(posted in Mammals)

Agreeing with David, i suggest you perhaps run the experiment and compare our expectations (that a given rat with unlimited food will soon get satisfied) with that of your biology teacher (that one with unlimited food will continue to eat). Ideally have several rats of equal starting weight (such as siblings of same sex that were born at same time) with slightly different amounts of the exact same food+drink, at least one with unlimited amounts of both in 'superabundance', and carefully record in amount what they each eat (or what food gets discarded). You could also record percentage time eating versus say sleeping or grooming. Stop the experiment for any rat that seems to be overeating dramatically (because we dont want any animals suffering), but i dont expect so.

Sorry, i disagree on the second,
It is family Philodromidae, something like Tibellus sp.

Dear Keith,

The insect you show is something now extinct, Palaeodictyoptera. So, either you somehow have a dutch time-machine, or what you saw is something different.

Here is the same as a drawing. I guess your image is a model of this.
http://bocekler.gezerilaclama.com/boceklerde-tur.html
ie Goldenbergia sp
http://zooexcurs.narod.ru/paleo/Goldenbergia_sp.htm

If you did see an insect but you are using an image from elsewhere (that you are not sure of), then please be clear to us - either so we know its not the same, but also to avoid copyright issues. 

For living insects that are similar, and could be yours, take a look at stoneflies, Plecoptera, ive seen some about 10cm, and with two long cerci as 'tail'.
ie http://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?search=Plecoptera

I'd suggest this shows you why scientists use 'scientific'/'latin' names as the lingua franca. ... so next time you are confused what species the people are refering to, ask them what the scientific name is... as each species has a unique name - as alistair so nicely explained!

I am pleased you say you just scoop up and take outside any such that you find, as i'd suggest no need to just kill such needlesly. Live and let live.

It sounds like you keep a very clean house, and after your discover have made an effort to check for sources of your intruder. Well, such happens, and provided there is no source of old infected food tucked at the back of a cupoard, the occasional visitor is to be expected. Your home/kitchen is not in isolation of the world, a few things form outside will find their way in occasionally, and its just a fact of life. Sometimes, new food from outside will have the odd hitchiker in, and dry dogfood especially, as could have been kept in conditions less than ideal. You may make the best effort to keep your home bug free, but the place you by drystuff like dogfood from may not be so careful.

Im sorry if you dont like this, but you seem to be doing the best you can to keep things clean and tidy, so the occasional visitor you see wont be able to start up home with you, especially if you evict any such you find.

Just one carpet/larder beetle does not make an infestation. :) hope you can relax.

Yes, indeed. I've seen them in central america, quite commonly.

like other true bugs, they have a piercing /sucking mouthpart = rostrum, and if they get that into you, i too have heard is very painful. (but they have no venom nor anything toxic, its just mechanical damage - though they can inject digestive saliva)

Anyway, its nothing to worry about, i suggest just leave be, cool find. Just dont get stabbed by its rostrum!

Hi, well, it would be great to have such stories, and im glad to hear you are trying to get some biological realism into the encounters.

I suggest look into Anomalocaridids too, but eurypterids are great too.

My impression of alot of modern arthropod predators and other extinct ones are alot are in favour of the 'snatch and test' approach, ie grab first, then sample and decide. The first response it to attack but with caution, hence using strong but long palps or the like to first hold the prey at a safe distance from the rest of the more delicate body. i'd suggest look into feeding of creatures such as Amblypygi =whip spiders. Then provided the prey can be restrained easy enough, then bring it closer to the chelicerae or whatever feeding structures. Good eyesight appears to have been critical for early evolutionary success, which would i suggest be mostly about detection of movement. Though early arthropods could also have had a strong advantage by colour vision too, so the colour of prey might be vital, and might be a big cue for predators of something being a good prey, or dangerous - colour for warning each other. alot of athropods indeed have soft parts, but would typically be enclosed by armoured region and protected/ gills are an obvious soft part that must be exposed, eyes also. Most noises underwater are difficult for us to detect, but i suggest look into the snapping of mantis shrimps for example of noise being used also for prey capture. Most arthropods are solitary, but social ones are not unusual, particularly common for aggregations in mating seasons.

e.g. Van Roy and Briggs 2011
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v4 … 09920.html

Exactly, this creature is probably one you want around if you want to keep your plants free of pests, just spraying to kill all insects isnt the answer - some insects like these are actually beneficial to control others you'd probably consider pests!

Hi,

Ok - im not great on ones like this, but they look to be Crustacea, not insects. Im thinking they are Amphipods or similar, so 'sandhoppers' is a useful name.

So, not Collembola which are quite close to insects (Collembola are hexapods, so 6 legs -same number with insects). These here have more than 6 legs. True fleas are a type of insect, so again would have 6 legs. These are not fleas.

These look to be 'sandhoppers' but also called 'sand fleas'. But, very very distant from true feas, which are insects, instead these are Crustacea.

Not the faintest clue why they are in your dog bowl! Maybe your dog has been carrying them as hitchikers, but they'd be totally harmless. If you live near the beach or regualrly take you dog for beach walks, it might be picking them up, then brought into the house, where the find the waterbowl.

Hi.

Just going back through some old posts. Sorry i didnt see this earlier.

It looks very much to be one in the family Lycosidae, and my first guess is something in the genus Hogna, such as Hogna carolinensis which get upto about 2.5cm body. They also dig burrows like tarantulas, often with a silk turret, which is thought to keep out scorpions primarily.

