Invertebrata

Invertebrate education and photography

August 17, 2014 12:40 am
rhamphotheca:

The incredible honey hunters of the Himalayan foothills
by Bec Crew
Twice a year, locals in central Nepal risk their lives high up in the Himalayan foothills to harvest honey produced by the world’s largest honeybee.
Growing up to 3 cm (1.2 in) in length, the Himalayan cliff honey bee of Nepal is the world’s largest honeybee. 
Found only in the foothills of the Himalayas, building their homes at altitudes of between 2,500 and 3,000 m (8,200 and 9,800 ft) and foraging as high up as 4,100 m (13,500 ft) above the ground, these insects have a unique ability to thrive at incredible heights.
The Himalayan cliff honey bee is the only species in the world to produce a type of honey called red spring honey, and it cannot be reproduced by commerical beekeepers due to the high altitudes that give it its unique properties. Said to be "intoxicating and relaxing", red spring honey is understandably very valuable, and twice a year, honey hunters from the Gurung population of Nepal risk their lives to harvest it up in the foothills…
(read more: Science Alert! - Australia and New Zealand)
photo by Andrew Newey

rhamphotheca:

The incredible honey hunters of the Himalayan foothills

by Bec Crew

Twice a year, locals in central Nepal risk their lives high up in the Himalayan foothills to harvest honey produced by the world’s largest honeybee.

Growing up to 3 cm (1.2 in) in length, the Himalayan cliff honey bee of Nepal is the world’s largest honeybee. 

Found only in the foothills of the Himalayas, building their homes at altitudes of between 2,500 and 3,000 m (8,200 and 9,800 ft) and foraging as high up as 4,100 m (13,500 ft) above the ground, these insects have a unique ability to thrive at incredible heights.

The Himalayan cliff honey bee is the only species in the world to produce a type of honey called red spring honey, and it cannot be reproduced by commerical beekeepers due to the high altitudes that give it its unique properties. Said to be "intoxicating and relaxing", red spring honey is understandably very valuable, and twice a year, honey hunters from the Gurung population of Nepal risk their lives to harvest it up in the foothills…

(read more: Science Alert! - Australia and New Zealand)

photo by Andrew Newey

August 16, 2014 10:33 pm

libutron:

Spurge hawkmoth - Hyles euphorbiae

The Spurge hawkmoth, Hyles euphorbiae (Sphingidae), was the first classical biological agent released against leafy spurge in the United States, with approval for introduction granted in 1965. The moth was also introduced from Europe into Ontario, Canada, to help control various weed spurges, and then into Alberta where specimens are occasionally still taken.

Originally the Spurge hawkmoth occurs from south and central Europe to central Asia. 

Caterpillars may approach 10 cm in length, and are variously patterned with green, yellow, and black (young); or red, black, yellow, and white (older). They are distinctive by having the so-called “ring-spots” (spots that lack a nucleus), which is thought to have an aposematic function, being used as signals of distastefulness. 

The body of the adult moths is light brown with various white and dark brown markings, while the wings have a conspicuous tan, brown, and pink or red color pattern. The upperside of the hindwing is a rosy-pink, but there is a great deal of variation among the adults.

References: [1] - [2]

Photo credit: [Top: ©Adam Gor | Locality: Nagykovácsi, Pest, Hungary, 2013] - [Bottom: ©Tony Morris | St. Margaret’s at Cliffe, England, 2007]

(via rhamphotheca)

August 15, 2014 12:26 am

cool-critters:

Rhododendron leafhopper (Hraphocephala fennahi)

The Rhododendron leafhopper, so named as it feeds on the sap of rhododendrons, is native to the USA. The species was introduced to Great Britain in the 1930s and continental Europe in the 1970s. photo credits: André Karwath aka Aka, insects, insektoid

(via rhamphotheca)

August 12, 2014 6:22 pm
rhamphotheca:

This Extreme Antarctic Insect Has the Tiniest Genome
by Stephanie Pappas
The Antarctic midge is a simple insect: no wings, a slender black body and an adult life span of not much more than a week.
So perhaps it’s fitting the bug is now on record as the owner of the tiniest insect genome ever sequenced. At just 99 million base pairs of nucleotides (DNA’s building blocks), the midge’s genome is smaller than that of the body louse — and far more miniscule than the human genome, which has 3.2 billion base pairs.
(Though the midge’s genome still dwarfs the smallest of all genomes on record, which belongs to a bacterium that lives inside insects and contains just 160,000 base pairs.)…
(read more: Live Science)
photograph: Richard E. Lee, Jr.

rhamphotheca:

This Extreme Antarctic Insect Has the Tiniest Genome

by Stephanie Pappas

The Antarctic midge is a simple insect: no wings, a slender black body and an adult life span of not much more than a week.

