Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Brief Hiatus

Minnesota fog in the morning.
There will be no new posts this week, but they'll return next week! Stay tuned!

Update: Posts will continue on Thursday. Sorry for the delay! 
There will be no post until next week at the earliest.

Thursday, September 17, 2015


Molting Cicada, Cicadoidea
How to Molt: General Guidelines
Follow this guide and you won't end up like this poor dead sap.

1. Find a nice, quiet spot upon noticing your exoskeleton has become a tad too tight. You will notice an increased rate of protein synthesis in your epidermal cells as hormones are soon released.

2. You’ll start to feel your epidermis separate from the old endocuticle which is known as apolysis. The name might concern you, but don’t worry – it’s a normal process of molting.

3. Don’t be alarmed by the digestive action of the molting fluid! A special lipoprotein will also be secreted and create the cuticulin laye* to protect you before that molting fluid becomes active.

4. The endocuticle of the old exoskeleton will be digested, but your hard work won’t go to waste! Everything will be recycled to form a new procuticle layer underneath your cuticulin layer.

5. Take a deep breath and go! The swelling will cause your old exoskeleton to split open and give you a chance at freedom. Be careful, though. It’ll take some time before your new, slightly larger exoskeleton hardens.

6. If you just gained your wings, congratulations! Remember to dry them properly or they'll just be decoration, especially those of you with delicate, folding wings. You'll fly soon enough!

 We wish you the best of luck and hope this guide has been helpful for all your molting needs. As long as you time it right and have a perfect chemical balance, you don’t need to fear getting stuck and dying. We’ll see some of you again next time. Until then, stay safe!

Brought to you by #ScienceSunday. All your science needs, every Sunday.

It's been a busy night, so here is an almost direct re-post of my earlier post on Google+ found here (with links external instead of embedded). Hopefully it'll suffice for tonight! 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Resh Cicada

Resh Cicada, Neotibicen resh
One of the loudest cicadas, the Resh Cicada, gets its common name for the mesonotum marking that looks like the upside-down Hebrew letter Resh. Formerly Cicada resh and Tibicen resh, it was first described by S. S. Haldeman in the appendix of the report Exploration and Survey of the Valley of the Great Salt Lake of Utah, Washington and is now known as Neotibicen resh. Within S.S. Haldeman's collection were seventy-six specimens identified as the species. Resh Cicada have a range that includes Alabama to the western extremes of Texas. The voiceless females will lay their eggs in twigs. After hatching, the juveniles burrow into the soil until they emerge more than a year later. The adults feed on oak sap while the juveniles consume the tree roots underground. Resh cicadas are partial to various oak species, especially live oaks.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Oil Beetles

Oil Beetles, Meloe spp.
Within the blister beetle family, oil beetles get their common name from the yellow, oily liquid when threatened. There are 22 names species within North America and close to 150 species worldwide. They are most often found on the ground or in low foliage. The larvae feed on eggs within bees' nests.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Violet Wild Petunia

Violet Wild Petunia, Ruellia nudiflora
Violet Wild Petunia is an erect perennial found in a handful of southern states. It grows up to 0.6 m (2 ft) with lavender trumpet-shaped flowers which last only a single day. It is of the genus Ruellia within the Ancanthus family, not to be confused with the cultivated petunia of the genus Petunia of the Solanaceae family. Violet Wild Petunia blooms from April through October, both growing and spreading easily which may cause issues in some areas, especially as it can tolerate shade. It is a larval host for many butterflies including common buckeye, Cuban crescentspot, Fatima, Malachite, and White Peacock butterfly, and it is a common nectar source for many other butterflies. White-tailed deer consume the leaves while bobwhite quail will eat the seeds.

Thursday, September 3, 2015


Sachem, Atalopedes campestris
Sachem are small grass skippers reaching only up to 4.2 cm (1.6 in) with wingspan. The males are yellow-orange on the upperside while females are usually very dark with distinct yellow spotting. While the adults feed on the nectar from a variety of flowers including milkweed, buttonbush, thistle, aster, dogbane, and sunflower, the caterpillar live off grasses including Bermuda grass, Dallis grass, crabgrass, and goosegrass.

Sachem perched on car door.
Sachem are often found in the southern states down into Mexico, but may stray as far north as southern Canada during autumn migration. In recent years, their range has expanded further north and emerging earlier in the spring. They typically have three broods a year, but may have up to five broods in its more southern range. They can be seen breeding in mowed lawns and other open areas.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Narrowleaf Gumweed

Narrowleaf Gumweed, Grindelia lanceolata
Known as Narrowleaf Gumweed, Spiny-toothed Gumweed, or Fall Gumweed, it can be found blooming between the months of June and October. This native biennial is often found in limestone or rocky prairies along the eastern and southern portions of the United States. They can grow up to 1 m (3 ft) with a stem clad in narrow, lanceolate leaves with bristled teeth along the margins. The bracts of gumweed are slightly sticky hence its common name.