Saturday, September 30, 2017

Wasp and Cicada Together

Earlier this month, a wasp and cicada caught our eyes. I might have whipped out my measuring stick and laid it near the duo, but decided to not disturb the wasp. As it turns out, several resources claim that the wasp is likely busy and not interested in a nearby human. From Cicada Mania's "10 Facts about Cicada Killer Wasps"
They are so focused on cicadas or other Cicada Killer Wasps, that they could care less about you. Sure, if you step on one, squeeze one in your hand, or otherwise harass the insect, it might sting you. Unlike other wasps, it will not go out of its way to harm you. Play it safe, do not go near these wasps, …
The last few months have been interesting for encountering cicadas and related items—exuviae (discarded exoskeleton), cicada wasp (humongous insect), and a molting cicada visitor on my doorstep—all separate events. This incident was different—both wasp and cicada in the same scene. In looking closer at the pictures and doing Google lookups, a real oddity was the size of the pictured wasp compared to the cicada. Resources such as Cicada Mania and BugGuide.Net describe the wasps as large.
If you compare the pictures with numerous online images or videos of wasps flying with their prey, my wasp is an absolute peewee. As I didn't spend much time with the duo, and didn't shoot a video, I'm inferring a story. The cicada's back faces the sky. For the wasp to use the cicada as food source for its larva, it must be able to insert the egg into the cicada. In the three pix, the wasp looks waaaay too small to be able to turn the cicada onto its back.


Walking in the same area the next day, did not see either insect. Dang! Missed opportunity.

While researching sites and videos to better identify the wasp and cicada. I noted a couple of coincidences:
Additional video resources show wasps with cicadas. Those wasps are maybe half the size of the cicadas (unlike peewee wasp), but strong enough to haul their prey. Some of the videos also include narration about the wasps' actions on the hapless cicadas.

Cicada articles:

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Wire Hanger Crowdedness? Use Cable Clamps as Separators



If you’ve tangled with wire hangers with clothes, it’s time to put space at those annoyances on your closet rod. (Works best if the rod is a simple dowel.) Use cable clamps to separate hangers from each other and keep them orderly. Two main spacer methods:
  • Alternating hangers and cable clamps, and simply sliding items along the rod. Hangers can easily hook or unhook from the rod.
  • Hooking each hanger in each cable clamp’s set of holes. Use each hanger and clamp as a unit for draping or removing the article of clothing.
1 Determine the suitable size of cable clamp you need. First, measure the existing rod for its diameter (4 suggested methods).
  • Hold measuring stick across the dowel’s diameter.
  • Use calipers to measure diameter.
  • Wrap measuring tape around dowel for circumference, then divide by pi (3.14) to obtain diameter.
  • Wrap paper around dowel, fold to mark circumference, measure length, then divide number by pi (3.14) to obtain diameter.
2 Obtain suitable cable clamps.

The brand of cable clamps I bought were Thomas & Bettes (100 for $10, free shipping, fast delivery), using eBay.

**Beware of high price quotes at other websites showing the same part number.**
100 Thomas & Betts 1.5" Nylon Cable Clamp # N6NY-024-9-C, $10.00, FREE Standard Shipping

3 View the video for ideas for cable clamp and hanger placement ideas.


Eye-catching Wire Hanger Topics Encountered During Research

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Peewee Leggy Bugs--Water Striders

Jesus! A bug type that can walk on water!

A neighbor walking with us spotted a bug he considered a "leggy bug", like several I had written about the last few months. From looking at images and diagrams of proportionally for legs vs. body length, I could agree. However, after peering more into the water strider (aka pond skater), I'd characterize the bug as a peewee leggy bug. These striders' body lengths measure only about 1/2". Their legginess, however, helps them navigate on water surfaces.

From Osborn School site "Water Strider"—"½ of an inch long … sometimes called 'Pond Skater', can run across the surface of the water, very sensitive to movement".

Enchanted Learning's site "Water Strider" has similar information with a descriptive diagram.
The water strider (also known as the pond skater) is a true bug that can run across the surface of water … The underside of the body is covered with water-repellent hair. … Most water striders are over 0.2 inch (5 mm) long. … The long, middle legs move this bug across the surface on the water like paddles. The long hind legs steer them and act as brakes. The short front legs are used to catch prey.
Coincidentally, I wrote about a "true bug" previously—the leaf-footed bug that visited me at one of my porch columns "Leaf-footed Bug Visitor". The commonality—piercing mouth parts: In the case of the water strider in BugFact's "Water Strider (True Bug)" site, using the bug POV, "[I] use my piercing mouth parts to suck the juices primarily from other insects or spiders, alive or dead."

Is the water strider a leggy bug like several I have written about recently? Yep, if considering ratios of body parts. "Water Strider (True Bug)" emphasis on legs—"I am able to slide along the surface of the water by distributing my weight evenly on my long legs. … I have two antenna and six long thin legs. My front legs are shorter than my back legs."

