Featured Guest Photo – Dromica kolbei

Dromica kolbei? - Kruger National Park, South Africa. Copyright © Joe Warfel 2011.

Shortly after I returned from Brazil, this stunning photo was sent to me by Joe Warfel, who himself had just returned from a trip to South Africa.  Joe had seen the beetle at Punda Maria camp in the northern part of Kruger National Park, had deduced that it represented a species in the genus Dromica, and included the following notes about its behavior:

It did not fly, only ran, ran, ran, ran…. you get the picture.  But stopped briefly now and then to deposit eggs in the  soil.  My best guess from my limited tiger beetle references is Dromica sp.  Any help for identification you may give would be appreciated.

Although I have not collected this genus myself, I recognized it instantly as a member of such based on specimens and images I have seen.  Carabidae of the World contains fine images of a number of species in this genus, of which Dromica kolbei (W. Horn, 1897) seems to be a pretty good match.  However, more than 170 species are currently included in the genus, and while a modern revision is in progress (Schüle and Werner 2001; Schüle 2004, 2007), the bulk of the genus still remains to be treated.  As a result, this really should be considered as just a provisional ID.

Dromica is a strictly sub-Saharan African genus of tiger beetles whose included species are denizens of dry lands – savannahs, grasslands, open woodlands, and semideserts, and are generally absent in the moister, more heavily forested areas of western Africa.  Like a number of other tiger beetle genera, they have given up the power of flight to capitalize on their fast running capabilities.  This flightlessness and the strict association of adults with often short rainy seasons has led to both spatial and temporal isolation of numerous, localized populations of restricted geographical range.  This has no doubt contributed to the diversification of the genus across the mosaic of suitable habitats covering central, eastern, and southern Africa.  Schüle and Werner (2001) suggest that a good number of new species may still await discovery in the more remote or yet inaccessible areas of the countries of occurrence.  I had hoped to encounter these beetles (and also Manticora, or the giant African tiger beetles) during my visit to South Africa in 1999, but luck was not with me in this regard (although I did collect several fine specimens of the handsome Ophryodera rufomarginata (Boheman) and also a few species in the genera Cicindina and Lophyra).

My sincere thanks to Joe Warfel for allowing me to post his excellent photograph.  I featured photographs by Joe in an earlier post (A Tiger Beetle Aggregation), and his other photos can be seen at EighthEyePhotography (you must see this striking harvestman from Trinidad!).


Schüle, P. 2004. Revision of the genus Dromica. Part II.  The “elegantula-group” (Coleoptera: Cicindelidae). Folia Heyrovskana 12(1):1–60.

Schüle, P. 2007. Revision of the genus Dromica. Part IV.  Species closely related to Dromica albivittis (Coleoptera: Cicindelidae). African Invertebrates 48(2):233–244.

Schüle, P. and K. Werner. 2001. Revision of the genus Dromica Dejean, 1826. Part I: the stutzeri-group (Coleoptera: Cicindelidae). Entomologia Africana 6(2):21–45.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2011 (text)

An Inordinate Fondness #9

Welcome to An Inordinate Fondness, the monthly blog carnival devoted to beetles.  I started this carnival nine months ago, hosting the inaugural issue at the home site before sending it out into the big, wide world.  Seven very capable bloggers have hosted it since, each giving it their own special flavor.  This month, AIF makes its first appearance here at BitB, and even though we have begun to enter the colder months of the year here in North America, blog posts about beetles continue unabated.  Featured here are 14 coleocentric posts that have appeared within the past month – I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did.



Ever heard of the life/lunch dichotomy?  Greg Laden discusses it in his post Strange insect encounter: Carrion Beetle with Mites at Greg Laden’s Blog.  You might think this heavy load of tiny mites would be a big problem for the carrion beetle that they cover, but in reality the beetle’s life depends upon them.  Read Greg’s post to find out why.

Amber Coakley at Birder’s Lounge presents some great photographs of the white-cloaked tiger beetle (Cicindela togata) in Tiger Beetle at Oklahoma’s Salt Plains NWR.  These are not just any tiger beetle, but among the most halophilic (salt-tolerant) of species in North America.  Read her post, view the desolation, and marvel that these beetles find a way to make a living in the vast salt plains.


