Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Looks like flu season has started early here. I hate having to do this, but until it passes, I'll have to take a hiatus. Sorry about that! Will try to get posting again here soon.

Monday, October 29, 2012


Scorpionflies, Panorpa nuptialis (Gerst) feeding on Wheel Bug
With a distinctive wing coloration, and an even more distinctive elongated abdomen on the males, the Scorpionfly is a very unusual insect. In addition to an elongated abdomen, the mouthparts are on the end of an elongated snout. The adults of this species feeds mainly on dead insects and animal matter, such as a dead Wheel Bug, but may be predaceous. Most species have four wings, but there are some from the Boreidae family that have no wings. They are common in marshy areas, especially in autumn for Texas. This insect is harmless as the "stinger" is used for mating purposes and cannot be used for defense.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Rainbow Lorikeet

Rainbow Lorikeet, Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus
The Rainbow Lorikeet is arguably the most identifiable bird of Australia with both males and females wearing the same bright plumage. They can be found mainly along the eastern and northern coasts of Australia, but can also be found in parts of coastal western Australia, and the southeast mainland coastline into Tasmania. Part of this large range is due to their success in the suburban and urban setting.

Rainbow Lorikeet feeding on nectar.
A fast-moving flocking bird, this parrot feeds mostly on nectar and pollen, but also fruits, seeds, and a few insects. The loud chattering and screeching is heard during communal roosts at dusk, and during feeding periods. While largely not migratory, the lorikeet may move in response to seasonal flowering.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Great Bowerbird

Great Bowerbird, Chlamydera nuchalis
The Great Bowerbird can be found along the tropical northeastern coast of Australia. The bowerbirds, Ptilonorhynchidae, are unique in their approach to male-male interactions. While some species, such as the Great Bowerbird, have some vivid feathering seen during mating season, they are best known for creating wondrous bachelor pad-like nests. These nests serve no other purpose than to attract a female for mating. Using any colorful item available, readily including litter, they spend the majority of their time rearranging and decorating the area. Decorations are often stolen by other males competing in the same area and may be used as indications of the social status. The number of decorations, and therefore male fitness, are useful for females in mating decisions. While each species of bowerbird varies in nest construction and decoration color preference, the goal is the same for all.

The Great Bowerbird prefers reds and greens. I never found out if this one was banded with the same colors as a joke, or for a purpose.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Scarlet Honeyeater

♂ Scarlet Honeyeater, Myzolema sanguinolenta
The Scarlet Honeyeater, or Blood bird, can be found all along the east coast of Australia, but is a summer migrant only south of Sydney. This species lives mainly in woodlands and open forest, especially near wetlands, but can also be found in rainforests and urban areas. The name honeyeater comes from its diet of nectar, fruit, and the occasional insect. Scarlet Honeyeaters exhibit distinct sexual dimorphism, similar to Painted Buntings, with vivid red and black males versus dull brown and white females. While both genders call, only the males have the distinct silvery tinkling song. As with other honeyeaters, the Scarlet Honeyeater plays an important role in pollination.

It has been awhile since I last wrote on Australia so this week I'll be focusing on three different bird species.

Friday, October 19, 2012

White's Tree Frog

White's Tree Frog, Litoria caerulea
White's Tree Frog, also known as Dumpy Tree Frog, or Australian Green Tree Frog, has a range from Australia into Papua New Guinea to Indonesia. The nickname dumpy comes from fat layers that grow on the top of the head when overfed. As with other tree frogs, this species has large adhesive pads on their fingers and toes making them excellent climbers. While a tropical species, the Australian Green Tree Frog can live in  arid areas. This is in part due to the waxy cuticle skin of the frog preventing water evaporation.

This species is a common sight in zoos, aquariums, and other similar institutions due to the ease of care and the education value. While this particular frog lives in Texas, the species as a whole is from Australia.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cobweb Spider: Theridiidae

Cobweb Spider, Steatoda triangulosa
Known as cobweb spiders, tangle-web spiders, or comb-footed spiders, the highly diverse family Theridiidae makes great use of three-dimensional webs. The diversity of this family is not limited to just species numbers, but also the behavior, ecology, and morphology of the group. Famous members of this family include the Black Widow of the genus Latrodectus, the common house spider, kleptoparasitic spiders, and most social spiders. These are also the spiders famous for liquefying the organs of their prey with digestive fluids leaving only an empty shell.

Monday, October 8, 2012


Ant on Autumn SageSalvia greggii
Gone for the week. I'll be back to posting next week! Here's a simple picture for your enjoyment until then.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Carioquinhas Waterfalls

Cachoeiras Carioquinhas (Carioquinhas Waterfalls)
What the Carioquinhas Waterfalls do not have in height, they have in width. As a watershed of the Amazon basin, Parque Nacional da Chapada dos Veadeiros is full of river valleys. Of these, the Black River, a tributary of the Tocantins, has one of the biggest impacts. Many of the waterfalls, including the Carioquinhas, are part of the Black River.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Carioquinhas Waterfalls

Cachoeiras Carioquinhas (Carioquinhas Waterfalls)

Located in Parque Nacional da Chapada dos Veaderios, Carioquinhas is just one of many waterfalls that can be found within the 265 km² World Heritage Site.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Orbweaver: Neoscona

Hentz's Orbweaver, Neoscona crucifera
The genus Neoscona, the spotted orbweavers, contains seven species within the United States and Canada. While a "barn spider" is often referenced for Araneus cavaticus, those within Neoscona are sometimes collectively called barn spiders. This is in part due to some near indistinguishable species within the Araneus and Neoscona, where only careful examination of the carapace differentiates the two. While some orb weavers are visible for the majority of the year, this particular species, Neoscona crucifera, is more apparent as the weather starts to change from hot summer to cooler autumn. As a nocturnal spider species, it is also less likely to be seen on its web during the day.