When you say 'looks like a tarantula', it leads me to note that these are very evolutionarily/historically distant from what most of us call tarantulas these days (family Theraphosidae) which have downward biting fangs. The one here (family Lycosidae) is actually part of another major group of spiders, mostly web-building ones, with inward biting fangs. But, that said, the 'original' tarantula, which that name comes from is actually named 'Lycosa tarantula' from italy (and around) is also actually one of the family Lycosidae ...like yours!

agreed, and more specifically, S = svedberg.. a unit for the sedimentation coeficient, ie time to sediment.. 17 svedberg., but yes, its a proxy for size/weight

Hi, i dont work on beetles, but have worked with people who do... hopefully however someone else here with more specific expertese will improve..

There are major differences between scarabs and leaf beetles, theyre quite far apart evolutionarily, separated a long time ago. For defining leaf beetles, i think it was the segments of the feet (tarsal formula) was important to condider, though im not sure what else. For scarabs from the little i know, antennae structure is normally useful to consider, and specifically--  this below is from a recent paper:

For reliable identification of a specimen as belonging to the Scarabaeoidea, the four imaginable synapomorphies are as follows: (i) antennae with lamellate club; (ii) pronotum and fore legs adapted to burrowing; (iii) reduced wing venation and intrinsic spring mechanism for folding of alae; and (iv) prosternal intercoxal process widened apically behind procoxae (Hansen, 1997; Krell, 2000; Lawrence & Britton, 1991)


Text From:

New fossil evidence of the early diversi?cation of scarabs: Alloioscarabaeus cheni (Coleoptera: Scarabaeoidea) from the Middle Jurassic of Inner Mongolia, China

Ming Bai , Dirk Ahrens , Xing-Ke Yang and Dong Ren
Insect Science (2011) 00, 1–13, DOI 10.1111/j.1744-7917.2011.01460.x3


Also look at

Forgie et al. 2004 Evolution of the Scarabaeini (Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae). Systematic entomology. 30:60-96

.

Not quite an answer, but hopefully a helpful lead..

I fear this sounds like a homework question, if its not, im sorry to not answer more completely!

The current scientific opinion on why arthropods are smaller than most vertebrates is to do with how their bodies transport gases (especially oxygen) to their body cells, and removes carbon dioxide.

Im not going to be more specific. Part of your question refers to modern arthropods. What about arthropods in the past? What does the fossil record suggest about sizes of some extinct arthropods? Was the earth's climate always the same as nowadays or different ? Lots to look into.

Hi.

Well, the answer wasnt obvious to me, so i did a little digging, and i failed to find any credible references that suggested it to be Keratin.

All credible sources indicate the important hardening component of squid beaks is indeed Chitin. Importantly, chitin is a polysaccharide, while keratin is a protein. These are radically different compounds. Part of the confusion might be that squid beaks seem to be composed both of chitin polysaccharides, plus some proteins, but these do not appear to share evolutionary history with vertebrate only keratin.

"Its main constituents are chitin fibers (15–20 wt.%) and histidine- and glycine-rich proteins (40–45%)." Miserez et al. 2007. Acta Biomaterialia 3(1):139-144
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/ar … 6106001231

Also see:
Messersmith, P.B. 2008. Multitasking in tissues and materials.
http://biomaterials.bme.northwestern.ed … M_2008.pdf

Which discusses this article..
Miserez et al. 2008. The transition from stiff to compliant materials in Squid beaks
Science 319 no. 5871 pp. 1816-1819

"The beak of the Humboldt squid Dosidicus gigas represents one of the hardest and stiffest wholly organic materials known. As it is deeply embedded within the soft buccal envelope, the manner in which impact forces are transmitted between beak and envelope is a matter of considerable scientific interest. Here, we show that the hydrated beak exhibits a large stiffness gradient, spanning two orders of magnitude from the tip to the base. This gradient is correlated with a chemical gradient involving mixtures of chitin, water, and His-rich proteins that contain 3,4-dihydroxyphenyl-L-alanine (dopa) and undergo extensive stabilization by histidyl-dopa cross-link formation. These findings may serve as a foundation for identifying design principles for attaching mechanically mismatched materials in engineering and biological applications."

Hi... Ok, 'no pressure then' -  thanks dave!

Yes, well - absolutely one of the orb-weavers, family Araneidae    

I expect it might be genus Araneus, but im sorry i cant be more specific. Firstly, all your pictures are all of its underside, so next time a picture from the top also would be useful. I know its sometimes difficult to take photographs from other angles. Sometimes though, identification by photgraph is still difficult, as colour markings of some species, particularly orb-weavers can be very variable. Yes, i expect it is an adult female too, and in the second and third photos has a nice meal wrapped up in a silk basket.

In ohio, there seems to be 14 species of orb-weavers in this group Araneus. Also as Dave rightly said sometimes the spider needs to be closely examined to work out what it is, often requiring a microscope and a dead specimen unfortunately.

If you are interested, there is actually a guide book on Ohio spiders, you might be able to loan it from a library. I dont know how technical it is though.
http://www.marion.ohio-state.edu/spiderweb/IOBYpage.htm
Bradley, R.A. 2004. In Ohio's Backyard: Spiders. Ohio Biological Survey, Columbus, OH. 

Also, Dr Richard Bradley (who's book it is), is at Ohio State University: has a webpage,  seems a little out of date, but worth a look, and maybe he might like to see other pictures you take of Ohio spiders !
http://www.marion.ohio-state.edu/spiderweb/mainpage.htm

Dear Matt, Excellent photo - lovely creature.

