It's definitely a moth, and it definitely didn't look like this in life - this is typically what happens when the moth falls into a puddle, or a cat plays with it. Basically, all the hair has been lost from the body, and all the scales have gone from the wings - I would suspect something like a Dark Arches

Rosalia alpina is, as far as I know, the only species with this colouration in Europe - there are other, very similar, Rosalia species but they aren't European. Rosalia alpina is found in Slovenia, where it's a protected species

Yes, a mating pair of Poplar Hawks - the female is uppermost, larger and paler than the male

It's one of the Trichius species, a bee-mimic scarab beetle. There are two species in Britain, and more on the Continent - unfortunately the species are very similar and the taxonomy is rather confused at a species level

Yes, all female bumblebees can and do sting! 

As for Vapourers, like most flightless moths (there are quite a few, even just in the UK), the larvae are the dispersive stage - as John mentioned, they use a technique known as ballooning, whereby the first-instar larvae spin a long thread of silk and are dispersed by the air currents - they have no control over where they land, and consequently most wingless species have very wide ranges of foodplants, so that they can eat whatever they land on

It depends on the species!  Some scorpions are primarily stingers, others mainly use their claws,and all will use either their claws or sting if threatened and unable to escape. In general, the mainly-stingers have smaller claws than those which primarily use their claws to subdue prey

You don't say whereabouts you are, but my garden in Oxfordshire, UK has large numbers of the dark springtail Orchesella cincta in the leaf litter, behaving in a way very similar to that which you describe

(posted in Human Biology and Evolution)

I suspect that the changing growth rate is a myth, but shaving does produce flat-ended hairs which look look darker and thicker as they regrow than the more tapered shape of 'normal' hairs, which may be where the myth comes from

It's a beetle larva larva of some sort, probably a chrysomelid (leaf beetle) of some sort, given the use of the anal sucker for locomotion. Can't say much more from the photo though

These are beetle eggs, very probably those of the lily beetle, Lilioceris lilii, which can be a pest of garden lilies and of snakes-head fritillaries. I've never heard of them eating chives though!

This is a yellow dung-fly, Scathophaga stercoraria. They're quite common (particularly in livestock fields) throughout the year, but the adults are predatory on other insects, so possibly they were following the food for those few days

There are 2,400 species of Lepidoptera (butterflies & moths) in Britain alone, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, worldwide. Can you help us trim the odds a bit? Where did you find it? (I don't know where your room is!), when did it appear, how big it is, and what, if anything, it was eating are all basically essential. 

A good view of the side so that we can see how many pairs of legs it has, and how they're arranged, would also be useful - different moth families have different leg arrangements, and some other groups (such as sawflies) have similar larvae but more legs.

It looks rather like a Lymantriidae species, but that's rather dependent on the answers to the questions above!

I'm no expert on vertebrates, but it looks like a rib from a marine turtle to me

There's no species that I know of, of any species, butterfly or otherwise, which does as you describe, and it seems most unlikely - insects generally survive through weight of numbers, but by laying many eggs, not by subdividing - that generally only happens with microscopic-scale organisms like bacteria, etc.

Convention is to regard seperate individuals as independent, even when they have the same DNA - eg, species which reproduce clonally such as bacteria, hydras, etc.  Eusocial species such as the ants and bees you mention are sometimes know as superorganisms, where the entire colony can be regarded as a giant organism made up of seperate individuals, but these individuals are still regarded as independent organisms in their own right

In many species (eg birds) the pair bond is also important in raising the chances of successful offspring-raising.  If the males were only to 'rape' as many females as possible, without contributing to the rearing, they'd still be less likely to actually pass on as many genes as an equivalent male which mates with one female and instead spends its time feeding her and the offspring.

Additionally, many species where forcible copulation is a major strategy have evolved 'countermeasures' so that females can still exercise some element of control - for example, female chickens can expel the male's ejaculate after copulation if she doesn't like the look of him.  As with most other evolutionary systems, a state which benefits one side but disadvantages the other turns into an arms race, rather than a stable state.

