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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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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March Carnivalia

It’s a new month, and that means a new crop of blog carnival issues. I have my favorites that I follow, and since I’m not hosting anything this month (for once!) I thought I’d give you my take on these newest editions.

Circus of the Spineless is the undisputed king of invertebrate blog carnivals as it approaches its semi-centennial issue, and Matt Sarver at The Modern Naturalist introduces each contribution in Circus of the Spineless 48: Cabinet of Curiosity with a quote or image dusted off from the cabinet of scientific curiosity. Book lungs, honey pots, crusty love, hairstreaks, hot tigers (beetles, that is!), giant snails, monarchs, caterpillars, and shocked crayfish top the bill this month.

…botanical carnivals are like a box of chocolates: You never know what you’re going to get, but it’s bound to be delicious!

I have a fond spot in my heart for Berry Go Round, as it was the first blog carnival that I ever hosted. This month, Sally White at Foothills Fancies offers a delicious assortment of botanical treats with Valentines for Plant Lovers (BGR #25). My favorite are the white orchids (of course), but the stunning Arisaema photographs and two very interesting fossil plant posts also piqued my interest.

I don’t have a contribution of my own in this month’s Festival of the Trees, but I promote it anyway because it always offers such an exquisite blend of botanical learnings and passionate, almost spiritual writing. Trees evoke something deep in the human psyche, and this reverance is on full display in the quotes used by Jeremy at The Voltage Gate to introduce the posts in Festival of the Trees #45: Voice. Don’t believe it? How about this teaser?

If you were living just across and if I were a tree
In that yard,
I’d delight you with fruit,
I’ll be watered with your glimpse,
just look at me in ardor,
I’d bear the sweetest fruit for you.

…or this one?

I can’t imagine what it must be like to be tree-bereft, or tree-oblivious. I’m sure I’ve not been as open-hearted as I could be with trees, but I’m learning, and they are great teachers.

I’ve often considered Carnival of Evolution to be the most erudite of the blog carnivals that I follow, and Carnival of Evolution #21: The Superstar Edition by Kelsey at Mauka to Makai proves it. Eight of the issue’s contributors are finalists for Research Blogging Awards and one is an award-winning journalist. See what some of the best science bloggers have to say about biology’s biggest superstar (Darwin, of course) and all manner of terminal branches on his tree of life – from bacteria to fish to birds to mammals. I’ll be trying my own hand at the cerebral challenge of hosting this carnival’s next edition on or about April 1st – it would appear I have a tough act to follow.

Don’t forget – An Inordinate Fondness (my favorite carnival!) will make its first journey away from the homesite this month, with issue #2 to be hosted by Amber Coakley at Birder’s Lounge.  Submissions are due by March 15.  Issue #4 of House of Herps is also scheduled for mid-March but apparently still needs a host.  If you’ve never hosted a blog carnival before, why not give this one a try (every blog carnival host was once a newbie)?  If you have hosted a carnival before, you already know how to do it – why not help?  Submissions for this one are also due by March 15, and you can send them to the home site.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

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Circus of the Spineless #47

When I started participating in blog carnivals last year, Circus of the Spineless was – for me – the pinnacle of blog carnivals.  I wanted to take my shot at hosting this venerable celebration of creepy crawlies, and even though the waiting list for hosting was almost a year long, I offered my services and settled in for the long wait until February 2010.  Ten months have passed and the time has come.  In the meantime, I did my blog carnival host début with Berry Go Round #21 and snatched the sophomore slot for nature blogging’s newest carnival with House of Herps #2.  Through those efforts, I learned that blog carnival hosting is an incredible amount of work/fun, and while plants and herps are fascinating, inverts are my true love.  It is, thus, with great pride that I join the ranks of previous hosts in presenting this, the 47th edition of CotS.  Featured below are 16 submissions by 14 contributors that cover representatives from 5 classes in 3 invertebrate phyla.  A humorous look at some of the personalities behind invertebrate study is presented as a bonus for those who make it to the end.