Dave, im rather shocked i think i can top your answer... its novel for me!

I recognised it as being a blister beetle (also called an oil beetle), of the family Meloidae - so its a beetle , and these also produce a nasty toxin called cantharidin.., and this one seems to be Megetra vittata, or extremely close species to it.

http://www.cirrusimage.com/beetles_blister_Megetra.htm

a good forum for US inverts with these is here:
http://bugguide.net/node/view/463711/bgimage 
and for Dave to see both sexes are swollen, but yes, particularly the females
http://bugguide.net/node/view/32872/bgimage

It could be a problem of trying to shoehorn diverse strategies into either k-or r-selection, and theres plenty of examples that dont fit either, or some traits seem k-selected others, more r-selected, organisms adapt to use whatever strategy works best at a given time in a given situation.

To me, the strategy of  'adenotrophic viviparous' Diptera like tsetse flies allows the adults to rapidly exploit food from whatever hosts is encountered, from multiple dispersal events (each adult female landing and quicky feeding herself and developing larvae), which is sounding awfully like an r-selected movement and feeding strategy. That differs radically from lice that tend to cling to the same host for long periods, or fleas which occasionally switch. 

Im not sure how selection may have led them to retain single larvae internally until just before pupation, yes very k-like, but shows the adult food source can sustain development, and that perhaps high population density is not supported (so if they had many offspring few would survive - so best invest more in fewer).

Finally, i'd add that internal symbionts like Wolbachia can have profound effects on the life and behaviour of their host insects .. perhaps these or other symbionts are
having a role in their life-strategies?

Its difficult to say, but yes, the families Gnaphosidae or
Clubionidae/Miturgidae spring to mind, and Drassodes is quite plausible.

however,
my money is instead on Scotophaeus blackwalli (also called Herpyllus
blackwalli), which can show a preference for being inside houses... and
sometimes called the 'house mouse spider'.

Nothing to be worried about, these naturally range across UK and wales

Hi,

Well first thing, im not an expert in identifications, but to me it looks most like a soldier beetle, either genus Cantharus sp or Rhagonycha sp.

There seems to be about 40 species in the UK (if thats where you are, i think you dont say your location). Anyway, all seem to be predatory, and i have often found some in the heads of flowers, i think eating insects attracted there).

 Anyway, if they are some sort of soldier beetle, then i dont know of any particular pest problems, and suspect they might actually be helpful controlling potential pest insects in your old home.

Thanks for taking a good picture, the link worked fine for me.

Hi,

It looks to be some sort of velvet ant (e.g family Mutillidae). Actually theyre quite closely related to regular wasps, even if they look like ants. (ants are close cousins though). They are harmless and often solitary. But, good to be careful as they do have a sting like other wasps. Generally they act as sort of parasites of other insects like communal wasps. They lay eggs in bee or wasps nest, and then the young feeds on those larvae. Actually rather than causing a problem for you, this creatue may have prevented you getting a huge and problematic wasp nest inside your plaster walls !

Hi Luke,,

Im wondering if it is a homework question, so next time you put a question it would be great for you to explain why you are asking, like did you see lots of types of beetles recently outside, or in a museum. That kind of thing.

Yes, well there are lots and lots of types of beetles. And there's still expected to be plenty more unknown especially in the tropical forests. So, first we have to talk about 'known' versus 'described'. Someone might go to a new place, like an unexplored mountain, and find some beetles. Then its a long process to work out if those new finds are already known, or if they are different from others and need a proper description published and a name given. Then they are officially known. So, when lots of scientists (here Coleoptera taxonomists) work on a group of organisms like beetles, lots get investigated, and lots get proper names, so many abecome scientifically known. As an example, there are possibly just as many types of mites as there are types of beetles, but there are fewer scientists working on them, and they are smaller and simpler creatures, so its difficult to work out how many types are found. Also difficult to work out if some need new names.

Anyway, there are lots and lots of beetles. Scientists have thought about unique features of beetles, and thought those might help species survive and diversify. The hardened upper wings (elytra) are a unique feature of most beeltes, an might mean that beetles can survive predators when other soft insects get eaten. So, beetles might survive in more areas. Related is that these wing cases and other thikened cuticle (body covering) can mean beetles are more resistant to water loss, so can survive in very dry regions like deserts, when other insects cant. Quite simply, more locations, more habitats -> more opportunities and more species can coexist. Also, different types of beetle eat pretty much everything, some eat fungus, some eat seeds, some eat leaves, moss, wood, other insects, snails, others eat poo, feathers, etc etc. Lots of opportunities, and lots of groups specialise on just one of these food types, while other species or lineages specialise on others. Lots of specialists means lots of species.

But, the big thing that helped beetle diversity is thought to be plant diversity. When flowering plants started to appear in the late dinosaur times, then beetles were already around. Some moved onto these new plants to eat leaves, others suck sp, others eat stems, others eat roots, others eat seeds. As the new types of plants appeared, some beeltes moved to those new plants. Co-speciation. There are thought to be lots of leaf eating moths for the same reason, many types only found on a single species of plant, so more plants, more beetles and moth. But for beetles, the seed eating made many more unique, many adapted to only one seed type which provided food, and provide shelter for developing eggs.

Then other things. One major group of beetle are called rove beetles, (Staphylinidae), have much shorter hardened forewings. They have the unusal and amazing ability to fold their huge hindwings under these tiny cases, i like to think like little jet-packs. These hidden wings mean they can burrow into soil, or leaf little and their bodies are very flexible. They can fit in tiny spaces to find hidden food or are nimble enough escape from predators. Their wings mean they can easily move to new areas in search of more food or mates.

