Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Phantom Midge Larva

Whoa! Am I feeling especially transparent today or what! Time for some DVM! Up, up, up the water column I go, hey Llyod, how's it going . . . awesome, good to barely see you! Okay, almost at the surface now, yeh cycles got a bit screwed up what with all those kairomones detected. Thank my life cycle I could just deflate my hydrostatic organs (dude,shut up I don't like calling them bladders) and sink into some anoxic waters. Way to go malate cycle, nothing beats making ATP under low oxygen conditions! butI digress, I need some food, a big crunchy copepod would truly satisfy the gut right now. Let's see what's around, hmm, I could filter some detritus, there's a cladoceran, dude! check out that head gear, I must be giving off some kairomones of my own, let's see rotifers nah, heeey there's a little larva dude just like me, but smaller, must be an instar or two behind, just the right size to nab with a pair of grasping antennae, there, got it! mmm mmm mmm, delicious - hey Gaston, Christine, Lon! how's it floating! good to see you, can't talk now I'm feeling pupation coming on, I'll grok with you later!
 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Life in a Sap Bucket - Speckled Green Fruitworm Moth

The sap buckets at Westwood had quite a few of these Speckled Green Fruitworm moths, Orthosia hibisci. They overwinter as pupae in the soil, where they have been since the previous summer.
 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Oak Gallery

If you ever look closely at the leaves and twigs of an oak tree you are likely to notice numerous odd bumps, lumps, balls that almost appear to be a part of the tree. They are likely to be the galls of cynipid wasps (family Cynipidae), and in a sense, they are part of the tree. A gall is a swelling of plant tissue caused by a parasite completing part of its life cycle in the plant. They come in wide variety of forms, and the gall maker can often be identified by the appearance of the gall itself, and the plant species it's found on, without ever actually seeing gall making organism.
 
Cynipid wasps are a family of minute wasps that specialize in making galls, many of them using oaks as their hosts. Many of them also have a complex life cycle, which I've summarized below in some scribbly notes and a sketch from a previous post on Bullet Gall Wasps; many other cynipids probably share a similar life cycle. With this post I'd like to focus just on the variety of galls I found on just on oak and some of the artwork they inspired me to produce
 
Gall #1
The large hole probably indicates that the cynipid inhabiting this gall became a meal for a chickadee or other bird.
Gall #2
Gall #3
This gall differs from the others in the post in that it's not detachable (I keep thinking of that King Missle song).
Gall #4
 
Thank you for touring the Oak Gallery (please note we're closed on Mondays).