Bugguide.net's "Family Gerridae - Water Striders", shows the size to be a puny (3-16 mm, about .12 to .63 inches)—not as impressive as walking sticks, crane flies, or huntsman spiders.

An informative site, seemingly hostile to water striders, is PestWiki's "Water Strider: 8 General Facts and How to Get Rid of Them". (The descriptive illustration is pretty cool.)
They have short front legs which help them to capture aquatic insects in ponds. They also have wings on dorsal sides. They use their middle pair of hydrophilic legs for propulsion and their hind pairs for steering. The adult water striders come in two species i.e. one with wings n (sic) the other without wings.
How It Works' "How do water striders walk on water?" provides another description of mechanics and water-coping ability of this bug:
Despite being denser than water, a water strider doesn’t doesn’t sink; … The forces of attraction between all the molecules in the water pull the molecules at the surface together so that they lock like a thin elastic membrane of slightly denser molecules.…

The middle pair of legs, lying ?at on the water, are used as oars to ‘row’ over the surface while the rear pair act like rudders for steering. Long, splayed legs enable the pond skater to distribute its weight evenly over a greater surface area, further helping it to float.
Some TouTube Videos About Water Striders with Emphasis on Water-walking Talents
A Male Water Strider Species with Captivating Courtship

"Male water striders evolved antennae to grab females by the eyes" describes a study of rheumatobates rileyi species of water strider. The male bug mates with the female, first using his antennae to physically capture her eyes. Besides vivid descriptions, the article includes a video of the couple in action.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Molting Cicada Visitor at My Doorstep



Last month, on my way back from a morning walk around 8 AM, I spied a cicada partially emergent from its exoskeleton at my front door. It looked to be trapped and unable to have exited. Took pix, natch. Checked later, and found it had moved. In the course of the day (about 4 1/2 hours), the two of us took series of pix and videos. (View the finished YouTube video.)

Around mid-day, the other pictaker took a last shot of the cicada, fully extended, still drying out. Shortly thereafter, we saw it had departed, leaving the exuviae that had a more slender exit cavity than I'd seen of other vacated shells. The video is time-sequenced for cropped stills and clips. Most amazing is capturing stages of emergence and the stunning mask-like look on its back.

Note: Somehow, I missed the shelly cicada on my way out for my walk (7-ish, maybe). I either didn't spot it, or it approached the doorstep during my walk. View "Cicada Molting - Nature Time Lapse (Cicala fa la muta)" to see a couple of shelly cicadas undulating and splitting the shell backs, starting the emerging process, then completing the molting process.

Bugguide.net and Cicada Mania
Bugguide.net has been my most frequent go-to site for bugs. For this article about cicadas, Cicada Mania's "The most interesting 17 year cicada facts" bubbled to the surface as a compelling site to visit.
More worthy Cicada Mania sites:
Some images from Bugguide.net's "Subfamily Cicadinae" page resemble my visitor cicada. The genus might be neotibicen ("Genus Neotibicen - Annual or Dogday Cicadas") or megatibicen ("Genus Megatibicen").
From "Genus Megatibicen"
Identification
Most members of the Megatibicen are >2.5 inches long (incl. wings). Megatibicen are often "stockier in appearance" & characteristically more pruinose (white powdery wax) than are most members of the Genus Neotibicen.
Pee Ew
One of the clips in my YouTube video shows the emergent cicada spraying a fluid. Did it pee? Sure looked like it did! Found some info and a video, although these cicadas were already free of their shells.

At Massachusetts Cicadas site (slogan: Dedicated to the Study of the Cicadas of Massachusetts and New England), "Cicada Molting/Eclosing Process" shows a timeline a timeline of the cicada's emergence. For ick factor, view the closeup of cicada pee. Cicada Mania's "Do cicadas pee?" mentions cicadas after they molt, not during. The site includes YouTube video "Cicadas - Drinking & Peeing (01Apr2012a)" of branch with emerged cicadas on it spraying away. (The spray resembles the emission as from my molting cicada visitor.)

Cicada articles:

Monday, July 31, 2017

Leaf-footed Bug Visitor



My bug visitor was unusually shaped, like a slender, upside-down bell, with muscular-looking, long, rear legs. It was nearly monochrome dark. From preliminary research and images, I settled on it being a leaf-footed bug.

From “Leaf-Footed Bugs, Family Coreidae”—“Many members of this family have noticeable leaf-like extensions on their hind tibia, and this is the reason for their common name.” Another good preliminary resource is the Insect Identification site for “Leaf-Footed Bug - (Acanthocephala spp.)”.

A few days ago (about 8 AM), the intriguing bug was on a porch column, unmoving. I left it alone, but took several pictures. After about an hour, I returned, toting my camera and masking tape-backed measuring stick, to see if it was still there. The bug had moved. I aligned the ruler near it and pressed; took a couple of shots. Bug stayed put.