Finally, another group of diverse beetles are tiger beetles. These have amazing vision, mainly to hunt food insects, but also likely to find mates. They also have bright colours and iridescent sheen, likey for display to potential mates. When for example females choose males based on colours or dislays, this can help new species form, when females in different areas have divergent preferences. Females in one area like green males for example, females in another area like blue males. Soon selection works so that two species form, one with nearly always green males and another with nearly always blue males. Such sexual selection is also useful to explain the diversity of stag beetles, where males with different shaped horns no longer compete, but thats getting too specific.!

Perhaps its just all about an Inordinate fondness of a higher power.
http://www.fond4beetles.com/introduction.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Inord … isplay.jpg

Hi Jay,

Huh, never heard that before, it does sound like one of those urban legends to me though already. I say that as the visual system of wasps is really poorly known, and scientists have only really known about the vision of closely related honeybees in about the last 15 years.

The reason i am going to doubt the reality of this, is that all insects including bees, wasps and ants, all see colours completely differently than we do. So, though we see the sky as blue, we humans see colour using a combination of three major receptors, called opsins, one optimised for red, another for green, and a third for blue. theres also a forth called rhodopsin, really which only works in dim light (ie when there is not enough light around for the others, and we cant see colour). What we see as blue in the sky, or in paint, is really more of our blue receptor responding to light bouncing of the paint (or bouncing off dust in the sky). The other opsin receptors in our eyes also respond to this light, but not so strongly, nor in such large proportions as the blue-optimised receptors do.

Now, insects like honeybees are known to have three receptors, other insects have more, some types have less. Honeybees have a receptor optimised for blue also, another for greenish light, but their third type is for UV light. That is light in part of the spectrum we cant see as none of our receptors is sensitive enough to it. And this receptor is the main reason i would suggest that insects see blue paint in a totally different way to the sky ... the sky has ultraviolet patterns in it caused by clouds, dust and magnetism, that will make sense to insects, some of which they use for navigation,e.g. lines in the sky that they may use to direct them which way is north. The paint should be one flat colour, which may or may not have any UV signals (depending on its components), but more importantly not necesarily interpreted by the insects as the same base color as they see the sky..

 Ok, sorry... not an easy answer. In short, insects see 'blue' in a totally different way than we humans do, so they probably wont be fooled so easily !!

.. it seems they stick the dead bodies of aphid victims to themselves also..

and sorry, an american stage of my education leads me to call larvae of all lacewings as antlions. (whether or not they make sandy pits for insects to fall into). Seems indeed that Euroleon nostras is the only UK species where the larvae do this...

anyway, we agree its a lacewing larvae!

Well, im glad to have debate.., hopefully Ajna see's that i was just trying to make things a little clearer, and show its important to consider lots of other arthropods, as she certainly knows.

Dave has surprised me slightly, and he has spent alot more time in muddy swamps looking at larval aquatic insects than me. Honestly i can admit i never saw a first stage dragonfly, but have seen lots of other first stage insects with definate 'nymphs' as the earliest hatching stage. As ajna rightly said, evolution can act on all life stages, reducing some, expanding others. I think my point still stands that there are plenty of other insect types that arose 'after' dragonflies (like aphids, mantids, crickets) have only nymphs and no sign of a maggot-like stage.., and 'holometabolan' insects arose much later and aquired a larval form, but then holometabolan insects might be more basal than is currently assumed.... ok, time to go, i must revise some of my data...

Hi,

Ok, well its going to be brief as i can only give a rough identification.

It looks very much like the larvae insect such as lacewings (order Neroptera), which are often called 'ant-lions'. Why?, the larvae often make pits in the ground where they wait at the bottom with huge-jaws open, until other insects like ants accidentally fall in, which they grab and eat. Its different you found it in the open, so im not sure if some species of ant-lions crawl in the open like this.

It appears to have bits of dirt and debris attached to its body, which i suspect helps give it camoflage/disguise its shape (which makes sense if it craws around actively hunting), so are not parts of the insect nor pests, but instead likely 'add on camoflage'. or even added protective armour.

If its not a larvae of a lacewing, then its a predatory beetle larvae, but i dont know any that look like that... anyone else??!!?

No sign of the mushroom pics.., perhaps not needed. :)

Thanks for a great photo, and for giving your location. Useful to us.

Well, im going to disagree...

Provided you are in europe, such as the UK, The second picture to me is a cockchafer beetle, like Melolontha melolontha, as to me it looks rather me beetle like. These often also have a spike on the end of the abdomen (its how females lay eggs).
The antennae would be the quickest way to tell, but i cant see them on your pics.

but... better to think its a Chafer-beetle than a cockroach no?

I expect it flew in, expecting the coke to be rather tasty, and then fell in.

Hi,

Well, sorry to report that its a genus of stick insects that im not too familiar with. I kept alot of others, but not those. Perhaps better if you direct your question specifically at a stick insect forum, or members of one of the organisations like the phasmid study group.

But, i expect the best route is experimentation yourself knowing they should take these foodplants. Try different varieties and 'species' if you can identify them. Often stick insects are not so particular, and will eat most members of a prefered plant genus, but it could be interesting to explore this and report your finding to those forums and societies. Avoid the youngest leaves that may have toxins, and try and make your results comparible across different days, eg standardize the amount of plan introduced, the size of leaves, the length of time the plant is left in with the insects. Then you can compare amount of leaf area eaten on different plant species, to see if they may prefer one type/species over another.