If you missed last month’s issue, you can find Circus of the Spineless #46 at Kate’s Adventures of a Free Range Urban Primate, and next month’s edition will be hosted by Matt Sarver at The Modern Naturalist.


Coral Reefs
The Voltage GateJeremy at The Voltage Gate reports on peer-reviewed research on the impact of herbivorous fish on the recovery of coral reefs in his post, Protecting herbivorous fishes significantly increases rate of coral recovery.  Coral reefs have been hard hit by the challenges of bleaching and disease, pressures likely linked to climate change, and macroalgae, when given the opportunity to dominate, provide even further challenges.  This can happen when populations of herbivorous fish, major grazers of macroalgae, are reduced through commercial harvest.  The study authors evaluated ten sites over a two-and-a-half year period in and around the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park (ECLSP), which was established as a no-take marine reserve in 1986, finding an increase of coral cover during the study period from 7 percent to 19 percent.  However, ECLSP reefs were responsible for all of this increase, with no net recovery occurring outside the ECLSP.  These results illustrate the importance of reserves as a refuge for biodiversity and the service they provide in keeping marine systems intact.

—-“Informal Group” OPISTHOBRANCHIA

Sea slug (Glaucus atlanticus)
Deep-Sea NewsThis gorgeous nudibranch species got a foul slandering when they started washing up on Gold Coast beaches in Australia.  Miriam Goldstein debunks this unfair treatment in her post, Sea slugs have self esteem too, at Deep-Sea News, noting its absolutely stunning iridescent blue and silver color with gorgeous feathery tentacles.  Further exception is taken with such descriptors as “slimy”, “venomous”, “blue-bottle eating”, and “cannibals” – with the truth behind each of these terms far more fascinating than the visceral reaction their use was intended to elicit.  Good news as well – you don’t have to travel to Australia to see these things – they live throughout the world’s open oceans (but you will have to get far from shore, where the pelagic jellys upon which they feed can be found).

—-“Informal Group” PULMONATA

Iron-clad snail (Cyrsomallon squamiferum)
Deep-Sea NewsI’ve known about iron-clad beetles, species of Zopheridae whose exoskeleton is so hard and thick it is almost impossible to impale them with an insect pin.  I’d never heard of an iron-clad snail, however, until I read Dr. M’s post, The Evolution of Iron-Clad Samurai Snails With Gold Feet, at Deep-Sea News.  Unlike the seemingly iron-impregnated beetles, these snails actually utilize iron sulfide in a series of armor plates covering the “foot.”  Just described in 2003 from a hydrothermal vent in the Indian Ocean, it is the only known animal known to use iron sulfide as skeletal material.  Only time will tell if these snails achieve the same popularity as living jewelry as the beetles.

¹ The taxonomy of the Gastropoda is under constant revision, as the results of DNA studies increasingly reveal as possibly polyphyletic many of the former orders (including the Opisthobranchia and Pulmonata, now known as “informal groups”).


Samurai crab (Heikea japonica)
ArthropodaMike Bok at Arthopoda shares two stories about this crab – one an ancient Japanese legend, the other a modern piece of scientific folklore – in his post, Samurai Crabs: Transmogrified Japanese warriors, the product of artificial selection, or pareidolia?  In the first, popular legend alleges that these crabs were transformed from drowned samurai warriors, each one identifiable by the face of the fallen samurai that it bears on its backs and for whom the crab searches in the depths of the oceans around Japan.  This ancient legend has led to a modern scientific quibble about whether the stylized face that can be seen on the crab’s carapace is the result of artificial selection by generations of superstitious Japanese fishermen, who have selectively released crabs bearing any resemblance to a human face.  This may make for compelling scientific debate, but Mike counters even the considerable eloquence of Carl Sagan in providing his own thoughts on why this likely is not true.