I decided to return after the house shadow would fall across the column for better pictures (around 3 PM). As I set some blank background nearby, the bug started to move! Upward! Out of range of my backdrop! Aha! I would just RECORD it for a little while! Then it froze. I took more pix, then left. About an hour afterward, I looked to see it had left.

Later, for help in identifying the bug, I posted the ruler-accompanied bug picture to my LinkedIn feed, emailed someone who had blogged about a similar-looking bug, and scoured big-picture bug sites. By poring SLOWLY over the big picture sites, I narrowed down my search. It helped to have an idea of the bug I wanted to ID. Good jumping off (ha) sites:
I kept encountering the term “true bug”. From ASU School of Life Sciences site:
The key difference between true bugs and other insects is their mouth parts. … true bugs have specialized mouth parts used to suck juices. … The proboscis of a true bug is not retractable. Insects with movable mouthparts allow them to move food from the source to their mouth. The proboscis of a true bug is more rigid and cannot be rolled up.
Poring more into Google site and image searches, I found several sites that showed bugs with strong resemblances to my visitor.
Although "What’s That Bug" did not include the species name declivis, I found declivis and three other species names (femorata, terminalis, thomasi) in the Bugguide taxonomy tab. Best match for images is delivis.

*** View my video of the leaf-footed bug that was on my porch column, leaving around mid-day. Includes motion footage, a still of it with accompanying measuring stick for size reference. Additional stills capture a seeming heel click and shadow-illusion pushups. Check out the carapace. As it turns out, I’ve been bugged a long time ago, over the same type of bug … in 2005, when I helped a friend move. I have included some of those stills also.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Cicada Wasp N Cicada a Month Apart

The last few weeks while taking daily walks and pix, we've spotted some unusual buggy items that warranted closeups. (I’m getting better about carrying and whipping out a measuring stick so I can scale the objects.) My pixstrip with composites shows three related objects—cicada wasp (dead), cicada exoskeleton (aka "exuvia"), and cicada (dead), approximately scaled with my trusty 6” rule.

Some LinkedIn connections IDed the first bug as a cicada wasp (from June 12). Cicada wasp? It’s a wasp that zeros in on cicadas as they emerge from their hibernation. Note that the underside of the image pair shows the stinger. I created a composite with pastes of measuring stick segments and the camera pouch. I was amazed at the over-two-inch wingspan. According to "The Texas-sized cicada killer", the females have the stingers and are docile, and males don't have stingers but are aggressive.

The second image section (July 11) shows a cicada exuvia that hung vertically from a curb. You can see a hollow inside where the insect emerged from. For the image, I used masking tape to affix the measuring stick near the body length to get a sense of scale.

8/10/17, WRT to exuvia/exuviae—from Steve Schwartzman of Portraits of Wildflowers
from what I can tell, entomologists normally use the plural exuviae. The singular would indeed be exuvia, but entomologists seem not to use that form. While exuviae is formally a plural, it carries something of a singular force as a set of sloughed-off parts.
https://www.ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=exuviae
https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/us/exuviae

The third image section (July 12) shows the topside and bottom side of a cicada. I had help from additional LinkedIn connections in IDing it. Two commenters provided the same wikipedia link (endorsement!), which conveniently includes an audio link near the picture. In the last few weeks I sure have heard a lot of the same sounds. View the following YouTube videos for closeup motions and sounds.
View videos of cicadas starting out as muddy-looking bugs. Watch them detach from their exoskeletons and emerge as elegant, transparent-winged cicadas—
The following three videos show closeups of cicada wasps and their distinctive yellow markings. Two of the videos show wasps hauling their much larger prey.
Past Articles about Cicadas

Last year, I had written a couple of articles about cicadas, but was more focused on the exoskeletons than the wasp predator or winged insects. Both exoskeletons in those images had wound up on the same porch column at different times. Incidentally, one set of images includes wasps, but they seem to be maybe curious paper wasps buzzing at the empty shell.
Lots of thanks to LinkedIn people who helped ID my pictures in my feed and also commented! If you're a LinkedIn member, you can visit the following topics and images:

Cicada articles:

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Leggy Bugs--Grasshoppers

These REALLLY leggy bugs are great jumpers. As if having spectacular jumping legs weren’t enough for grasshoppers for locomotion, they even have wings to fly with. Visit a-z animals ”Grasshopper” website for basic information and images.
about 2 inches long although larger grasshoppers are found on a fairly regular basis that grow to more than 5 inches in length … all species of grasshopper have a three-part body … head … thorax … abdomen … six legs, two pairs of wings, and two antennae.

Grasshoppers have six jointed legs that are incredibly powerful for such a small creature, as grasshoppers are able to jump extraordinary distances. The two back legs of the grasshopper are long and powerful and are just for jumping, where the four front legs of the grasshopper are primarily used to hold onto prey and to help it to walk.
Grasshopper Anatomy” has overall descriptions, images, and additional information about body parts. The site is succinct about the grasshopper legs’ purposes.
The biggest Grasshoppers are about 4.5 inches (11.5 centimetres) long. Their legs are long hind legs that are used for hopping and jumping. The short front legs are used to hold prey and to walk.
"Grasshopper World, up-close and personal" is interesting for closeup views that include color effects and music. No narration and scant text, but the description area is reasonably informative.

