Backyard Biocontrol

I’ve been noticing that one of the plants in my backyard here in Orlando is getting totally mauled by insects. I didn’t know what this vine with heart-shaped leaves was, but I thought it looked like a wild yam species. The level of herbivory damage is often intense. Then Isa Betancourt (@isabetabug) on her bug-themed […]

Nature At Your Door

Shamrock and I are staying at some friends’ house in Orlando and this evening I saw Shamrock swatting at a long-winged insect fluttering outside the glass door. It erratically drifted up and down the glass attempting the reach the light inside and Shamrock tracked every move. Every now and then Shamrock shot a paw or two onto the […]

Iceland

Here are all my favorite photos and videos from my recent trip to Iceland along with some ominous music I made: FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Close Encounters with Toxic Grasshoppers

Eastern lubber grasshoppers (Romalea microptera) are ridiculously photogenic. A combination of huge size, bright colors, and calm behavior makes them easy to find and photograph. The common name lubber comes from the old English word “lobre” meaning lazy or clumsy. If you guessed, based on behavior and coloration, that these are poisonous animals, you are correct. They accumulate toxic chemicals from the […]

Sumac Gall Aphids – Master Tricksters

I was walking around in a cemetery with a friend who spotted these strange balls on staghorn sumac leaves: I figured they were a galls, which are swellings in plants caused by parasitic fungi, bacteria, nematodes, or in most cases, insects and mites. It’s always fun to crack open galls to find out what is living […]

Colorful Symbioses

Lichen are a classic example of symbiosis. A fungus teams up with an algae or a cyanobacteria, the fungus use their digestive powers to extract nutrients from just about anything while also creating a nice home for the algae or cyanobacteria to turn sunlight into energy. They give and take, and together they can thrive in places where […]

Phenomenal Fen

Recently Chad Zirbel posted a photo of a stunning orange lily that I just had to see for myself. He directed me to a nearby high-quality prairie fen. This habitat is flooded with calcium-rich groundwater which selects for a unique community of plants, many of which are adapted to this specific habitat. The spongy peat and dense communities of […]

Marvelous Milkweed Herbivores

All plants are involved in an evolutionary battle with herbivores, where plants evolve various traits that deter herbivores and then herbivores evolve the ability to eat them again. This evolutionary struggle has raged on for over 400 millions years, contributing to the massive diversification of both plants and the wide range of herbivores that eat […]

Three Jumping Spider Shots

Here are three looks at a stunning jumping spider I found on a tall reed near the Savannah River in South Carolina. First with a white background showing the huge fuzzy forelegs and red-spotted abdomen, then a close-up portrait with the metallic green chelicerae, then a wide angle macro shot with a horse pasture, trees, […]

Shield Bug Babies!

I found some insect eggs on a basswood (Tilia sp.) tree. I brought them home and when they hatched I learned they were shield bugs (Pentatomoidea). The photos below span over 3 days. FacebookTwitterGoogle+