No North American beetle collector can call themselves such until they’ve seen Arizona’s stunningly-colored Chrysina scarabs in the wild.  Art Evans at What’s Bugging You? reminisces on his first experience with these beetles while providing a marvelous summary of the different species in REFLECTIONS ON ARIZONA’S JEWEL SCARABS-Part 1.  Once again, the siren call of Arizona beckons me.

Other Arizona beetles are famous not only for their exquisite colors, but also the radical change they undergo after the beetle reaches adulthood.  Find out how this happens in Color-changing Leaf Beetles, by Margarethe Brummermann at Arizona: Beetles Bugs Birds and more.


No, that is not an ant, but a beetle – a tiger beetle to be exact.  Troy Bartlett at Nature Closeups found these beetles in Brazil and discusses how they not only look like ants, but move and behave like them as well in Caraça Tiger Beetles.  Oh, how I would dearly love to see some of these tiger beetles for myself!

Closer to home, Shelly Cox at MObugs presents a timely post on the locust borer, Megacyllene robiniae in Locust Borer.  One of a small number of longhorned beetle species that mimic wasps, Shelly gives a complete summary of the life history and habits of this fall-active species.

Mimicry, of course, is not always of the Batesian type where the mimic is harmless – Mullerian mimics are themselves distasteful to predators but share similar warning coloration and patterns to reinforce that fact to any would-be predators.  In Insect of the week – number 39 at NC State Insect Museum, the net-winged beetle Dictyoptera aurora is featured as an example of such.  Find out its taxonomic history, natural history, habitat, distribution, and the diagnostic characters needed to distinguish this species from other net-winged beetles.


Flower chafers of the scarab genus Euphoria are among the most colorful species in the family, and Arizona has more than its share of them as Margarethe Brummermann shows in The Euphoria species of Arizona, USA at Arizona: Beetles Bugs Birds and more.  I thought I had done a pretty good job of finding these beetles during past visits to Arizona, so you can imagine my surprise when I learned that there are ten species there (I have only encountered four).  Margarethe’s post has plenty of info to help me find those I still lack.

When it comes down to it, collecting trips are the heart of this pursuit we call coleopterology.  Estan Cabigas at Salagubang recounts a recent trip in A short collecting trip at Epol, Davao City.  He notes that while new species in groups of interest are not always expected, camaraderie in the field with like-minded people can more than make up for that.  Read the post to learn about what he found.


Honey bees have had more than their share of problems lately, with Colony Collapse Disorder adding to the multitude of other pests and pathogens these industrious little hymenopterans must deal with.  In Answer to the Monday Night Mystery: Small Hive Beetle (Aethina tumida), Alex Wild at Myrmecos shows some spectacular photographs of one of these other pests, with an appearance far more pleasing than the result of their infestations in honey bee hives.

The white-fringed weevil, Naupactus leucoloma, is not quite as serious a pest as the small hive beetle, and Dave Ingram recounts his encounter with this beetle feeding Amongst the Lily Seeds at Dave Ingram’s Natural History Blog.  Originally from South America but introduced worldwide, this beetle has made meal of many a plant species.


In his post Micromalthus debilis, Heath Blackmon at Coleopterists Corner discusses a beetle with one of the oddest reproductive strategies and unusual genetic systems within the order Coleoptera.  A flowchart is actually required to understand the many different developmental pathways and larval phenotypes that are encountered in this species.  If you’re not yet familiar with paedogenesis or thelytokous, arrhenotokous, and amphiterotokous parthenogenesis, then this is the post for you!


Few other insects besides beetles have been used so widely as inspiration for and objects of art.  In Reflections on Beetle Art, Jonathan Neal at Living With Insects Blog discusses this and other cultural uses of beetles, including the dazzling artwork of Christopher Marley that was featured recently on a popular Sunday TV magazine.

Mike Bok’s AIF #8 last month at Arthopoda featured clever versions of classic Beatles (the music group) images with real beetles (the insects).  While his artwork was original, the connection between the two has obviously been made by others (including Amber with AIF #2).  Ever the good sport, Mike features yet another Abbey Road album cover in Further unintentional unoriginality.