Arthropod Morphology Parts of an Insect (Grasshopper)” shows a grasshopper diagram with body part identifiers and glossary. A complementary resource is Quizlet’s “Grasshopper” website.

"Grasshopper Facts for Kids" is a YouTube slide show with text and images. Information about jumping distances and mechanics of jumping run from about 1:50 to 2:30.

Two Websites that Emphasize Grasshopper Jumps

These two websites explain the structure of grasshopper hind legs and mechanics of jumping capability.

From “How the [Grasshopper] Legs Work”—
The thick part at the top of the leg (femur) contains the muscles which make the thinner lower part (tibia) move. The foot at the end of the leg has sharp claws, which give the grasshopper a good grip so that its foot doesn't skid when it pushes on the ground as it jumps.
From “Basic Requirements” (for good grasshopper jump)—
First, the legs have to thrust on the ground with a lot of force.
If the thrust is too low, the animal doesn't get a fast enough take-off and it doesn't jump very far.

Second, the legs have to develop this force quickly.
If the thrust builds up too slowly, the legs will extend before the thrust reaches its maximum. Once the grasshopper is standing on tip-toe, it can't thrust against the ground any more.
Two Grasshopper-featured Stories

Grasshoppers are in a couple of notable stories—both also involving ants. One story is an Aesop fable. More recent is A Bug’s Life (1998). A YouTube video is a movie excerpt featuring a tribe of grasshoppers discussing ants.

Wider View of Jumper Insects

The focus for this article has been strictly grasshoppers WRT leggy bugs. Other jumping insects are also significant. The Orthoptera order includes grasshoppers, crickets, and katydids. Grasshoppers are in the Caelifera suborder. What about locusts, you might wonder. They belong to the Acrididae family.

Difference Between Locust and Grasshopper” provides contrasts and comparisons. The most significant clarification is "The locust is a type of a grasshopper which is short horned. The grasshopper is not a type of a locust.” Visit the DifferenceBetween website for fuller explanations about these two very similar-looking insects.

What about grasshoppers and crickets? Loads of websites contrast these leggy bugs. Amateur Entomologists’ Society’s “Grasshoppers and Crickets (Order: Orthoptera)” has a good contrast list, example pictures, a distinguishing-features section, and subfamily information.

What about grasshoppers and katydids? Wannabe Entomologist’s “Grasshopper or Katydid?” has good explanations of these bugs’ features and a couple of eye-popping pics of someone handling each.

An entertaining website is “’The bug-investigation’ – Locust, grasshopper, cricket or katydid?”. The article is written as though investigating suspects in a crime. It has sections for pictures, ID cards, commonalities, clues, and conclusion.

Leggy Bugs articles:

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Leggy Bugs--Huntsman Spiders

Inspiration for a leggy bugs article about spiders came in when I spotted a news item about a very large spider found in a toddler's room (in Michigan). Visit "Mother calls experts after giant spider found in toddler's room".

In the accompanying video, a pet store worker said that it was "a mature male heteropoda venatoria … Australian huntsman spider … one of the largest spiders in the world". The clip segued to a quarter and the dead spider for size comparison. Taking a screenshot, then duplicating adjacent images of the coin, I concluded that the spider spanned almost 4 1/2 inches, about four and a half coin diameters.

In researching more about the incident and huntsman spiders, I found that their leg lengths, rather than body sizes, make up a large part of their span sizes. I'd run across "heteropoda venatoria" and "heteropoda maxima" in numerous websites, often not both on same websites. More on the taxonomy terminology farther down.

General Huntsman Spider Information

Numerous websites separately addressed huntsmen spiders as being “heteropoda venatoria” or “heteropoda maxima”. A website that shows hierarchy is Encyclopedia of Life's “Heteropoda venatoria Domestic Huntsman Spider” classifications.
  • From “Heteropoda venatoria Domestic Huntsman Spider” overview:
    commonly called the brown huntsman spider…. They are fairly large, some having a leg span of approximately five inches (13 centimetres). … Brown huntsman spiders do not spin webs. These spiders are known to hunt by waiting quietly on a vertical surface (or even a ceiling) and then rushing forward when their prey gets within close range.
  • From “Heteropoda maxima Giant Huntsman” overview:
    Winning the title of largest spider by its legs, the Giant Huntsman is twelve inches (30 cm) in diameter, the size of a dinner plate, and was discovered in Laos in 2001. This arachnid does not build a web. Stealthy and quick, it prefers to hunt for its prey and has been seen eating insects and small rodents.
"Huntsman Spiders: Low Risk • Non-Aggressive"
Fuma Pest, an Australian pest control includes an interesting tidbit—“the first 2 pairs of legs are longer than rear two”.