For species-level ID of South African wildlife you're better off posting the pictures on the South African version of iSpot, Top photo's not Eristalis tenax, which is common here - wing veination looks wrong for Syrphidae in general, though I don't know the tropical fauna

You're best off putting it outside somewhere cool but not freezing - sheds, porches or the inside of evergreen bushes are ideal.  Most insects are fine with below-freezing temperatures anyway, especially if they have time to acclimitise - they survived outside for millions of years, after all!

You don't say where you are in the world, and this is not a great angle to identify wasps from (the thorax and face have the useful features). Having said that, assuming you're in Britain, that looks reasonable for the common wasp, Vespula vulgaris. The nests usually die over the winter, so it would be unusual for it to still be active in December

(posted in Plants & Fungi)

There's a fair few plants which are parasitic (toothworts, for example), and contain no chlorophyll, so quite possibly are only geosensitive rather than photosensitive

(posted in Birds)

The Barn Owl Conservation Trust suggest that the white underside is probably a form of camouflage - when looking up at them, birds almost always appear as a dark silhouette, so to minimise this, it's best to be a pale color such as white. You can see the same thing in WW2 aircraft - green and brown above, pale blue underneath

We need more information to be sure - a location, some idea of scale, and a clear picture would be useful - but there are a few candidates for small dark hopping things in the soil - mainly springtails (Collembola, Diplura and Thysanura), but landhoppers (Arcitalitrus dorieni) are a definite possibility, especially if you're in southwest Britain (or south London) - they do occur elsewhere but those are the British hotspots

This looks like a moth from the family Arctidae, the tiger moths, although Zygaenidae (the Burnets) is a possibility. There are around 7000 moth species recorded from South Africa, and I'm no expert on them, so others may know more.

It's a House Centipede of some sort - the commonest is usually Scutigera coleoptrata

Looks like a cockroach nymph, so Blattodea, rather than Hemiptera. Can't be entirely sure from the picture - check the mouthparts to be sure, cockroaches have jaws while hemiptera have a drinking-straw-like rostrum

This is a giant water bug, in the family Belostomatidae - has more information on the family. They have a fairly painful bite, so watch out when you move it to a safe place!

The 'whole fossil record' is every fossil, so much of it is not online

It's one of the squashbugs, Leptoglossus sp. - probably Leptoglossus occidentalis, but there are other species in the US. They don't bore into plants, but feed on the leaves

Additionally many coastal universities will cover both terrestrial and marine ecology in ecology degrees and similar, especially where you can choose the modules

Gender in animals is defined by chromosomes, so even the species which only have one 'type' still have a gender - there are many species which do this, including bdelloid rotifers and several parasitic wasps, including Dinocampus coccinellae, one of my study species.

Are you sure this flew off? Doesn't look like a member of any group of insects that I'm aware of, and 10cm is huge

They're aestivating (a form of 'summer hibernation').  When conditions are dry, and so unfavourable to species like snails which need moisture, some species of snail will climb up trees, fence posts, etc, seal themselves to the substrate, and tuck themselves as far back in their shells as they can go, to minimise moisture loss and predation risk.  Once conditions improve - more foodplants or moisture in the environment - the snails will wake and wander off.

Other species which are better-adapted to drought carry a 'door' with them (the operculum), which they use to seal themselves in, rather than having to attach to a substrate - many rocky-shore or freshwater snails have them to be prepared for low tide or lakes drying up.

It's a crustacean of some sort, closely related to the sandhoppers that you see hopping around the high tide line - in fact, it may be the same species, as they're quite tolerant of brackish water and can be found a fair way up estuaries. 

I don't know enough about the Spanish fauna to identify it to species though!