Well, in hope someone else here knows more about Asceles than me !
Best wishes
stuart

Hi,

Im sorry its difficult to say. A closer picture would help alot, though thankyou for putting the location where you found it, the location normally really helps.

From the way its sitting, i was thinking towards some sort of orb-weaver (Araneidae), but there are others that can look quite similar like fishing spiders (Pisuriidae) and 'running crab spiders' (Philodromidae, ie Thanatus sp), im possibly going to settle on the last possibility as my favourite, due to you saying it seemed to have a fiery personallity !!

Maybe a question for a website specifically aimed at identifying american 'bugs'
like http://bugguide.net or http://www.spideridentification.org/
At these sites you will find more specific experts... hope they can help !

Best wishes
stuart

Hi Pat,

As i understand it, there is still some weak form of recapitution during development, so the idea is not entirely dead, just in a much softer form than
the ideas of Haeckel, who i am led to believe wasnt entirely truthful about his data and observations in a few cases.

But, im not going to agree on this being useful to understand larval insects, as those with distinct larvae (in a group called Holometabola including beetles and flies) are a derived group, meaning they definately evolved from ancestors without distinct larval forms, the ancestors being insects similar to mayflies and dragonflies, which have juvenile nymphs, and also wingless insects like silverfish and firebrates, again with juvenile nymphs.

So i hope when you are talking about larvae, i think you mean the juvenile forms we can refer to as maggots (in some flies), or catepillars (butterflies, moths), and various other names like larvae (particularly for beetles). All these are holometabolan insects, which have a tripartite life with distict larvae-pupae-adult. There are a few exceptions, but thats it in the rough overview.   Now, its currently a bit debated which other group of insects is closest, either Paraneoptera (which includes things like aphids) or Polyneoptera (which includes things like earwigs and crickets), but it doesnt really matter. Point is these other groups of insects dont have larvae, their juvenile forms are much like the adults, just without wings, with undeveloped sexual organs, and a few other minor differences. In these other insects the juveniles are callled nymphs. Same with other definately more basal insects like dragonflies, damselflies and mayflies..as i mentioned above. etc etc.

Point is, that in all these other insects, which emerged as distinct forms earlier on in the evolution of the group, all had juveniles are more similar to the adult form, and consequently, we can be confident that the distinct larvae of holometabolan insects is derived, rather than possibly representative of the ancestral forms.

Well, if larval forms of holometabolan insects is indeed a greatly expanded developmental stage, which is indeed possible, then its an expanded stage of the very early development in their ancestors, while many later stages 'instars' that are seen in nymphs of other insects are lost. Thats a huge shift, and not totally unreasonable, but i dont think there is any real capacity for the larval stage to indicate anything like recaptulation of the ancestral forms.

Finally, a note to Ajna ... there are huge problems with relating aspects of velvet worms to the larval forms of insects. There are many other major branches of the arthropod tree between these lineages, ie chelicerates and myriapods. As you know, there is very strong evidence that 'Crustacea' are actually the sister-group to insects, so if we want to understand the early evolution of insects we should appeal to those closer relatives rather than more distant ones. Otherwise you have the danger of comming up with some absurd theory of genetic-exchange between velvet worms and insects as an 'astonishing and absurd claim', and getting ridiculed for a terrible paper in PNAS..... :)

Hi,

Sorry, im not the most clued up on UK moths, and there are plenty of very similar looking species. Best i can do is redirect you to the valuable web-link below, while perhaps we wait for someone else to help out.

http://ukmoths.org.uk/thumbnail.php

This is a great resource of picutes on UK moths. I was thinking it might be in the family Tortricidae, anyway, take a look, and see if you think anything fits well.

perhaps one of these..
http://ukmoths.org.uk/thumbnail.php?mod … ortricinae

Best of luck, i also suggest that if you are interested in identifying other insects, you get a copy of the book by Michael Chinery, the collins field guide to british insects, its a great resource.

Best wishes
stuart

Hi Alex.

Yes Jessica is right, its often low humidity that causes problems. Best you can do when they have a problem moult is to wet the old skin in the places you want to try and remove, wait a couple of minutes for the dry skin to soften, and then remove what you can. They should shed the entire skin in a single time though, not as small pieces. They should split down the central line and pull themselves completely out the old skin in a single time. It sounds like either it is not moulting completely or something has gone badly wrong. Im not hopeful, sorry to you, but im not sure you can do anything much to help. But, yes, try spraying with water to increase humidity.

Hi Denise,



Well without a photo i can only make an educated guess, but theres an obvious candidate.



I suggest the culprit is vlikely to be a mullein caterpillar (Shargacucullia verbasci), that turns into a brownish moth, though one

that looks a little unusual, and the larvae definately eat verbascum.



Is really great you give such a good identification of the host plant, that really helps, even without any photograph of the actual insect!

Heres a good overview of it.

http://www.lepiforum.de/cgi-bin/lepiwik … a_Verbasci



Hope that looks like it to you, the markings seem to be variable on catepillars, so maybe the orange/black spot markings arn't exactly the same.



To me they're quite pretty even as adults, though brown moths...

Best Wishes

stuart

Hi again Mike, Thanks David.