"Giant Spider! World's Biggest Spider Giant Huntsman Spider"
This video has good basic information about size, leg joints that contrast with tarantulas, speed, recommendations regarding disposal, and habitat. Although not mentioned in the video, that it mentions Laos and "giant" MIGHT mean the spider is "maxima" rather than merely "venatoria".

Maxima

From Latdict Latin Dictionary & Grammar Resources for "maxima"—
definition of maximus, maxima, maximum are as follows:
  greatest/biggest/largest
  highest, utmost
  leading, chief
  longest
  oldest
"Biggest" and "largest" descriptors seem appropriate for these spiders.
Some rudimentary information from RedOrbit's website “Giant Huntsman Spider”:
This is the largest spider of the genus Heteropoda. It is also the largest spider in the family Sparassidae. It has a body-length of 1.8 inches and a leg-span of 12 inches. The scientific name maxima, is derived from maximus, meaning “the largest … the legs are long compared to the body, and twist forward in a crab-like style".
LiveScience's website "Giant Huntsman Spider: World's Largest Spider By Leg Span" includes content very similar to the YouTube video "Giant Spider! World's Biggest Spider Giant Huntsman Spider".
The average huntsman spider species is about 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) long with a leg span of up to 5 inches (12.7 cm). The giant huntsman spider, however, has a leg span of up to 12 inches (30 cm), making it the largest spider by diameter; it is often described as being "the size of a dinner plate".

Because of their size, huntsman spiders are sometimes incorrectly identified as tarantulas. One way to tell a huntsman from a tarantula is by the position of the creature's legs. … Huntsman spiders' legs have twisted joints, which allow the appendages to extend forward like a crab's. Their alignment allows them to move side-to-side, further explaining the crab nickname.
Out of curiosity about the spider's size, I took a screenshot of the penny near spider, then duplicated adjacent images of the penny. I concluded that the spider spanned almost 3 3/4 inches, about five penny diameters.

Venatoria

From Latdict Latin Dictionary & Grammar Resources for "venatoria"—
definition of venatorius, venatoria, and venatorium is "of a hunter".

My usual go-to website, BugGuide, has a page for "Species Heteropoda venatoria - Huntsman Spider", but none for maxima. Compared to maxima size references, venatoria spiders look to be smaller.
Body length of adults ranges from 22-28 millimeters [.87 to 1.10"]. The long legs add considerable size; leg spans can reach 3-5 inches.
The Animal Corner website "Huntsman Spider Characteristics" mentions venatoria. The size reference is more generous than BugGuide's—"large, long-legged spiders, measuring up to 15 centimetres [almost 6"] across the legs". Additional information:
found in Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, the Mediterranean, Florida and Hawaii and possibly in many other tropical and semi-tropical regions. Adult Huntsman spiders do not build webs, however, they hunt and forage for food.
Additional Links Featuring Huntsman Spiders
  • "How to handle a Huntsman Spider - by Brennan Hatton"
    This video shows gutsy huntsman spider handler, imo. Cringeworthy, perhaps, if you wince at arachnid touchy-feelies.
  • The Spider Named After David Bowie (And It's From Malaysia, Not Mars)
    The spider, part of the tropical genus Heteropoda more commonly called the huntsman spider, has bright orange hairs on its red-brown body and legs, and sports vibrant red markings on its underside.
  • "Terrifying moment a pest controller finds huge huntsman spider and hundreds of her babies in Australia"
    This article is another Australian huntsman spider story, with a link to an artful 21-second video.
  • "Giant Banded Huntsman Spider Vs Jungle Huntsman Spider | MONSTER BUG WARS"
    Two huntsmen spiders battle to be predator winner. This fascinating video incorporates live footage, narration, and graphics simulation to explain these spiders' physical characteristics, speed, and battle capabilities against each other.
  • "12 World's Largest Spiders"
    This slide show of spiders includes narration and introductory captions. Two of the featured spiders are huntsman spiders.
  • "11 BIGGEST Spiders"
    The video's expandable description includes the transcript of the narration. The video owner lists Heteropoda maxima, a huntsman spider, as #4 for size.
  • "10 of the World’s Largest Spiders"
    This website presents static information and images in countdown from 10 to 1 “starting from the smallest of the largest, all the way to the winning monster-sized, biggest spider in the world”. The huntsman spider comes in at #2 for size.
  • "Most AMAZING Spiders In The World!"
    These spiders are truly amazing for looks and characteristics. Has some specimen overlap with "11 BIGGEST Spiders". An identifying caption spans each spider's clip. The segment about the cartwheeling spider, a huntsman spider, also shows a robot based on its movement.
  • Cartwheeling Spider Found, Inspires New Robot
    This article provides information about the cartwheeling huntsman spider, also informally referred to as the flic-flac spider.
  • "18 Creepy Facts about Arachnophobia"
    This website includes information about the search for the spider to be the star attraction in Arachnophobia. Woohoo! A huntsman spider won!
  • To find the right arachnids for the job, Marshall and his team evaluated a number of species—including wolf spiders, tarantulas, and huntsman spiders—by putting them through a “spider olympics,” running each species through 10 tests, including speed (the faster the spider, the scarier it is), climbing ability, and reaction to heat and cold. The “gold medalist,” according to Marshall, was the three-inch-wide Delena spider, a harmless but sinister-looking huntsman native to Australia that was introduced to New Zealand in the 1920s.
A Couple of Non-huntsman Spider Links
  • 10 Creepiest Spiders in Movies
    This website provides instances of spiders (mostly tarantulas) in movies, accompanied by video clips, excluding for Home Alone.
  • GIANT SPIDER Movie Montage
    The video's description attributes music scores and video clips. Eye-popping! No kidding about "GIANT".