Amphipod (Phronima spp.)
ArthropodaIn another example of the intermixture of science and culture, Mike Bok (Arthopoda) asks, Did Phronima inspire the design of the Alien Queen?  Mike agrees with the claim that the original “soldier” alien morph seen in “Alien” (1979) was based on a painting by artist H. R. Giger, but he thinks that Phronima more likely influenced the design of the queen alien morph in “Aliens” (1986).  The truth may remain hidden at Stan Winston Studios, but the broad crest atop the head of Phronima, bearing tubular, upward-pointing eyes, its “necro-parasitic” tendencies, and a chillingly suggestive photograph of the beast from a 1981 paper lend an air of plausibility to Mike’s hypothesis.


Harvestmen, daddy-long-legs
Kind of CuriousJohn at Kind of Curious follows up on David Attenborough’s Life in the Undergrowth Episode 1 with his post, Daddy Long Legs Daddies (aka Harvestman).  Looking like spiders but lacking their venomous and silk-spinning abilities, it seems that nobody can agree on the proper name for these spider relatives.  Brits call them “harvestmen”, but Americans call them “daddy-long-legs”, a term that in the UK refers rather to crane flies (which less informed Americans simply call “giant mosquitoes”).  Let’s not even mention the daddy-long-legs spider (Pholcus phalangioides), which actually is a spider.

—-Order ARANEA

Neoscona crucifera (barn spider)
XenogereAnyone who hikes along woodland trails in the eastern U.S. during autumn knows what a “spider stick” is – i.e., any handy stick that can be waved probingly in front of one as they hike, lest they run smack into the web of any number of orb weavers that are fond of stretching their large webs across such natural insect flyways. Jason, at Xenogere, has some biggun’s in his neck of the woods, which he describes in intriguing detail in his post, Walking with spiders – Part 3. Barn spiders are some of the biggest, allowing one to fully appreciate their polychroism and polymorphism. I challenge even the most arachnophic of readers to look at Jason’s photographs and not be mesmerized by their beauty.


Autumn meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum)
Rambling Woods~The Road Less TraveledMichelle at Rambling Woods~The Road Less Traveled presents a stunning series of photographs of this gorgeous red dragonfly in her post, Circus of The Spineless~Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will.~James Stephens.  Perching on her hanging basket of pink-flowered begonias, colors matching perfectly, it was almost as if the dragonfly has staked a claim on the hanging basket as it own personal territory.  Where there is one, there are others, and her neighbor’s deck had both a red male and a blue female doing… well, see Michelle’s diagram.


Horned passalus (Odontotaenius disjunctus)
Anybody Seen My Focus?Joan Knapp at Anybody Seen My Focus?  shows photographs of this beetle in her post, Bess Beetle: Horned Passalus (Odontotaenius disjunctus), as it lumbered slowly and gracefully over a fallen tree branch.  Perhaps the cool temperatures were the reason for its sloth.  Or perhaps the missing antenna indicated a feeble, old individual on its last (six) legs.  A brief interruption for photographs seemed not to deter the beetle from its destination, somewhere in the leaf litter beyond the log…


Skipper butterflies (family Hesperiidae)
Nature of a ManRandomtruth at Nature of a Man loves skippers (are they butterflies, or aren’t they?), and you’ll love his photographs of these delightful little half-butterflies in his post, Day Skippers.  While there is some slight doubt about the identity of individuals he sees in his backyard (skippers are notoriously difficult to identify in the field), there is no doubt that these little guys are loaded with personality.  You won’t believe the “natural history” moment he caught on film (er… pixels?) and presented in the final photo sequence.

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)
GrrlscientistGrrlscientist summarizes a recent peer-reviewed paper in her post, Migratory Monarch Butterflies ‘See’ Earth’s GeoMagnetic Field.  The paper reports on photoreceptor proteins in monarch butterflies known as “cryptochromes” that not only allow the butterflies to see ultraviolet light, but also allows them to sense the Earth’s geomagnetic field.  These highly conserved proteins evolved from the light-activated bacterial enzyme phytolase, which functions in DNA damage repair.  Most animals have one of two types of cryptochromes, but monarchs have both – providing the first genetic evidence that the vertebrate-version of cryptochrome is responsible for the magnetoreception capabilities in migratory birds.  Further research may provide insight on the workings of the circadian clock, which could lead to better understanding of sleep disorders and mental illnesses such as depression and seasonal affective disorder, as well as development of new treatments for jet lag and shift-work ailments.