Well, im not going to rule out a UK intorduction of a US-Native, but i strongly suspect it is infact a UK/European relative of the american dog-bane beetle (C. auratus), for example the european species Chrysolina herbacea looks superficially very similar to C. auratus (to me at least), and is native to the UK, often found on water mint, but also thyme, and sometimes on stinging nettles. I know theyre in Birmingham and the southern UK, but dont know how much further north they range. You havent been making water-mint pesto have you?

There maybe other species of leaf-beetle in the UK that look similar, but i would also would need to consult a specialist on british beetles!!

Heres a link to British C.herbacea for you to talk a look at, but thats what i think you found, rather than a US introduction. Hope that helps ! Thanks for clarifying with further details in your reply.

http://www.bioimages.org.uk/html/t158136.htm

Hahaha, well - sorry i didnt get to this sooner !

Does this mean you are in the US, if so could it have just come in with some cut-flowers, or other things from the garden? Its the right time of year for adults to be around now, so it sounds like an accidental introduction.

But, you still have me thrown with the 'ladybird' usage, making me think you are in the Uk. If so, we have native species (ie those from the UK) that do look superficially very similar to the dogbane -beetles..

If you are in the Uk, its worth considering if its a rainbow leaf beetle, Chrysolina cerealis... as those are extremely rare!

Best wishes
stuart

Hi Mike,

Ok, well its going to be impossible without a photograph and without knowing your location, though i expect you might be in the UK or USA.... and as you said ladybird rather than 'ladybug' im going to guess you are in the UK !!

Well, the first thing that sprang to mind would be a leaf beetle, in the family Chrysomelidae, but that narrows it down to about 35.000 species ! But, many of these are irridecent. The other obvious candiate to me are Chafers of the subfamilies Melonlonthinae or Cetoniidae (they are in the scarab family). Other possible families are jewel beetles, Buprestidae (but these are normally elongate, and just sit on trees, etc) or tiger beetles, Cicindelidae, but i would have likely run fast.. maybe ground beetles, Carabidae.

Well, if we stick to leaf beetles, maybe look up the 'mint-leaf beetles' (Chrysolina menthastri) which should be around as adults now, or 'rosmary leaf beetles (Chrysolina americana). For Chafers, the UK has the irridecent noble chafer (Gnorimus nobilis) or rose chafer (Cetonia aurata).

hopefully one of these is your find, or helps you work it out.
best wishes

Hi Jan,

Thats a very nice picture, and its a jumping spider of the family Salticidae. Im going to even suggest it is a species called Salticus scenicus otherwise known as a 'zebra jumping-spider'. Those are found both in Europe (like the UK) and North America. It would have helped alot to put the location where you found it in your original post, but from this photo im pretty confident thats what it is.

These are smart little things. They often look at the camera as people try and photograph them, as they have really great vision. You found they jump well also...!

Thanks for the nice pic !

Hi,

Well yes, it also sounds to me like it is damanged, from a fall, cut or another insect biting it. Especially if the back legs are not moving. I have not heard of any diseases like this, but isolating this one is very good advice. Sometimes with injuries creatures like stick insects can fix the wound during a moult, sometimes not, so moulting time will likely either cure or not.

:) Hope things improve.
s

Hola Jose,

Well those are some excellent photos, so thankyou for linking these here. Well, to me this is a strange type of marine invertebrate commonly called a 'sea mouse'. And yes, the other guy is very wrong by thinking they are something like insects or other arthropods. I cant say if yours was the same or not though, sorry.

Actually, the ones in the fotos are marine segmented worms (annelids), perhaps the genus Aphrodita, or close to those. Perhaps look up the term 'polychaetes' to describe the broad group of worms they belong to, but these relatively close to earthworms (just those are 'oligochaete annelids'). Most other marine polychaete worms do look a lot more worm like, ie long/thin, segmented, often with spines or bristles (=chaete,chaeta, given as part of the names above).


Some examples of the genus Aphrodita are the species
Aphrodita aculeata from the atlantic, and Aphrodita marombis from
austrailia, etc. So, im not sure what species you would have around
argentina, but i suspect something close to these other ones.

And just to clear up, on the link webpage you showed, it is suggested to be a 'cienpiés', which i translate as centipede/millipede. They are arthropods like insects, but not the same as in a seperate class called Myriapoda. But, this creature in the photos is definately not a centipede, and not an insect, infact as i said, is a much more distant cousin, a polychaete worm called a 'sea-mouse'.


Excellent find !!, Yes, very weird.

Well, sorry cant answer, but i can narrow it down to [most probably] a hemipteran bug of the family Reduviidae, called something like an assasin bug, or kissing bug.

But what this one is, i cant say. Problem is there is about 7000 species described so far, with a worldwide distribution..., so you better keep your eyes open for them wherever you travel !

And yes, good to be aware of problematic ones called Triatoma or Rhodnius in particular, as they transmit a simple single-celled parasite that causes a tropical disease called Chagas disease.

Hi mandie,

Are you sure its not actually a flea you are looking at? Im finding it difficult to imagine what it might be, but thankyou for trying to describe it as much as possible. Im not sure why you say "the accompanying tick" as these are completely different things, and your cat having fleas should have nothing to do with if it has ticks or not.

The jumping does suggest a flea, as few insects do this. But maybe lookup thrips and booklice too, as common small bugs that can be around the house. Definately take a look at booklice though.

Hi Sam,

Thats a great question, and something that is a huge 'work in progress'. What i can say is that now there are around 925,000 described species of insects. (this number is from an expert reference book from 2005 called 'evolution of insects'). So, given this number against other quoted figures like 248,000 true plants, 69,000 fungi, then numbers for many other types of living things are added on, then the insects make up a staggerng 58% of described living things.