Leggy Bugs articles:

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Leggy Bugs--Praying Mantises

This bug is a fascinating study in bug looks for more than just legginess (big 'uns). The proper spelling is "praying", not its homophone "preying". From "PRAYING MANTIS INFORMATION AND STUDY", "The name praying mantis refers to the prayer-like stance of the insect (the name is often misspelled as "preying" mantis because they are predatory)." Evidently, they're built for predation with their "grasping, spiked forelegs called 'raptorial legs' (illustration)".

Prayingmantisshop notes the flexibility of the head—"permitting nearly 300 degrees of movement in some species and allowing for a great range of vision without the need to move their bodies". As for more physical information, the site notes "Praying mantises are often confused with phasmids (stick-leaf insects) and other elongated insects". Coincidentally, my previous article is about such bugs—"Leggy Bugs--Walking Sticks".

Praying mantises are noteworthy for the following main physical features:
Bugguide.net's site "Order Mantodea - Mantids" summarizes:
Relatively large, elongate insects up to several inches long. Typical features include triangular heads with large compound eyes set on either side and usually three ocelli in between(5); very flexible articulation between the head and prothorax providing great mobility and allowing a mantid to "look over its shoulder"(6); raptorial forelegs used to capture prey.
For non-physical notable features, mantises' eating habits are carnivorous and cannibalistic. They trap and eat live prey. Some females cat males while copulating with them. Young mantises cannibalize siblings. Feast your eyes on a couple of beasty feasty links:
Mantises can be pets or garden pest control. Of interest is the availability of places that sell egg cases (eggs clumped together) that hatch into baby mantises. SSuch sites, besides The Praying Mantis Shop, also offer advice on care and feeding. Some sites as follows (not intended as endorsements) also include at least rudimentary descriptions of mantises.
You can buy egg cases even at Amazon.
Leggy Bugs articles:

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Leggy Bugs--Walking Sticks

Walking sticks are a different kind of leggy bug from others I've previously written about. These bugs look like twigs with daddy-longleggy legs and longish antennae. (Visit "Leggy Bugs--Daddy Longlegs" to read about the three bug types known as daddy longlegs.) View a walking stick navigating plant life and leaves, mostly upside down, in "Walking Stick insect!". (Towards the end, a hand enters the view, providing perspective of the subject's size and structure.)

Elementary Information in the First-Person (Bug) POV

Visit Bugfacts.net's "Walking Stick" site for elementary information from a bug's first-person narrative. The ruler and side views illustrate body part proportions. The size range is impressive—"less than 1 inch to over 1 foot in length, depending on my species." An entertaining animation video "Walking Stick • I'm a Creepy Crawly" reiterates Bugfact's basic information about walking sticks.

Life Cycle, Life Span, Male/Female Contrasts

From Bugfact's "Walking Stick" site:
three stages of development: egg, nymph and adult. The female can lay up to 150 eggs, dropping them one by one to the ground. My egg is also camouflaged and resembles a brown seed. I hatch in the spring as a nymph and resemble a tiny adult. My life span is one season.
From "Giant Walkingstick - (Megaphasma denticrus)"
In some species of Walkingstick, males ride on the backs of the females for most of their adult lives. Some types of Walkingstick females can reproduce asexually, where males are difficult to find.
Watch a stick insect emerge from its egg at "Stick Insect Hatching". The bug's uncurling and exiting is amazing to behold. You might feel exhausted from empathy after watching the six-minute video.

Size Matters

The National WildLife Federation's "Walking Sticks" states:
The biggest insects in the world are stick insects—one species measures over 20 inches long with its legs outstretched.
ABC.net's article amuses for its account of an Australian walking stick—"Australia's largest stick insect, daughter of Lady Gaga-ntuan, lays eggs at Melbourne Museum", updated January 7, 2016.
One of Lady Gaga-ntuan's offspring has now grown to become the largest known stick insect in Australia, at 56.5cm [22.24"] long.
Xinhuanet, a Chinese publication, reports "World's longest insect discovered in China", published May 5, 2016.
Zhao Li, with the Insect Museum of West China (IMWC) in Chengdu, found the 62.4-cm-long [24 inches] stick insect during a field inspection in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in 2014, breaking the record for length for all 807,625 insects discovered so far, according to the IMWC.
View "New Insect Species Breaks Record for World’s Longest" for truly up-to-date info about the size record-holding insect found in China named for Zhao Li, the scientist who found it.

