From the monthly archives: "September 2008"

desert wiggle-womper
in the desert of southern Utah i like to take the kidz out for a hike every now and then. there is a place on top of a messa where there is a lot of petrified wood and indian arrowhead and just really neat things to find and discover. Well any how. there is a place on top of some sandstone clifs where water will gather in various pockets that create a shallow pond of water. there are only 2 places that i have found that the water will stay in for more thain two or so weeks. this little pool right now is dry, so i gathered a jar of dirt and brought it home to put in a bucket of water. 2 dyas later boom!!! these cool little bugs hatched out and about doubled in size every day. the one on my hand is approx. 2 weeks old.
I can give you more ifo on just what i have observed, but cand put my finger on what to call them. i figure they can obviously live in dry sand for many years.
Phil Dunn
Southern Utah

Tadpole Shrimp: Dorsal View

Tadpole Shrimp: Dorsal View

Hi Phil,
We are very excited to get your letter and wonderful photos. Your creatures are Crustaceans known as Triops or Tadpole Shrimp. Triops are a very ancient life form that have developed a unique survival strategy. They often live in areas where there is limited or sporadic rainfall. Much like your home experiment, when water fills a dried up pond with the seasonal rains, the dormant eggs hatch and quickly develop to maturity. Adult Triops then mate and lay eggs that will eventually dry up awaiting the next rain. We have found a Triops Information Page on the internet that indicates the species Triops longicaudatus is found in the Western U.S., Central and South America. Encyclopedia Britannica Online mentions a species Triops cancriformis, but sadly, we have not paid for our Encyclopedia online access so we cannot read the information. We do have our ancient hard copy of Encyclopedia Britannica dating from 1956 that includes some information on the genus Triops under the subject heading of Branchiopoda, a subclass of the Crustaceans that includes other primitive forms like Fairy Shrimp, Clam Shrimp and Water Fleas. Tadpole Shrimp are in the order Notostraca and are characterized by the “broad, shield-shaped carapace covering the fore part of the body.” We feel compelled at this point to bring up the controversial “E” word. We personally believe that due to the nature of the life cycle of the Triops, isolated populations do not share gene pools, potentially giving rise to different species and subspecies that have Evolved independently of one another from distant shared ancestors. In the interest of opposing view points, it is also possible that individual populations of Triops were Created about 7000 years ago.

Tadpole Shrimp: Ventral View

Tadpole Shrimp: Ventral View

Comment from a sensitive reader
January 28, 2010
Creationism
Triops – ” In the interest of opposing view points, it is also possible that individual populations of Triops were Created about 7000 years ago.” OOOPS! Seems that I have mistaken “What’s That Bug,” for a scientific web site posting real and reliable information and not ancient mythology. Thanks for clearing that up. If that statement isn’t sarcasm I would like to see your empirical, testable evidence for separate creations about 7000 years ago. I have considered donating but I never donate to creation lies.
Disappointed

Dear Disappointed,
It always leaves us greatly troubled when we hear that we have disappointed a loyal reader, especially one who has had to delve deep into our archives to single out a single posting or comment that would justify a boycott.  We have been following the story about the parent from the Menifee Union School District in Riverside County, California that complained about the Merriam Webster College Dictionary containing a definition for oral sex and had the dictionary pulled from the fourth and fifth grade classrooms.  Thankfully, the school district came to its senses and returned the dictionary to the classroom.  You may read the story in the LA Times.  We also need to clarify that we are not a scientific website, though we have a deep love and respect for science.  Alas, we are artists with no scientific credentials, and we do enjoy pushing buttons with some of our responses, though we must say that those we offend generally tend toward the conservative end of the spectrum.  We would like to request that you read our Mating Slugs response and subsequent controversy and judge for yourself on the subject of sarcasm.

Dear WTB,  Daniel Marlos,
Thank you for your response and the link to the mating slugs.  That post did answer my questions and has put me back in good relations with WTB.  I live in the reddest, functionally ignorant, part of the bible belt where the battle to keep creationists out of the schools is a daily concern.  It’s a serious ongoing battle here and has become tedious over time.  I hope that you will forgive my jumping to conclusions about your message and I will certainly continue to enjoy the art, sarcasm, humor, and good science found in WTB !  . . . and maybe even reconsider that donation.
Thank you,
Much Less Disappointed

Dear Much Less Disappointed,
While we are comforted to find out we are once again in your good graces, we are a bit troubled by the contempt you have worded in your recent response.  Perhaps we are a bit more sensitive because we watched the award winning film Crash last night, a film that shined a light on racial intolerance, profiling and hatred in our own beloved city of Los Angeles, or perhaps it is because we teach at Los Angeles City College where we celebrate diversity and difference, but we can’t help but wonder why you would ever try to exclude anyone from a school.  While our website is primarily concerned with the identification of insects and their appreciation, we hope that we can educate the public about tolerance of the lower beasts, but at the same time, we hope that the tolerance we foster is broader, and includes people with whose opinions and life styles we might disagree.  We also strongly support the separation of church and state, but that is sometimes difficult in a country that was founded due in a large part to religious persecution in the old world.