Ants (family Formicidae)
Wild About AntsKatydids, grasshoppers, cicadas – what do ants have on these singers of the insect world?  Plenty, as Roberta at Wild About Ants points out in her post, Ants: No Longer the Strong Silent Types.  It turns out that ants have patches of ridge-like structures on their gaster, which they rub against a curved ridge (called a “scraper”) on the petiole to communicate with each other via stridulation.  While lacking the decibel level of a cicada, these sounds are nevertheless in the audible range for human ears and are thought to have alarm, mating, and recruitment functions.  Even more fascinating, stridulation is not the only tool in the ant music chest – drumming and rattling have also been documented.  Curiously, however, ants do not possess ears, rather likely sensing sounds through their legs or by specialized hairs on their antennae.  Check out the provided links to SEM photographs and a sound recording.

Bald-faced hornet (Dolichovespula maculata)
Hill-Stead's Nature BlogDiane Tucker, Estate Naturalist at the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, Connecticut, writes at Hill-Stead’s Nature Blog. In her post, Be it ever so humble, she takes a look at some of the different animal nests that become revealed during autumn’s leaf drop – particularly those made by the bald-faced hornet (and also birds such as oriole’s).  From its start as simple cluster of chambers, to its growth over the course of the summer – growing fatter until the summer’s apex of warmth and light, then tapering off with the approach of fall, these insect homes are a marvel of nature – intricately constructed homes made entirely of paper.


Common green bottle fly (Lucilia sericata)
Bug Girl's BlogBug Girl discusses the resurging use of bottle fly larvae in her post, Maggot therapy.  The academic among us will appreciate her discussion of the mechanisms that allow these seemingly disgusting vermin to function as incredibly delicate microsurge0ns in cleaning and disinfecting open wounds.  The morbid among us will appreciate the links to the most entertainingly disgusting medical photos one can imagine.  Check it out – but not over your lunch hour!


Wanderin' Weeta (With Waterfowl and Weeds)Wanderin’ Weeta (With Waterfowl and Weeds) was going to make an owl out of Douglas fir cones, but instead she found globular springtails, a crab spider, and a ladybug in a sprig of fir.  We’re glad she has an interest in little hitchhikers such as these, even if the kids at school when she was growing up didn’t.


Bug Girl shows that entomologists have a sense of humor with her post, Monday Morning bug jokes – a video compilation of jokesters from the recent Entomological Society of America Annual Meeting in Indianapolis.  My favorites were the best dung beetle pickup line (“Is this stool taken?”) and Marvin Harris’ rendition of the minimum number of insects needed to elicit control (1 pubic louse, or 1/2 codling moth larva :)).  J. McPherson was equally, if unwittingly, hilarious due to his Christopher Lloyd-esque mannerisms.  My favorite entomological joke of all, however, was not featured, so I offer the following addendum to Bug Girl’s post:

Copyright Ted C. MacRae 2010

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Triple Quiz

Photo Details: Canon EOS 50D w/ Canon 100mm macro lens, ISO 100, 1/250 sec, f/20, MT-24EX flash w/ Sto-Fen diffusers.

  1. Entomology Quiz: Name the beetle.
  2. Botany Quiz: Name the plant.
  3. History Quiz: Name the location (yes, attentive readers will be able to deduce this).

While you ponder these questions, please make note of two upcoming blog carnivals:

  • Circus of the Spineless – I’ve waited almost a year to host issue #47 of this venerable blog carnival – look for its appearance early next week.  Send me your submissions by January 31 if you want to be included in this issue – ossified homeotherms need not apply.
  • An Inordinate Fondness – The inaugural issue of this monthly blog carnival devoted to beetles is set to debut in mid-February at the home site.  Post submissions are already starting to come in, so don’t miss this chance to be a founding participant.  Submissions are due by February 15 – either by email or using this handy BlogCarnival submission form.

