Showing posts from December, 2011

Science Video Friday - Glowworms

In lieu of a full blog post, it's time for another Science Video Friday! This week's video is a spectacular 10 minute documentary on Britain's glowworms, from Christopher Gent. Enjoy!

Science Video Friday - Large Longhorns

I just received my copy of Field Guide to Northeastern Longhorned Beetles (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) by Douglas Yanega today and it is beautiful. It has a classy cover and is filled with useful pictures and identifying information about longhorned beetles. I've already used it to identify a few of the beetles I found this summer, which led me on some Youtube searches.

For as neat as our longhorned beetles are in Ohio, this one from Japan is pretty wicked...

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to find a reason to fly to Japan for some beetle research.

This Isn't Your Father's Daddy Longlegs

While on a night hike looking for fluorescent millipedes and whatever else I could find a few months ago (September 16th), I came across a most interesting arachnid. Now, it's important to note that Arachnids aren't just spiders: Arachnida is a large class that includes other organisms like scorpions, ticks, mites, solifugids, and harvestmen (or daddy longlegs, if you prefer). It's the harvestmen (Order Opiliones) that are most important to this post, and while the popular perception of harvestmen is a small-bodied organism with long, thread-like legs, this is not always the case.

There's a surprising amount of diversity in the harvestmen: it includes 6,411 described species (estimates of over 10,000 total species have been put forward!) and 45 families. After spiders and mites, it's the third largest order of Arachnids.

Which brings us to the specimen found on that cool September night:

Not exactly what you were expecting, eh?
This is probably the largest harvestmen …

A Charismatic.......and Sometimes Drunk Weevil

Usually when I find weevils (Coleoptera: Curculionoidea), they're tiny, relatively bland, or....."otherwise occupied."

Tulip Tree Weevils (Odontopus calceatus), otherwise occupied.
While researching assassin bugs this summer at the Barbara A. Beiser Field Station, however, I came across a much more charismatic weevil, the oak timberworm (Arrhenodes minutus).

Not quite on an oak, this guy was picked up during sweep netting.
If you compare the oak timberworm with the tulip tree weevils in the previous picture, you'll probably notice quite a difference in size and body shape. The oak timberworm doesn't have elbowed antennae, either. So what gives?
The oak timberworm is a species of primitive weevil (Subfamily Brentinae), which look very different from other weevils. They're characterized by their straight snouts (their family is the straight-snouted weevils, Brentidae, after all), antennae that aren't elbowed, and the tendency of their body shape to usually be fl…