You don't say where in the world you are, and it's hard to make out many details in the photo because it's so blurry, but it seems to have one pair of wings and short antennae, which makes it a fly of some sort. It could possibly be a hoverfly, judging by the big eyes and stripiness.

Utetheisa pulchelloides is an Indo-Australian species, but it has a sister species, the Crimson Speckled (Utetheisa pulchella), which is native to, and widespread in, the Mediterranean area (and an occasional visitor to Britain). See

It's certainly one of the Silphinae subfamily of carrion beetles, but it's very difficult to separate the species as larvae

The first pic is a beetle larva, probably a carabid species (ground beetles), and the second is a male Oak Bush-cricket

The narrow waist is a characteristic feature of all ants, bees and wasps, so if it didn't have one, it's not in that group, which only really leaves us with wasp mimics, either a hoverfly or a sawfly. The two commonest species which are mistaken for wasps are the greater horntail (Uroceras gigas) and the hornet-mimic hoverfly Volucella zonaria, which sounds most like your description. Neither species is at all harmful to people

(posted in Evolution)

Usually something along the lines of an evolutionary biologist, though as evolution is such a basic tenet of biology it touches on a huge amount of biological science

I don't know the North American fauna particularly well, but it sounds like you're describing rat-tailed maggots, which are the larvae of some of the Eristalis genus of hoverflies - the flagellum is actually a siphon to allow the larva to breathe in stagnant, oxygen-depleted water

(posted in Birds)

There are also many species of birds which can fly higher than eagles, including several species of waterbird - the absolute altitude record is held by a Ruppell's griffon vulture which was hit by a plane at 37,900 feet, so if eagles can fly over a storm, so could various other species.  However, the main reason predatory birds like eagles fly high is to spot prey - if there's a cloud in the way, it's not much use them being up there!

This is a leafhopper - if it were in Britain I'd be looking at Ledra aurita, but France is likely to have various similar species

It's a very small picture, but yes, looks like the harmless sawfly Uroceras gigas

I don't know much about the dinosaur angle, but generally the reason animals on islands are smaller than ancestral mainland species is because those on islands have reduced in size, rather than the mainland species increasing - a phenomenon known as island dwarfism, which is relatively well-known.

As for your second point, if a giant humanoid skeleton was discovered, it would be publicised as widely as possible by the discoverers, not swept under the carpet - the whole point of science is to discover new things and challenge the status quo!

Not Tachina grossa, which is hairier and isn't as yellow as this fly - this is one of the Volucella species of hornet-mimic hoverflies, either Volucella inanis or V. zonaria. It's hard to say from these photos, but it seems to have a dark first abdominal segment, which would make it V. zonaria. They're completely harmless, just big!

This sounds like a horsefly, probably one of the Chrysops species

Your top pic is indeed a hoverfly larva, potentially Episyrphus balteatus

Yes, very early instar katydid (bush cricket) - there's a vague possibility it could be a true cricket (Gryllidae), as you need to check the tarsal segmentation, but they don't usually have quite this shape

I have been bitten by Dysdera (probably D. crocata, but it didn't hang around to be checked!), and it was similar to a nettle sting, but that was with the provocation of accidentally almost crushing it when looking for woodlice.  As Dave says, stick it back into the garden and it'll be fine

You don't say where in the world you are, but if you're in Britain then this is the Woodlouse spider, Dysdera crocata. As the name suggests, this is a species which eats woodlice, and is harmless to humans (although you could probably make it try to bite you if you provoke it enough). Certainly no need to kill them!

It also depends on the spider species. In general, spiders don't want to catch anything that's too big, as it's likely to be hard and dangerous to tackle, so smaller species of spider have weak webs that bees, etc, can fly straight through.  However, larger species spin stronger webs which can catch fairly chunky insects - the wasp spider Argiope bruennichi is a relatively new arrival in Britain and I've certainly seen bush crickets and solitary bees in their webs, although bumblebees might be a bit tricky!