So perhaps it’s fitting the bug is now on record as the owner of the tiniest insect genome ever sequenced. At just 99 million base pairs of nucleotides (DNA’s building blocks), the midge’s genome is smaller than that of the body louse — and far more miniscule than the human genome, which has 3.2 billion base pairs.

(Though the midge’s genome still dwarfs the smallest of all genomes on record, which belongs to a bacterium that lives inside insects and contains just 160,000 base pairs.)…

(read more: Live Science)

photograph: Richard E. Lee, Jr.

August 10, 2014 9:05 pm

astronomy-to-zoology:

Libelloides macaronius

…is a species of Ascalaphine (Split-eyed) owlfly which occurs throughout parts of Europe and Asia. Like other owlflies L. macaronius is an insectivore and will feed on a variety of flying insects. L. macaronius larvae, on the other hand, are antlion-like ambush predators. 

Classification

Animalia-Arthropoda-Insecta-Neuroptera-Ascalaphidae-Libelloides-L. macaronius

Images: Sebaho and Srđan Mitić

(via rhamphotheca)

August 9, 2014 7:39 pm
alphynix:

Newly-described anomalocaridid Lyrarapax unguispinus. Just 12cm long (4.7in), the fossils of this 520 million-year-old Chinese species have exquisitely-preserved brains — the structure of which help to confirm a shared ancestry with velvet worms and basal arthropods.

All the reference images I could find focus on the underside of Lyrarapax, so this reconstruction is pretty speculative regarding the head shield shape and possible dorsal flaps.

And while the brain discovery is really neat, look at those flippers! While Schinderhannes looks like an anomalocaridid trying to be a fish, Lyrarapax almost looks like one trying to be a penguin.

alphynix:

Newly-described anomalocaridid Lyrarapax unguispinus. Just 12cm long (4.7in), the fossils of this 520 million-year-old Chinese species have exquisitely-preserved brains — the structure of which help to confirm a shared ancestry with velvet worms and basal arthropods.

All the reference images I could find focus on the underside of Lyrarapax, so this reconstruction is pretty speculative regarding the head shield shape and possible dorsal flaps.

And while the brain discovery is really neat, look at those flippers! While Schinderhannes looks like an anomalocaridid trying to be a fish, Lyrarapax almost looks like one trying to be a penguin.

(via rhamphotheca)

6:50 pm
libutron:

Naninia banggaiensis
This beautiful land snail belongs to the species Naninia banggaiensis (Stylommatophora - Ariophantidae), which is only known from Indonesia.
Reference: [1] 
Photo credit: ©John Slapcinsky | Locality: Peleng Island, Indonesia (2008)

libutron:

Naninia banggaiensis

This beautiful land snail belongs to the species Naninia banggaiensis (Stylommatophora - Ariophantidae), which is only known from Indonesia.

Reference: [1

Photo credit: ©John Slapcinsky | Locality: Peleng Island, Indonesia (2008)

(via rhamphotheca)

August 7, 2014 7:02 pm

astronomy-to-zoology:

Myrmecothea myrmecoides

…is a unique and unusual species of Picture-winged fly (Ulidiidae) which is native to the Northeast United States. Like other picture-winged flies M. myrmecoides larvae likely feed on decaying organic matter and adults most likely feed on nectar. Myrmecothea myrmecoides is a noted ant mimic, mimicking an ant almost perfectly. It is yet unknown what benefit this mimicry serves M. myrmecoides. 

Classification

Animalia-Arthropoda-Insecta-Diptera-Acalyptratae-Tephritoidea-Ulidiidae-Otitinae-Cephaliini-Myrmecothea-M. myrmecoides

Images: © Lynn Bergen and © Katja Schulz

August 6, 2014 11:17 pm

libutron:

Blue-rayed Metalmark - Lyropteryx apollonia

Lyropteryx apollonia (Riodinidae) is one of those butterflies that are equally striking whether they are seen from both the upperside (top photo) or the underside (bottom photo) of the wings.

In addition to its stunning look, these butterflies have a peculiar behavior. Males are occasionally seen visiting sewage seepages or urine-soaked ground. They drink using the “filter-feeding” method, whereby they imbibe almost continually, extracting salts from mineral-rich patches of ground, or from the edges of puddles. Periodically they squirt the demineralized water from their anus, curving their abdomen so as to aim the liquid at the ground beneath their feet. There it leaches more minerals from the ground, which are re-imbibed. This process is continuous and the butterflies often recycle the same fluid many times during a period of several minutes.

The Blue-rayed Metalmark is widely distributed throughout the tropical regions of South America including Colombia, western and southern Brazil, Peru, and Bolivia.

Reference: [1]

Photo credit: [Top: ©Jeffrey Glassberg | Locality: Apuya, Napo, Ecuador (2013)] - [Bottom: ©Andrew Neild | Locality: Apuya track off the main road from Tena to Puyo, Ecuador (2013)]

(via somuchscience)