Now, lets throw a little more reality into that. So we have close to 1 million described types of insects. Does that tell us how many are really are? Well no, its a 'work in progress', new species are still being found and described all the time, and for insects mostly in the tropical forests. There are differing opinons how many insect species there really are in total (and some are going extinct before we know about them!), but somwhere between 2.5 and 10 million species seems probable, perhaps 5 mllion species of insect alone is a good estimate.

Then, we have to think of other groups, things like spiders are really diverse, and so are mites. There are currently around 123,000 species of 'other arthropods', ie creatures with hard exoskeletons like insects, but not insects. Theyre arachnids, myriapods and crustaceans. There are plenty of these undescribed also, especially the number of mites is likely to increase dramatically in future.

Well, point is, we have numbers of creatures known now, but with groups like insects and mites, scientists think the numbers will greatly increase. With other types of animals like those with backbones (including us humans together in a group called vertebrates), the numbers of these backboned species will not go up much more. Probably a few more fish, maybe few hundred, some more reptiles, but the total number of bird and mammal species are pretty well fully known and only rarely will new species be discovered.

Then also, think about making comparisions of numbers of insects only against other complex multicellular animals, as a huge abndance of undescribed life is actually unicellular, single celled microscopic creatures. But, few are described and compared in the numbers given above. These include things like bacteria. We know very little about most of those few 'species' we know, and there is very likely vast numbers of 'species' that we have not yet encountered.

So, if the total number of insect species are only compared against the number of other complex multicellular animals, then insects probably make up somewhere like 70% of all living species..., but its 58% as above..

Hi there Chris.

It sounds worryingly like a homework question, but im going to give you some pointers.

Firstly, i didnt know about that particular type, but its the austrailian one right? If so, its technically called Psaltoda plaga. Im guessing the 'plaga' part was given to the species as you sometimes find them in huge numbers, ie like a plague of them around. I could be wrong on that.

Now, it seems that particular species typically have a 7 year cycle, so expect huge numbers every 7 years. As you know, the vast majority of that time is spent underground, but the juvenile cicada will go through several molt stages (called instars) before emerging to climb the tree, and molt again. The shell you refer to is the outer 'skin' of the younger stage. Im just saying that it does this kind of skin change several times underground while growing.

What i would suggest is the 7 year cycle is an average, so yes, if there is a big population one year, then many will survive and breed. 7 years later, the direct offspring of those prolific breeders come out in huge numbers again. But, some might come out before, some after, its not so rigidly fixed. Also, there should be regional variation, so a prolific year in your region might be a year of low numbers in another region nearby. So, as i see it, you should expect prolific numbers every 7years, but if its a particularly tough year 7, or tough in the years before, then there might be a delay/slower develoment in many of the juveniles, so that there deelopment gets delayed. But it seem with me that the 7 year cycle of large numbers is the standard for this species.

Hi,

Giving specific examples for evolutionary change is difficult if we restrict ourselves to the current media type use of global warming.. ie over the past 15 yrs or so... as evolutionary change in response to environmental pressures in species generally takes time to accumulate, influence large numbers (a large proportion of the population), ie it can take alot of change to have an observable effect we can record. Generally on a short term scale, species adapt by being able to spread to new areas, maybe exploit new food sources, and being able to live for longer in those new areas. Hopefully someone else can give you the direct examples, but maybe best you find the best ones for your own needs i'm afraid.

But... this might be a shock to some, but global warming isnt a new thing. For example in northern Europe we have been experiencing warming since the last glacial maxima, about 10,000 years ago. (IE since the last ice age). I would look towards evidence for adaption of species since that time, during this much longer period of warming. And yes, there are many many cases..., alot or more temperate loving species were pushed to regions in southern Europe around the mediterranean, in so called glacial refugia. There are plenty of cases where previous species appear to have been pushed into several separate refugia, then those populations accumulated differences. Once the warmer and milder conditions came back, those populations expanded, but in some cases they were now sufficiently different that they could not or would not interbreed, and now separate species. In other cases, the separate populations rejoined and a single widespread species returned.

The point is, environmental change on both a local and global scale is a natural phenomena that has always influenced life. So far, some of that life has overcome and adapted..., if not all. That's the struggle for life, its a tough world for creatures, but it always has been !

Hi Joe,

Its a little difficult to answer as I'm not sure there is a specific answer possible. As i see, it is rare for spiders to get caught in the webs of others. For example, many webs are setup to catch flying insects which get mixed up in the strands as they struggle. As spiders dont fly, there is little chance for them to get stuck in the middle of another setup web. 

So, indeed we have to think about wandering spiders, and tangling in other new and old cobwebs lying around. So, the legs of most spiders have hairs that prevent direct contact of the exoskeleton with webs, and i suggest that most don't get caught in webs of others. But, it can and does happen, and if there is another hungary occupant, then that's lunch sorted. Sometimes i see wandering spiders with bits of web stuck to a leg or two, that means it escaped, but there is still some of the web strands attached to it, onto which it mistakenly got trapped into. But not trapped enough..

Most cobweb makig spiders are either very cryptic (ie like well camoflaged) or vary wary. Many are nocturnal hunters, only coming out of hiding places at night, so you might have little chance to see them, even if there. Also, it is common for adult male spiders to wander away from webs/home territories when they mature to adulthood, as they go in search of females. These leave old webs behind to become cobwebs.