This month’s contributors:

The November issue of AIF will be hosted by University of Texas graduate student Heath Blackmon at Coleopterists Corner (could there be a more appropriate carnival for Heath’s first hosting gig?).  Submit your submission using this handy submission form by November 15, and look for the issue to appear a few days later.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

An Inordinate Fondness #8 – Meet the Beetles

An Inordinate Fondness #8 is now up at Arthropoda, and I must say it is one of the most impressive issues to date. Mike Bok has given us yet another delightful version drawing on the obvious parallels between the “beetles” (taxon) and the “Beatles” (musical group). This has been done before, but whereas Amber made delightful soundtracks for each submission in AIF #2, Mike has come up with some of the most impressively amusing “Beetle” album covers one can imagine. “Abbey Road” (above) may be my favorite, but “The (Tiger) Beatles” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band ” also must be seen to be believed.

Oh, and by the way, the issue contains links and introductions to a full plate of 20 coleopterous compositions to satisfy your cravings for all things elytral – including five contributions just on tiger beetles alone (hmm, now how did that happen?). Please visit, read, click, and comment – it’s one of the best issues ever.

The problem with an issue this good is that it makes for a hard act to follow, and the October edition of AIF still needs a host.  Hosting is fun and easy, and you’ll get plenty of help if you need it.  Please visit the AIF website if you’re interested in hosting an upcoming issue (your choice of months).  If you can’t commit to hosting but would still like to contribute, use this handy automatic submission form, or contact me directly.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

June beetles, moths, and herps

New issues of my three favorite carnivals have been issued in the past day or two. See what’s been going on in the blog world of beetles, moths, and herps during the past month.

Seabrooke Leckie has just posted An Inordinate Fondness #5 at the Marvelous in Nature. I was delighted when Seabrooke offered to host this issue – an experienced nature blog carnival host, her standing as a member of the Nature Blog Network team and author of one of its most popular blogs promised to bring an air of credibility to this newest of nature blog carnivals.  With the creative flair that we’ve come to expect from her, Seabrooke shares with us ten different species in eight different families and presenting a multitude of shapes and colors – from iridescent green tamarisk weevils and false blister beetles, to black and red milkweed leaf beetles and ladybird beetles, to strikingly patterned longhorned beetles, to brown yet anything but boring rain beetles (and once you’ve seen what’s out there, learn about everything you need to go out and collect them).

Chris Grinter at The Skeptical Moth joins the blog carnival host ranks with The Moth and Me #12.  Chris is an entomologist at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco specializing in  microlepidoptera.  I’m a big fan of Chris’ blog, which I featured in New Bug Blogs of note earlier this year, and his first effort as a blog carnival host – covering 14 submissions in all (including some extraordinary wasp mimics) – is as solid as they come.  I hope you’ll not only check out this edition of TMaM, but also the rest of TSM – its combination of high quality photography and lepidopterous erudition make it the real deal.

Lastly, House of Herps #7 – Dr. Seuss Edition is up at the home site, House of Herps.  This one is a real treat, as HoH co-founder Jason Hogle has once again shown why, in just a few short months, he has become one of the top blog carnival hosts around.  For this issue, Jason takes us back to our childhoods with his own version of Dr. Seuss (and with herp links artfully embedded).  For myself, when I think back on my childhood, I remember catching snakes and turtles and lizards and frogs and holding them (temporarily) in assorted home-made terraria (often just a big pickle jar with dirt and rocks and a dish of water.  I didn’t care what they were called (I always gave them names of my own choosing), I just enjoyed watching them and seeing how they behaved and figuring out what they ate.  Head on over to HoH and rekindle that childhood fascination with all things creepy and crawly.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

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Critters, and berries, and trees! (Oh, my!)

Several of my favorite blog carnivals have posted new issues this week – should make for some good reading over the weekend. If you’ve not yet had the chance to explore these carnivals, they are a nice way to find blogs of interest that you may not otherwise encounter. If you have, then you know the quality and diversity of their contributions make them an easy way to catch up on the latest thinking in their respective subjects. Head on over and explore the links – and as always, don’t forget to tip the waiter!