If you want to see even more images and videos about walking sticks (bugs, not canes), Google image and YouTube video searches for "walking stick bug" and "walking stick insect" yield plenty. Also, BugGuide shows pictures that people submit.

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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Leggy Bugs--Daddy Longlegs

Previously, I wrote about the crane fly as a leggy buggy. At that time, I made a passing remark about them being called daddy longlegs in the UK. (A humongous crane fly that landed on my door inspired me to photograph and write up about crane flies before writing this daddy longlegs article.)

Did you know that daddy longlegs can be three types of very long-legged bugs? "Why Are They Called Daddy Longlegs?" explains.
That name is often used to describe several different creatures. For example, it may be used to describe the long-legged crane fly, which is an insect, or long-legged cellar spiders, which are true spiders. Mostly, though, daddy longlegs is used to refer to Opiliones, which are an order of arachnids also known as harvestmen. … Harvestmen have one body section and two eyes, while most spiders have two body sections and eight eyes.

The following table lists some very basic differences among them.
large crane fly cellar spider harvestman
# legs
6
8
8
wings?
y
n
n
# eyes
2
8
2
silk/web spinner?
n
y
n
body sections
head, thorax, abcomen head/thorax (cephalothorax), abdomen single section

View my pixstrip for rudimentary drawings of the bugs; the text indicates very abbreviated animal hierarchy.

"Who's the daddy? Are daddy longlegs actually spiders? Are they poisonous and how do you get rid of them?" has a few good passages that describe these bugs.
While the common English insect commonly referred to as a daddy long-legs is in fact NOT a spider, there is actually also a type of spider that is sometimes also referred to as a daddy long-legs and another type of arachnid that is also known as a daddy long-legs.

Brits generally use the word daddy long-legs to refer to craneflies – long-legged winged insects which are not spiders.
The article has sections for bird's eye views (grin) about comparing and contrasting the three bugs:
  • What are the differences between craneflies and spiders?
  • What are the similarities between harvestmen and spiders?
  • What are the differences between harvestmen and spiders?
"Daddy Longlegs: Spiders & Other Critters" provides good overview differentiations also, including the following topics:
  • Harvestmen & crane flies
  • Cellar spiders
  • Taxonomy/classification for cellar spiders, harvestmen, and crane flies
Visit BugGuide's three sites for these leggy bugs, which include tabs for taxonomy, general information, images, and US map of states indicating habitat (Data).
More resources:

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Leggy Bugs--Crane Flies

In case you spot a leggy bug that looks like a huuuuuge mosquito (REALLY huge), chances are good that it’s a non-biting, non-stinging crane fly. Within a few months of moving to Central Texas many years ago, I spotted a humongous long-legged bug that I initially thought was a daddy longlegs. However, it had six legs. I then thought it might be a Texas-sized mosquito.

Don’t they make everything bigger in this state? I avoided it, as I was afraid it’d spear me deeply! Over the years, I heard that it wasn’t a mosquito.

A few weeks ago, I spotted a humongously long-legged bug on my back storm door. I was able to take only one picture before it flew off! I estimated it to be at least 4 inches top to bottom, about the size if I held my thumb and forefinger apart as a guide. This bug, as I've been told, is a crane fly, which, incidentally, is called a daddy longlegs in UK.

Actually, I had been planning to write about daddy longlegs, the 8-legged kind. I’ve queued it up for the next article.

On LinkedIn, I requested help with IDing the bug, posting a cropped and color/contrast modified image. Two people piped up and declared it a crane fly, and pasted a couple of links. Pinning down my exact specimen’s category became really difficult. Sooooo many members in the crane fly group! The Bug Guide search for “crane fly” yielded loads of hits.

From using BG and other bug links, I’ve settled that my bug is in Arthropods (Arthropoda) > Hexapods (Hexapoda) » Insects (Insecta) > Flies (Diptera) > "Nematocera" (Non-Brachycera) > Crane Flies (Tipulomorpha) > Large Crane Flies (Tipulidae) > Tipulinae > Tipula.

Because I was able to shoot only one picture, I wondered how to gauge the size. I decided to try to replicate the photo’s background and include a measuring stick. A few days of shooting, and I came up with the composite with a superimposed reduced-opacity measuring stick, then cropped it. I’d say the crane fly measured at least four inches leg tip to leg tip, as my upper image indicates. The following pixstrip shows the integration of two main images into one.

Most of the crane fly sites I’ve run across list body lengths in mm. Most of sites regarding even the giant ones state maybe less than an inch. I’d say my bug reaches an inch or so. Anyway, one site with loads of info is “The Crane Flies (Diptera:Tipulidae of Pennsylvania)”. The section about Tibula is way at the bottom.