I’ve discovered a few more interesting blogs since my last blogroll update – the following are definitely worth a visit:

  • Biodiversity in Focus Blog – A new blog by graduate student Morgan Jackson.  Amazing photographs of stilt-legged flies (Diptera: Micropezidae).
  • BunyipCo – David Rentz writes about entomology from Queensland, Australia, with a focus on orthopteroid insects and the rain forest.
  • I Love Insects – Entomology student and insect enthusiast Erika Lenz really loves insects.
  • – A relatively new blog by a dragonfly/butterfly enthusiast in Denmark.
  • Forest Fragments – Just a stone’s throw from my backyard, the staff at Washington University’s Tyson Research Center has begun a blog about their 2,000-acre experiment.
  • Exploring the Remnants – A brand new blog from Aaron Brees, who explores Iowa’s natural history.  Drop by and give him a jump start.

For those really interested in exploring entomology-related blogs, Anna Miller has provided nice descriptions of her Top 25 Entomology Blogs.  Yes, I made the list, as did most of the other usual suspects, but you might find one or two that you didn’t know about.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

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Sunday Matinée: Buzzed Creep Cockroaches

Credit goes to dreptungeek from Romania for finding this.

In other news, the New Year has brought with it a plethora of natural history-focused blog carnivals, including several of my favorites:

  • Circus of the Spineless #46 is up at Kate’s Adventures of a Free Range Urban Primate.  A fine selection of invertebrate posts is featured, including tool-using octopi, deep-sea pelagics, tiny isopods, lotsa bugs (real and colloquial), and, of course, one really impressive fly!  I’ll be hosting the next issue right here at BitB—send me an email with a link to your submission by January 30 if you’d like to participate.
  • Jason Hogle at xenogere has followed up his first blog carnival hosting effort (I and the Bird #115) with the equally impressive Festival of the Trees #43: The Celebration Tree Grove.  Jason deftly weaves the submitted posts into a celebration of trees as providers of sustenance, beacons of spirituality, and victims of our own shortsightedness.  I, sadly, had nothing to contribute to this issue, but I guarantee you will be mesmerized by its meandering passages.
  • The natural history feast continues with Carnival of Evolution #19 at Christie Lynn’s Observations of a Nerd.  Evolutionary tales run the gamut, from tiny orchids to giant caterpillars to really big-headed tiger beetles.  Go take a look.
  • Jeremy at Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog has been on holiday break, but he should be back any day with the 23rd issue of Berry Go Round.  I know for a fact that a stunning terrestrial native orchid will be featured, and I look forward to seeing what other botanical treasures he will have included in this issue.

A final note—don’t forget to check back here on or about January 18 for House of Herps #2 (yes, I’m hosting two blog carnivals this month!).  Send your submissions to House of Herps or directly to me by January 15 if you wish to get in on this new carnival.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

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CotS #45

Circus of the Spineless #45 is up.

Go to Greg Laden’s Blog and read about scale insects, exotic pests, spiders, more spiders, more more spiders, millipedes, more more more spiders, the world’s most astoundingly beautiful lacewing (one of the Iberian spoonwings), cricket neurons, mosquito sensillae, “not real” katydids, cave crickets, gross flies, ants that love corn chips, moths that love their vegetables, extinct insects, Jamaican leps, a spider wannabe, jingle shells (breaking this issue’s arthropod stranglehold), pet worms, missing mussels…

…and (my favorite)… one seriously fearsome looking baby beetle!  Take a look and leave a comment! 

For the botanically inclined, Berry Go Round #22 is up at Seeds Aside.  I had a whale of a time hosting this carnival last month, so let’s show it a little love.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2009

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Do you know what time it is?

I’ll give you a few hints:

  • It’s fall.
  • I haven’t collected bugs for a few weeks.
  • A new crop of tiger beetles has emerged from their burrows.

What time is it?


