itself from predators, though it isn’t a stinger.   Instead, vinegaroons have glands near the end of the abdomen that store a mixture of acids, including acetic acid (the acid that gives vinegar its distinctive smell and taste – hence vinegaroon!).  When disturbed, the vinegaroon points its tail at the predator and ejects some acid from the glands.  The acid travels up the tail and sprays the predator in the face.  As you might imagine, getting a face full of acid spray will slow most animals down, giving the vinegaroon time to run away.  Now tell me that’s not the coolest thing you’ve ever heard!

Arizona Stripetail Scorpion, Vaejovis spinigerus

Vaejovis spinigerus stripetail  scorpion
Vaejovis spinigerus

Although many (maybe most) Arizonans are scared of all of the animals included in this post whether they’re harmful or not, I think the scorpion is probably the most feared of them all.  We’ve got three common species of scorpions where I live, and all of them have painful stings.  The bark scorpion can actually be life threatening under the right conditions, so it’s good to give these animals a lot of respect.  Still, what a magnificent animal!  Just looking at a scorpion should help you appreciate how very long these beasts have roamed the earth.  There’s something incredibly primitive about them, yet look at the scorpion in the photo.  Isn’t it stunning?  With the morning light shining through its tail it’s almost pretty!  My students found this little one half-frozen under a rock on a very cold morning after a frigid night of camping.  We were enthralled by it and I’m glad I captured it in a photo so I will always remember how glorious this one was.

Even though I am scared to death of the centipedes and you really do have to look out for the scorpions to avoid getting stung, I love living in a place that has so many interesting animals!  The fact that I’ve seen all of these live in the desert on several occasions makes me really happy and I think it’s a real treat to come across a vinegaroon or a solifugid while collecting insects or simply enjoying being outside.  Isn’t nature spectacular?!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © 2011 DragonflyWoman.wordpress.com

The Return of Wordless Wednesday!

When I started this blog, I got all excited about the idea of Wordless Wednesday, a day of blogging without words through the use of visual imagery.  However, I was only posting once a week when I started doing it and it seemed lame to have my entire post be a single photo each week.  I wordlessly retired it.  But now I’m posting more often and it will actually work!  It is therefore time to resurrect Wordless Wednesday.

On Wednesday each week, I’ll post a photo on my blog.  It may be an insect.  It may be a place I found an insect.  It might be an image of something an insect built or otherwise created.  It may simply be something insect-themed that I like.  It will not, however, be entirely wordless.  It goes against my nature to leave things entirely wordless on my blog.  Instead, I’ll keep my descriptions of the photos down to 3 sentences or less.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll start a Nearly Wordless Wednesday craze!

Today’s Wordless Wednesday is clearly a bit over the 3 sentence limit, but I promise I’ll stick to it in the future.  My photo for this week:

mantid

Mantid butt!

Don’t know what kind of mantid this is exactly (Mantis? Tenodera? something else entirely?) but I like this shot anyway.  You can see all the fiddly bits at the back, the cerci and what not, clearly and there’s just a hint of the beautiful hind wings.  This mantid was cleaning itself off, presumably because I soaked it with the hose when I didn’t see it in a plant I was watering and then picked it up and carried it into the house for a photo shoot.  :)

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © 2011 DragonflyWoman.wordpress.com

Ode to an Odonate on Valentine’s Day

I’m stepping WAY outside my usual comfort zone for this post and trying my hand at a little poetry!  To the dragonfly Pantala flavescens (the wandering glider) on Valentine’s Day:

Pantala flavescens flying

Pantala flavescens (wandering glider) flying

Ode to an Odonate

Oh Pantala flavescens!
How your mighty wings
carry you on the wind,
taking you further than
most of your kind
can only dream,
wandering
and gliding
across continents
and vast oceans
and the field behind
the farmer’s house.
Your titanic eyes see
the tiny animals
on which you feast,
the air a veritable smorgasbord
of delicious delicacies
that you sample voraciously
until you’ve had your fill.

And, oh!
How happy
your circular unions,
living depictions of
the circle of life
to which you owe your existence,
as do we all.

Oh, Pantala flavescens,
scourge of biting insects,
our unsung and unappreciated
defender of humanity,
plucking us from the grips
of cold death
at the hands of pathogens,
expecting nothing
in return but satiety.
We salute you!

Long live Pantala flavescens!
Your beauty unsurpassed,
your habits alarming and pure,
your grandeur supreme
and everlasting.
Fly forever at
the edges of cool pools
across the lands,
and into the future.

Pantala flavescens

A wandering glider (Pantala flavescens)

This poem was inspired by a fabulous Valentine’s-themed Twitter campaign promoting biodiversity and conservation called Love Species.  If you wish to participate in their campaign too, it’s easy!  Visit the link above, find your favorite of the animals listed in the ARKive collection of images, and tell everyone on Twitter which is your favorite and why.  Makes sure to include the hashtag #lovespecies so that others will be able to find your favorites.  And if you don’t know what ARKive is, it’s worth browsing their site even if you don’t want to participate in Love Species!  The goal of ARKive is to document life on Earth by collecting the best wildlife photography and movies and archiving them.  They then publicly share these brilliant images in hope of inspiring people to appreciate and conserve the organisms that share our planet.  The organization has some really big names in biology, photography, film making, education, etc. supporting their efforts and the results are stunning.  ARKive is definitely worth a look!

I wanted to take Love Species a step further and declare my undying love for one of the species represented on ARKive for my Valentine’s Day post!  Valentine’s scream poetry to me, so it seemed appropriate to make my declaration in poetic form.  I used to write a lot of poems when I was a teenager (LOTS of poems – I needed something to do in all those study halls I was forced to sit through!), but I haven’t done it for a long time.  I also never shared my poems because, well, I don’t know why exactly.  I guess it made me nervous to think that someone else might read one and hate it.  To that end, to any of you sticklers who read my poem: please note that I am fully aware that my poem is not truly an ode because it doesn’t have the proper structure nor the correct (i.e. any!) rhyming scheme.  But how can anyone possibly pass up the chance to name their poem Ode to an Odonate?!  :)

I encourage everyone to publicly declare their love for a species!  There are so many ways you could do this too and you don’t certainly need to use Valentine’s as an excuse.  Write a blog post, buy a t-shirt with your favorite organism and wear it proudly, or post a fabulous photo you’ve taken to Flikr.  Just get it out there!   Love a species and share it with the world and maybe you’ll inspire others to do the same.

Happy Valentine’s to everyone!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © 2011 DragonflyWoman.wordpress.com