I think my bug resembles the Tipula disjuncta crane fly by Gayle and Jeanell Strickland. Although my bug looks ghostly white, I’m not sure how the lighting, flash-on, and my distance might have affected how it photographed. And I wish it’d been in better focus.

Piqued further about crane flies? Besides visiting the Bug Guide and Pennsylvania Crane Fly sites, buzz around the following sites.

From Entomology Today's "Mosquito Hawk? Skeeter Eater? Giant Mosquito? No, No, and No"
They have a narrow body with two long and slender wings, as well as six stilt-like legs that can be twice as long as the body. Crane flies are diverse in wing pattern, color, and size.
From "The Crane Fly vs. The Mosquito! A Case of Mistaken Identity: A Crane Fly is not a Giant Mosquito!"
It is important to differentiate between these two bugs because mosquitoes transmit diseases like West Nile virus, encephalitis and Malaria, killing millions of people worldwide each year. Crane flies cannot bite and they do not carry diseases.
SHERDOG “crane fly and mosquito” comparison info with diagram

From Wikipedia's "Crane fly" site
Adult crane flies have very long legs and a long, thin abdomen. It is very easy to accidentally break off their delicate legs when catching crane flies. Their thin legs and abdomen may help them to escape from birds who try to eat them. Females have larger abdomens in comparison to the males. The female abdomen also ends in a pointed ovipositor that looks a bit like a stinger. Crane flies cannot sting.
Crane Flies - Infraorder Tipulomorpha
View lots of images, accompanied with their scientific category names (“often referred to as ‘large’ crane flies, with 4,269 recognized species”). Also visit links at http://cirrusimage.com/ for totally distracting macro images of North American insects and spiders and accompanying summaries.

Google image search for "crane flies"

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Friday, March 31, 2017

Leggy Bugs--Inchworms

Inchworms are caterpillars in the Geometridae family of Lepidopteran larvae, which I wrote about in “Leggy Bugs—Caterpillars (Lepidopteran Larvae, which Become Butterflies and Moths)”. They have front and back leggy sections and long middles—caterpillars' version of canines' dachshund.

Wisegeek’s “What Are Inchworms?” has an overview and an image for introduction for these critters. They're leggier than adult insects, but seemingly shortchanged compared to caterpillars in my previous article. (I used the picture as a basis for my blog image.)

For a more extensive introduction to inchworm and animal categorization, Bug Guide's website for “Family Geometridae - Geometrid Moths” is a good place to start.

Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Geometroidea (Geometrid, Swallowtail Moths)
Family Geometridae (Geometrid Moths)

Although inchworms are caterpillars, their locomotion is so odd that they deserve an article all their own. Their family, Geometridae, pertains to “earth” and “measuring”. Their physiology is more specialized than the caterpillars I wrote about previously. The Bug Guide explains:
the lack of prolegs in the middle of the body necessitates the peculiar method of locomotion, drawing the hind end up to the thoracic legs to form a loop, and then extending the body forward.
An excellent video of inchworm locomotion on a flat surface is “Inchworm Walking”. The caterpillar thrusts its front section forward, pulls the rear section up to the front legs, forming a loop, then repeats the motion. Its movement makes me think of a pelvis-shape strong enough to thrust out a very long torso and head. And yet, when fully extended, the head and front “arms” are strong enough to hoist the body and legs back to immediately behind the front end. The movement also seems like something a small, self-propelled slinky might make.

From Encyclopedia.com’s "Inchworm" description of inchworm movement:
inchworms lack appendages in the middle portion of their body, causing them to have a characteristic looping gait. They have three pairs of true legs at the front end, like other caterpillars, but only two or three pairs of prolegs (larval abdominal appendages), located at the rear end. An inchworm moves by drawing its hind end forward while holding on with the front legs, then advancing its front section while holding on with the prolegs.
The Bug Guide’s “Superfamily Geometroidea - Geometrid and Swallowtail Moths” provides most explanations and descriptions at the subfamily level.

Inchworms, unlike general caterpillars, metamorphose into only moths. Sciencing’s “Inchworm Life Cycle” explains:
The thousands of moth species in the family Geometridae are often referred to as inchworms when in the caterpillar stage. … This group of moths has a complete metamorphosis: They go through four stages during their life cycle.
More website resources:
Additional videos featuring inchworms and their movements, some with interesting sways:
  • "Inchworms"
    Ability to lift their front of the body at an angle as though bending from hips.
  • INCREDIBLE INCHWORM
    Acrobatic inchworm with hoisting its body almost totally vertical on horizontal surface and other seemingly gravity-defying surface grippings.
  • Inch worm Highway
    Inchworm walking the front legs forward, then dragging the rest of the body and rear legs forward. The body forms a loop as the rear section stops just behind the front legs.
  • Inchworm
    Another great example of locomotion, this inchworm being brown-patterned.
  • The Happy Inchworm
    Animation that shows motion as push from behind, pull from front, and no separate leg movement. This video is more for entertainment, although some commenters object to the violent outcome.

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