I think many wandering spiders are able to avoid being ensnared in webs of others. In general local spiders put special signalling molecules onto the web strands to provide sensory marker to others. For example, male spiders might be able to detect if there is an interesting female spider of the same species in a web it comes across, just by touching the web strands, and picking up the chemical signals there.

Hope that helps. There are indeed many spiders that hunt other spiders, and some of these have to deal with extracting the target spider from its web. There is a great and very smart type of jumping spider called Portia that actively hunts several other types of spiders. To be described as a cannibal it has to eat its own species, which in general is rare, but spider predators on others spiders is rather more common. Its a tough enough world for most spiders..., without some humans trying to get rid of them too!

Ha! Great question.

You know, i'm not sure scientists have looked into this in enough depth. You know, cows and the like are blamed for contributing to global warming in such a way, but not the insects/spiders.

Sadly, I would really suggest they dont though. Insects exchange gas through tubes called trachae, and openings along the body sides called spiracles. I would think that problem body gasses can pass out the spiracles, not the terminal mouth or 'backside'. So,... how about we investigate if insects instead 'fart' out the sides of their abdomen through those spiracles..? It depends if you need the term 'fart' to be a specific byproduct of the digestive system, or if it can come from other body processes... im not sure the term is so clearly defined yet..

Opps.. spiders. They have 'book lungs', small thin plates in an internal cavity that the air can get to. Now... their central gut that must produce too much gas occasionally. But, i really dont know, and i promise i have looked at some pretty big spiders and never heard anything that could be described like this...... Not much help here!

(posted in Mammals)

Dont you have something better to do with your time Dr Hone ?

But, i will pass this info onto my cat loving sister, or maybe better test this idea on her beloved cats next time i visit there, but of course i wont tell her thats why the cats are going crazy... excellent!

I think some addional scientific experimentation is needed here, lets call it independant verification!

wow.. thats a challenging one. I like it though. Im not sure of the details, so i hope someone else will chip in an addition.

Basically, it is important to first think about the pupa, not the adult. Some insects like ladybirds have an indirect development, where they have a larva that is very different from an adult. The ladybirds are a type of beetle. These generally have 'worm-like' larvae, ie something like catepillars, just uglier. Other insects have much more similar 'juveniles', things like grasshoppers, cockroaches, mantids etc.

Well, back to ladybirds, they have a pupal stage, like other beetles (ie as the crysalis is for butterflies and moths). Generally with beetle pupae, you can see the shape of parts that look a bit like the adult structures, this includes 'buds' as parts of the body that become wings. When the pupae is ready to become adult, it moults and pushes itself out the old 'skin'. These wing buds are then inflated by pushing body fluid (like blood) through wing veins, inflating them to extend. In beetles the inflated forwings harden and often darken, to become wingcases. (called elytra). In other insects the forweings remain clear and are used for flight. Wngcases are to protect another set of hindwings.

But the spots... well, thats really difficult to explain!.  In the pupae, some sort of dark pigment (might be something like melanin) is acculated in certain parts of the wing bud. when the forewing is inflated (pumped up), the dark area is spread across a wider area as cells containing the pigmant move apart. The pigment doesnt spread, just the darkened cells are moved apart. Then these forweings harden to make protective cases.

Hmmm, well. If my answer is too confusing, i suggest you change question slightly to look up more about eyespots in butterflies, which can provide waning to predators. The process is going to be rather similar. There has been a good amount of study to how butterfly eyespots develop, so i hope someone explains that better than i can !!

Best wishes
stuart

Hmmm..

Rather difficult to answer, but you have my total respect that you considered he/she was probably rather nervous at 60 mph, and both probably felt better to get off the freeway !!

Well, practically, spiders often use a combination of claws, close contact with special hairs, and both combined with silk to hang on. What you should consider is that even though the windscreen looks flat and smooth to you, at the microscale of the spider, there is all manner of bumps, chips and ridges to grip onto.

Often the claws alone do a fine enough job for grip, but then there are hairs with claw like structures, or hairs with such smooth surfaces they can bind super-close to the surface and make a special adhesive contact which works just fine. Commonly spiders will also often bind microscopic silk onto the surface, then grip onto the silk rather than the surface itself.  Basically, it was clinging on by multiple methods, so in this specific case was probably doing everything it could to cling on...!!

Or, maybe it was actually a super-spider ?
Anyway.. well done you for being so considerate to the little dude!
s

Hi Max,

Im going to hazard a guess that what you might be looking at are actually insects called silverfish (or an outside guess others called firebrats). These are primative wingless insects with elongated bodies, and silverfish are famed for prefering to live in warm damp bathrooms. Theyre about 1cm.

If these, then i suggest they are harmless, unless they get to huge levels. Really, they are just eating rotting material and other debris, so actually helping clean up. The go for fungus too. Personally, i have never worried to see them, as i say they are just helping clear up. If they get into a kitchen, thats when they can be a problem, eating starchy foods, but few people have warm damp kitchens...

Anyway, if theyre these things, i do not consider them a pest when its just a few around, but you can get supplies to control them... though to me its good to conserve biodivesity wherever possible!

Ok, so im going to ask a question rather than answer one...any problem with that?

Im going to be looking for Atypus spiders across the southern UK, but they are difficult to track down as they are highly elusive. I know about the info/resources with the Bristish Arachnological Society. Theyre also called purse-web spiders, and really quite unique in northern europe. As theyre protected in the UK, it seems various nature conservancy bods often know what these are... so really a question to the UK nature lovers, who knows about specific sites i can find these at, or anyone want to help direct me to those who know ?