Circus of the Spineless #51 is up at Deep-Sea News.  Against the backdrop of the sickening and ongoing debacle in the Gulf Coast, Kevin Zelnio reminds us that it is not just fish, birds, and dolphins that are/will be suffering for a long time to come, but the unsung invertebrates as well. (Personal opinion – somebody better go to prison over this!). It is in this context that 19 contributions are presented, spanning 4 phyla and 3 arthropod classes. Insects, as always, are well represented (for my part, I temporarily set aside my beetle-myopia to promote a new ant paradigm).

Berry Go Round #28, titled “The best of the best in plant biology, conservation, photography, and evolution”, can be found at Greg Laden’s Blog. It’s nice to see heavy-hitter Greg giving some much needed support to this delightful blog carnival – not just by providing a well-organized collection of links to recent blog posts about plants, but also in discussing the value of blog carnivals – regardless of their size – and ways to make them more useful. I especially like this suggestion:

And, if you are engaged in social networking in any way (Facebook, Twitter, Whatever) please send this carnival out on that network, and at least a selection of the blogs linked herein.

I haven’t featured this blog carnival in awhile, but Casey has posted a fine Festival of the Trees #48 at Wandering Owl Outside. Liberally sprinkled with his own tree photographs, Casey presents an issue focused on the uses of trees – both by wildlife and, most interestingly, by the indigenous cultures of North America.  Another intriguing post shows the current state of worldwide deforestation – “the numbers are UGLY!”

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae

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May Beetles and Herps

Issue #4 of An Inordinate Fondness is up at xenogere, and once again Jason Hogle has unleashed his natural talent as a blog carnival host in fine form.  Join Jason on a meandering road trip across the continent and back, as he visits the latest crop of beetle bloggers and engages them in coleopterous conversation.  I hope you’ll join the fun and visit the links, and as always don’t forget to tip the waiter!

Another carnival that I follow with interest is House of Herps, and Bernard Brown at Philly Herping has just posted HoH #6. There is a nice assortment of posts featuring frogs, salamanders, snakes and lizards (including one on a very rare Florida endemic, submitted by some guy – I forget his name), and I think the gopher snake photos are the gem of this issue. May is a happening month for herps, so be sure to check out this month’s presentation (and as always don’t forget to tip the waiter)!

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

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The Moth and Me #11

The Moth and MeWelcome to issue #11 of The Moth and Me, the monthly carnival devoted to the “forgotten” lepidopterans. Most people – even entomologists – regard these as the lesser leps, denizens of the night, as if to hide their somber-colored drabness from the flashy brilliance of their rhopaloceran relatives. Of course, this simply isn’t true, as the contributions to this month’s issue well demonstrate. Butterflies may be among the largest insects on earth, but the largest lepidopteran in the world is a moth. They may also be as gaudily colored as the rainbow itself, but what butterfly is more colorful than the Urania day-flying moths (the genus name literally means, “The heavenly one”).   And, they may be almost universally accepted by a largely insect-indifferent public, but who among us does not think back to that first sight of a luna moth as the most stunning insect we had ever seen to that point.  Yes, moths are all that butterflies are, and for this month’s issue of TMaM, 15 contributions by nine writer’s show us why.

Family Saturniidae – Giant Silkworm & Royal Moths

Tales from the Butterfly Garden: LepcuriousLuna moths belong to the royal moths of the family Saturniidae, and as the name implies they are not the only stunningly beautiful member of the group. Kristen at Tales from the Butterfly Garden: Lepcurious writes about an encounter with the Sweetbay Silkmoth (Callosamia securifera).  Like other members of the family, larvae of this species are rather particular about the type of tree that they utilize for food, which in the case of this moth is sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana).  I’m a little too far north here in Missouri for this tree, so I have never seen this moth.  However, I have seen (and reared) some of its close relatives, the Promethia Silkmoth (Callosamia promethea) which hosts on several plant species and the Tulip-tree Silkmoth (Callosamia angulifera) which hosts on Tulip Tree (Liliodendron tulipifera).