Dear WTB,  Daniel Marlos,
I believe we are much closer in our positions than you might think.  This is a reason I dislike correspondence by email, it just doesn’t convey the full intent of the message.  The more people in school the better as far as I’m concerned, esp. Creationists.  Please read as Creationism where I wrote Creationists in my earlier post.  Diversity is a good thing that gives us new ideas and experiences.  Freedom of speech, ideas, and expression allows a sort of natural selection to occur where the fittest survive and ideas that work replace those that don’t.  In the way you mention tolerance, it is an issue that we are very closely aligned on and I applauded you in that area on your being one of the few persons that I have ever seen taking a stance on this issue that is also important to myself.  I recently spent ten years living in L.A. and I think that the general tolerance and diversity that I became used to in that area have left me with a short temper for those that fight those ideas it in the mid-west.  Can we be intolerant of intolerance?   Rest assured that noone is being excluded from any schools that I know of, only ideas that are contrary to learning and dogmas that stifle the imagination and bind man to the mistakes of his past.  ” . . . we hope that the tolerance we foster is broader, and includes people with whose opinions and life styles we might disagree.”  as do I, my intent is only to prevent those various opinions from being made law and forced on anyone who does not want them esp. when they have a history of being unworkable.
Thank you,
MLD

Dear MLD,
Thanks for the clarification on the belief of Creationism, as opposed to the believer, a Creationist, with regards to your previous letter.  We do feel that beliefs that are not backed by solid quantifiable data, regardless of the number of believers, should NOT be taught in public schools.

Dear WTB,  Daniel Marlos,
I think I know what you mean here and I’m hoping that it’s a typo.  Something like my having used a ‘ist’ instead of an ‘ism.’  “should be taught in public schools.”   I’m hoping that you meant, ‘should NOT.’
… Thank you,
MLD

Wow, thanks for catching that error.  We reworded the beginning of the sentence and wound up needing a double negative.
Daniel

Dear WTB,  Daniel Marlos,
After starting off disappointed I can now say that I have truly enjoyed our correspondence and find WTB an enjoyable as well as informative site.  I only wish that we could have spent some of the time on our mutually favored subject, entomology.  Seeing that I do spend a bit of time in L.A. perhaps sometime we can.  Thank you for taking the time to explain your position and hearing mine.
Best,
MLD

Ed Note:  For more news on the controversy brewing in our schools, see http://www.oklascience.org/, http://www.aibs.org/mailing-lists/the_aibs-ncse_evolution_list_server.html, and http://www.oklascience.org/OESE_membership_form.pdf
Dear WTB,  Daniel Marlos,
On the odd chance that you are interested in this subject I am forwarding a local news letter to which you can subscribe if you want and see what the conterversy is all about.  It costs nothing to recieve the news letter.
To subscribe go to [ okevol-on@okevol.talklist.com ]. When your email program starts up, enter subscribe in the body of the message, then send the email.
MLD

Greetings,
While mushroom picking this September on the north-eastern shore of Lake Winnipeg, I found this Hallowe’en coloured beetle along with some carrion beetles munching on a rotting Boletus badius.
Would you identify it for me please?
Thanks,
C. Peniuta

Burying Beetle

Burying Beetle

Hi C,
This is a Burying Beetle in the genus Nicrophorus.  They feed on carrion but are also attracted to rotting fungus.

Yellow and Black Bug
Hi. I’ve loved taking pictures of strange insects, etc. and I came across this bug (and several others in clusters) in my Iris flower bed a few weeks ago. Could you please identify it for me? I’d greatly appreciate it.
Dawn from OK
Talala, OK US

Tortoise Beetle Larva on Iris

Tortoise Beetle Larva on Iris

Hi Dawn,
This is a Leaf Beetle Larva in the family Chrysomelidae. We are nearly certain it is one of the Tortoise Beetles in the subfamily Cassidinae. We found a photo on BugGuide that is a very close match. Sadly, we haven’t the time to research the exact species that feeds on iris at the moment, but perhaps one of our readers will submit a comment.

Red, deer-headed fly – non-archived! Intriguing!
Hello again!  I hope you take a look at this email, as I’ve never seen anything like this fly in my life.  I checked through a great deal of your extensive archives, and even the Hanging Thief, with its similar coloration, was not a match.
I haven’t seen another one since I saw this one.  It was beautiful, but kind of creeped me out because of its very strange way of moving – it moved in little jerks, and continually rotated its wings and halteres in this slow fanning motion while standing (maybe this is normal but I’ve never seen it).  I’ve attached an admittedly short and low-quality video to illustrate these motions – if you have enough inbox space and would like to see better video, I’d be glad to share my nicer files with you.
In case it helps in the identification, there were lots of full trash cans and some animal excrement nearby.  Vegetation around the place I saw it is primarily pines, oaks, sweetgums, maples, etc., and cultivated plants as well: ornamental grasses, magnolias, mulch, and redbuds, among others.
Until I figure out what it is, I’ve been calling it the Fawn Fly because its head shape and markings remind me of a deer fawn.  I’d love to know what it really is! Thanks,
R. Thompson

Picture Winged Fly

Picture Winged Fly

Hi R,Your interesting fly is a Picture Winged Fly, Delphinia picta.  According to BugGuide, it breeds in decaying organic matter like compost.

orange and violet ground spider
found these spiders under a rock in our backyard never seen one before and cant find anything online to identify them
Drew Audas
Wimberley, Tx (hill country)

Harvestman

Harvestman

Hi Drew,
This is some species of Harvestman in the order Opiliones.  Harvestmen are sometimes called Daddy Long Legs, and they are related distantly to spiders.

Buck Moth – Hemileuca graffini
I live close to Page AZ (northern AZ) and the last few days these beautiful moths have been hatching. They are flying all over Page and the surrounding area. Thanks to your great website, I think I have identified it as a Hemileuca graffini. Keep up the great work!
Carol
Page, AZ (northern AZ)

Buck Moth

Buck Moth

Hi Carol,
Thanks for sending us your lovely Buck Moth image. We are happy our site enabled you to identify your specimen as Hemileuca griffini.  We may have a typo on our original posting of this species.  We believe this might also be the Hera Buck Moth, Hemileuca hera, based on images on the Butterflies and Moths of North America website