December 3, 2009
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I found a little checkered beetle in my kitchen. It was traipsing across the edge of a clean plate that was drying next to the sink. I took a picture of it sitting in a pill container. The flash went off; it curled into a little ball and twitched. I think I killed it.
Oh, wait, no, it’s ok now.
I really wish I knew something about lenses and proper lighting and stuff, although once I fiddled with the brightness/colour a bit the image turned out not terrible. The little guy is approximately 4-5mm in length. Clubbed antennae, hairs covering the entire body, pretty yellowish pattern on the elytra. If I had to take a stab at it, based on my new favourite link for all things Enoclerus-ish, I think it’s a Enoclerus nigripes rufiventris (Coleoptera: Cleridae).
I don’t know if it’s because we live in the country or because we often are guilty of leaving the lights on, but our house seems to have a Welcome mat on the door for random, out-of-season insects. It’s pretty fun, especially during the long, dark, winter months. I’ll keep introducing y’all to my new houseguests as they make themselves known to me.
November 27, 2009
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I’ve invented a fun new game at work.
It’s called Gross Out Your Colleagues With Bug-related TMI.
This is how you play:
1. wait for a co-worker to notice, then comment on, the strange-looking little flies crawling on their window pane, desk, or coffee mug
2. wait for the co-worker to swat at or otherwise shoo away the strange-looking little flies as they mutter something along the lines of : “damn fruit flies”
3. smile nicely and say “those aren’t fruit flies, they’re SEWER flies”
4. wait for the pause, then your co-worker’s cautious words: “what do you mean, ‘sewer flies’?
5. share the following fun factoids:
- sewer flies (also called “drain flies”) are typically found in moist areas ladden with highly organic debris, such as sink drains, sewage treatment facilities, storm drains, dung and rotten vegetation.
- female sewer flies lay their eggs in the sludge lining drain and sewer pipes
- the larvae FEED on decaying organic material found in the pipes
6. enjoy the look of disgust that slowly creeps over your co-worker’s face and laugh as they scamper off to find the nearest bottle of hand sanitizer.
I’m having too much fun with this game to mention what is obviously a pretty bad infestation to the building services/sanitation peeps. Does that make me evil?
(for the Geekalicious: Sewer flies = true flies (Diptera) of the suborder Nematocera, which contains flies with largely aquatic larvae and includes the mosquitoes and crane flies. Too cool for school with the bad-ass family name “Psychodidae”…but also a tad too fuzzy-wuzzy and cute to take them seriously).
November 24, 2009
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Houston, we have a problem.
A bug problem, that is.
Mealybugs are small, unarmoured pests in the scale family (Pseudococcidae, Hemiptera). Sluggish and sedentary, they quite literally suck the life out of plants using straw-like mouth parts. The females, which are wingless, secrete a white wax-like substance to protect themselves and their eggs from desiccation (drying out) and predation.
Our lovely, generic, anonymous tropical houseplant à la Ikea has an absolutely gangbusters infestation of mealies going on. My wife is not happy they’re on her plant. I am simultaneously annoyed by the dying plant and withering with guilt at the thought of killing them…I mean, they don’t bite, buzz around my head while I sleep or have 8 legs, which are really the only arthropod crimes worthy of capitol punishment (i.e., death by Kleenex) according to this Geek .
Now, admittedly, at the request of my beloved, I tried already. To kill them, that is. Got me some o’ that spray soap insecticide, trucked the plant out to the back porch and drenched it. Poor little mealies lost their fluffy white coats and looked pathetically grey and naked. I felt a little bad about it. I shouldn’t have worried, though. Apparently they had some subs waiting on the bench…the infestation was back to its former glory within weeks.
Sigh. I suppose I can bring the whole thing, plant and pest alike, back to the porch next time we get a good cold snap.
Poor anonymous Ikea plant…I fear you’ll be taking one for the team.
November 9, 2009
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We finished hauling the rest of our wood yesterday. We are wood-hauling beasts (12 cords, BOO-yah!) More six+-legged goodness discovered:
From top (my best guesses): Asian lady beetle* cluster (Coleoptera: Harmonia axyridis); Harvestman, aka Daddy Longlegs (Arachnida: Opiliones); more Flat Bark Beetles (Coleoptera: Sylvanidae) (at least 2 species here); beetle larva (Coleoptera: I’m thinking Tenebrionidae?); Crab Spider? (Arachnida: Thomisidae)
The little grey spider at the bottom is a cutie. I found several others of the same species, and all of them had their legs tucked in close to their abdomens at first, reminding me of a cat trying to keep its feet warm. Once exposed to sunlight and warmth, they would stretch out a bit then lazily poke around their logs.
I was really hoping to find a specimen of Cucujus clavipes to photograph (I’d spotted two earlier this fall when we first started the wood-hauling…alas, none were to be found. Maybe next year…
*exotic, and pesty. They bites us. We hates them.
November 7, 2009
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Saturday morning in the country means “time for chores”. On the menu today was:
Our main source of heat in the chillier months is our woodstove. As much as we looooove heating this way (the cozy warmth, the smoky smell) it takes a lot of work. Twice a year we haul wood: once in the spring, when two trailer-loads of cut logs are dumped unceremoniously on our front lawn – these we stack neatly between our shed and a lean-to we built a few summers ago; and again in the fall, to move the sun-dried logs to their winter storage. In the past, we have simply moved them into the shed. This year we decided to store our wood in the basement…no more trudging out to the shed in deep snow during the dark days of January. This means we load up our trusty wheelbarrow, run it around to the far side of the house and chuck logs through an opened basement window.
I really don’t mind this chore – it’s a good workout and and gives me an excuse to play outside. I’m not particularly efficient though, because I tend to get all OMGSHINY every time I pick up a new log. Wood and crevaces = bugs in hidey-holes trying to overwinter. So each and every log gets a quick inspection before being tossed in the ‘barrow. A few of today’s finds:
From top (species IDs are tentative – I am microscope-less): Flat bark beetle (Coleoptera: Sylvanidae: Uleiota sp.); ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Formicinae); mosquito (Diptera: Anopheles punctipennis); woodlouse (Isopoda: Porcellio spinicornis)
Poor critters were all, “wtf?” and slowly roused themselves as the sun warmed them, eventually dragging their sleepy butts to a darker, less-intruded-upon nook.
Hmmm. I really need a new macro lens. Xmas is coming, yes? Hear that darling wife? Xmas? Lens?
I also need to remember that cut logs=sawdust, and not every speck of shavings I see warrants an automatic “OOH, FRASS!!” response *rolls eyes at own geekiness*.