Family Zygaenidae – Leaf Skeletonizer Moths

xenogereJason Hogle at xenogere is fond of the unusual and has a gift for finding it. In his post The Unmoth, Jason shows us a male grapeleaf skeletonizer (Harrisina americana) – not your typical moth!, The uniformly black color and bright red neck collar just screams “Don’t eat me – I’m poisonous”, and indeed species in this family are among the few insects capable of producing hydrogen cyanide!  As the name suggests, larvae skeletonize the leaves of both wild and cultivated grapes (Vitis spp.), as well as the related Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia).

Family Noctuidae – Noctuid Moths & Tiger Moths

Tales from the Butterfly Garden: LepcuriousRoyal moths are not the only stunningly colored moths that Kristen at Tales from the Butterfly Garden: Lepcurious has found in Florida, as she shows in this post on Oleander Moths (Syntomeida epilais) and a companion piece on its Oleander host plant.  This striking day-active moth, also called Uncle Sam Moth (for its red, white, and blue colors) and Polka-Dot Wasp Moth (for obvious reasons), may seem like an easy-to-spot target for would be predators, but its gaudiness is actually warning of the toxic chemicals it has sequestered in its body from the Oleander on which it fed as a larva.  Oleander contains the toxins oleandrin, a cardiac glycoside, and neandrin and is toxic if ingested.  Although oleander is an Old World exotic, oleander moths may also be found feeding on devil’s potato vine (Echites umbellata), which may have been their native Florida host before the introduction of oleander to the United States.

See TrailAside from the underwings (genus Catacola) and the recently incorporated tiger moths, Noctuids are typically thought of as the “basic brown moths” – relying on just the aforementioned groups to add a splash of color to the family’s otherwise drearyness.  Nothing could be further from the truth – check out the stunning Eight-spotted Forester (Alypia octomaculata) in this post by Matthew York at See Trail. Larvae of this beautiful little moth feed on ampelopsis, Virginia creeper, and other plants in the grape family (similar to the grape leaf skeletonizer above). “A great moth; brilliant color, diurnal…… and yes… Noctuid. Some moths, like people, don’t go with the trends.”

See TrailFor the most part, tiger moths shun the daytime in preference for the safety of the night. That does not mean, however, that they are any less colorful, as Matthew York at See Trail shows in his post Poor Grammia. Notarctia proxima, the Mexican Tiger Moth, and its relatives have had a bit of name shuffling over the years at the hands of taxonomists – formerly placed in the genera Grammia and Apantesis. Whatever name you call it, the striking white and black striped forewings give a clue about their common name of tiger moths, and the red, black-tipped abdomen not only add to its beauty, but belies the defensive compounds it surely contains.

Speaking of tiger moths and defensive compounds, watch the video that Chris Grinter at The Skeptical Moth included in his post Moth Perfume. In it, Chetone angulosa gives a striking display of a common defensive mechanism for the group – excreting hemolymph (sweating blood, so to speak!). So spectacularly does the moth do this that you can actually hear the hissing sound of the fluid being pumped from the body. Moreover, there seem to be at least a couple of active ingredients in the froth – one that smells like peppermint, and another that causes numbing of the tongue (as Chris can testify firsthand – he is a truly dedicated experimental naturalist!).

Karthik's JournalIn similar fashion to our North American species of underwing moths (Catocola spp.), the related Eudocima materna, one of the fruit-sucking moths of south India, uses its drab-colored forewings to hide its brilliantly colored hindwings, as Karthik at Karthik’s Journal shows us in his post Startling Displays.  This forms a double line of defense against would-be predators – the forewings blend marvelously into the color of the tree trunks upon which it rests during the day, camouflaging the insect and making it nearly invisible.  If this doesn’t work, a sudden flash of the hindwings may startle the predator just enough to allow the moth to take flight to another tree – where it instantly “disappears” as soon as it closes its wings.

Snails Eye ViewAustralia also has some very colorful fruit-piercing moths, and Bronwen Scott at Snails Eye View presents some beautiful photos of the particularly strikingly-colored Othreis iridescens. Like other members of the group, this Far North Queensland endemic feeds on fruit (Pycnarrhena novoguineensis and Hypserpa laurina, both Menispermaceae, in the case of this species), but as it is apparently the rarest of the primary fruitpiercing moth species in Australia it is not considered to be a pest (and Bronwen would cut it some slack even if it was!).

