Monday, June 28, 2010

Time to find Gelastocoris oculatus!

Recently  on my walks around riparian areas in central Texas I've noticed tons of tiny toads, but as of yet, no Gelastocoris oculatus. The Big-Eyed Toe Bug has been on my list for several years, but for some reason I've never been in the right place at the right time. Superficially these funny little bugs resemble toad-lets, but it is hard to imagine they are gaining much benefit from this appearance. Some might suspect that Gelastocoris  mimic toads because of the toxic secretions amphibians posses, but I can't wrap my head around the idea that this entire genus would be forced to adopt a certain gestalt for the sake of avoiding a few visually guided predators. In any case, I'll be watching for a toad that isn't really a toad.

Image thanks to bugguide:

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

One Year Later, Coccinella novemnotata

About a year ago, my friend Ellen Woods took a picture of the increasingly rare Nine-Spotted Ladybug, Coccinella novemnotata. Once the most common native coccinellid, I believe this species is now extinct from large swaths of North America. At the time the photo was taken, only 13 captive specimens were known in the world. Dr. John Losey and I had just collected all of them in rural Oregon thanks to The Lost Ladybug Project. Ellen's photos made big news, and not long after Nine-Spotted Ladybugs began hatching in New York (where they are the state insect!) for the first time since the 1980s. Since I was watching the first clutch of eggs endlessly, I was lucky enough to capture that Kodak moment, below.