 I don’t think there is any trip during the year that I look forward to more than this one. Hunting for insects is fun no matter what, but it is particularly enjoyable when the sweltering days of summer give way to the cool days of fall – crisp air, pungent, earthy aromas, shadows long and sharp, and skies so blue above a golden, tawny, morphing landscape. How I adore fall, and how I thrill at any chance to travel across the fall landscape chasing after gorgeous tiger beetles that have spent the spring and summer as larvae, hidden in their unseen burrows, growing fat on the few hapless insects that chanced too close to their burrow, until the rains of late summer and early fall trigger their transformation to adulthood – glittering jewels that emerge out into the autumn world for a brief session of dining and play before winter forces them back into their burrows for the long wait to spring.

This year’s edition is somewhat abbreviated – little more than a long weekend due to a combination of job and family responsibilities. Still, five days is a little better than four (and a lot better than none) and is long enough for me to play a hunch that I’ve had ever since I returned from the Red Hills of northwestern Oklahoma this past June. You’ll recall that I had some rather amazing luck on that trip, discovering a robust population of the very rare Cylindera celeripes (Swift Tiger Beetle) and a slight western range extension of the seldom seen Dromochorus pruinina (Frosted Dromo Tiger Beetle). While I was exploring that landscape, the habitat reminded me of another tiger beetle – Cicindela pulchra (Beautiful Tiger Beetle), a glorious species – brilliant purple with glassy wine-red elytra – that I had seen in 2005 in the nearby Gypsum Hills of south-central Kansas. I don’t know if that species occurs in the Red Hills of northwestern Oklahoma or not, but my impression is that the area has not been very well explored. If a species as rare as C. celeripes can be found there, perhaps C. pulchra will occur there as well. The enormous tiger beetle larvae that I saw in their burrows in the Gloss Mountains during June gives me further reason to believe there may now be some impressive adult activity in the area.

Should I not succeed in finding C. pulchra, it will nevertheless be a glorious, though frenetic trip. On Friday I’ll drive 525 miles from St. Louis to the Gloss Mountains, where I’ll explore during the early part of Saturday and then finish the day at Alabaster Caverns State Park. Sunday’s itinerary depends upon whether I succeed at finding C. pulchra in the Gloss Mountains – if I do, I’ll head on over to Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge to photograph some of the fall tiger beetles that were not out during my June trip (hopefully including Eunota togata globicollis, or Alkali Tiger Beetle). If I don’t find C. pulchra in the Gloss Mountains, I’ll explore the Red Hills of Barber Co. Kansas, where I’ve seen this insect in the past and attempt to find and photograph it there, then move on to Salt Plains on Monday. I’m really hoping my C. pulchra hunch plays out, because if it does that gives me an extra day to shoot back east to my beloved White River Hills in southwestern Missouri and photograph its small, disjunct population of Cicindela obsoleta vulturina (Prairie Tiger Beetle) – the largest member of the genus in North America. Regardless of how events play out, I’ll need to blast back to St. Louis on Tuesday, work a couple of days, then leave town again for my niece’s wedding in New York (congratulations Shannon and Tamer).

While I’m gone, you can click on the interactive map to see where I’m going, or you can catch up on several newly issued Blog Carnivals (I’ve been a busy submitter this past month):

  • Circus of the Spineless. With discussion that is restricted to the 95% of life forms that do NOT have vertebrae, CotS #42 is up at Quiche Moraine.  For my part, I have proposed a replacement name for a rather ‘ubiquitous’ species of tiger beetle.
  • Berry Go Round.  After a brief summer vacation, botanical discussions resume with BGR #20 at Further Thoughts.  My contributions cover zygomorphic flowers with oily rewards, a very ungentianlike gentian, and plant-insect relationships.
  • Carnival of Evolution.  From Darwin to Drift to Deleterious Mutation, find it all at CoE #16 hosted by Pleiotropy.  I’ve added a little ‘perspective’ to the discovery of new species.

No longer just a contributor, at the end of this month I will host my first Blog Carnival in the form of Berry Go Round #21.  I know,  it’s strange that a bug dude is jumping into the Carnival hosting pool with a botanical carnival, but duty calls!  Submissions are due to me by Oct. 27, with a scheduled issue date of Oct. 30.  If you’ve never contributed to a Blog Carnival before, it’s a great way to get exposure for your blog and possibly find other blogs of interest.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2009

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