EntophileAdults are but only one of four life stages that all moths go through. If moths are the “forgotten” leps, then caterpillars are the “forgotten” moths. In many cases, the caterpillar stage cannot be recognized until it becomes a moth (and in some cases the caterpillars are completely unknown). Fortunately, Navy entomologist corycampora at Entophile recognized the caterpillar he found on his croton bush, which he features in the post Croton caterpillar, Achaea janata (Linnaeus), (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). These “eating machines” can be just as fascinating to observe as their scaled adult counterparts, and while croton seems to be a preferred host in Hawaii, it apparently also feeds on castor beans (judging by its other common name, Castor Oil Semi-looper).

Family Notodontidae – Prominent Moths

the Marvelous in NatureOften dismissed as noctuids, the prominent moths tend to be fuzzier, more thickly-bodied moths that rest with their wings curled around their abdomen or tented over their back (rather than flat like noctuids and most other moths). TMaM organizer Seabrooke Leckie at the Marvelous in Nature has a love affair with prominents, and in her post Georgian Prominent, she features the nicely thick-bodied and fuzzy Georgian Prominent, Hyperaeschra georgica. The caterpillars of this widespread species feed on oak (Quercus spp.), thus, unless you live in the Pacific Northwest you stand a good chance of encountering this species – if you’re you’re willing to make the effort.

Family Psychidae – Bagworm Moths

xenogereMany of us are probably familiar with the evergreen bagworm moth (Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis), whose large, cone-shaped bags almost look like fruit hanging from the evergreen bushes on which the caterpillars feed. But did you know there are other species of bagworms as well? Jason Hogle at xenogere does, and he compares and contrasts two of them in this duo of posts, Rainy day on the patio and The Other Bagworm. One huge and prominent, the other (Dahlica triquetrella) very small and oft unseen. One with all manner of plant matter stuck to its bag, the other usually mistaken for small bits of dirt or wood. Jason is so good, he can even determine the sex of the caterpillar inside the bag!

Family Sphingidae – Hawk Moths

Roundtop RumingsCarolyn at Roundtop Rumings is hoping that somebody can Name this moth, which she found on the door of her cabin in the forests of Pennsylvania. Don’t let her inability to name this moth fool you, however, for her post contains loads of information on exactly the kinds of characters one should take note of when trying to identify hawk moths. Large size and membership in a popularly studied group aren’t enough – what do the hindwings look like? Are there any spots on the abdomen? As a coleopterist, I hesitate to offer my relatively uninformed opinion on the exact genus and species for this moth, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest maybe something in the genus Ceratomia, perhaps the waved sphinx (C. undulosa)?

I hope you have enjoyed this issue of The Moth and Me, and my sincere thanks go out to all of those who contributed!  The hosting slot for next month’s issue of TMaM is still open, but you can submit your contributions anyway to Seabrooke Leckie at the home site for inclusion in the June 2010 issue once a host is selected.  The submission deadline is June 13, with the issue appearing a few days later.  Perhaps you might like to host the June issue – hosting is not only fun, but also a great way to introduce readers to your site and generate a little traffic.  Contact Seabrooke at the home site if you’re interested – I’m sure she would love to hear from you.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

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CotS #50 – the Mantis Shrimp Edition

Circus of the Spineless turns 50 (issues) this month, and this special edition is hosted by Mike Bok at Arthropoda.  This is Mike’s first blog carnival hosting gig, but there is nothing rookie about his presentation – the 19 submissions are skillfully organized with visual appeal and just  enough hook to invite clicking.  Stop on by and see a sampling of the latest in invertebrate blogging (and don’t forget to tip the waiter).

As a caveat, I feel I’ve been a bit remiss in not featuring Mike’s blog when I first found it a few months ago, as it has quickly became one of the regular stops on my rounds.  Mike is a graduate student at University of Maryland, and while his primary  interest is in the mantis shrimp visual system, his posts span the breath of the Arthropoda (my phavorite phylum!).  I enjoy his generally casual tone while covering fairly academic subject matter.  One thing I’ve learned after reading Arthropoda for awhile – mantis shrimp are hecka cool!  If you don’t believe me, check out this video of the pseudopupil of a mantis shrimp eye in action (look for it at 0:14-0:18).

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

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