This giant water bug is this week’s feature. It is a chunky beast, often measuring more than 5-cm in length. Their close relatives are often eaten as a snack throughout many parts of the world.
This particular species was included in a piece I put together called ‘The Usual Suspects’ over at Buzz Hoot Roar. This site is the coolest graphical science blog around, do have a wander through their archives – so many great posts!
It’s getting to be that time of the year when a bedroom light and an open window can lead to an extra bit of entomology before drifting off to sleep. Earlier this week, I was treated to a visit by this pretty-little noctuid moth: Bright-lines brown-eyes (Lacanobia oleracea). I have many wonderful memories of moths flying about before bed, in particular my brother and I spotting luna moths (Actias luna) doing circles of the street lamp outside our window. This particular species isn’t quite as majestic as a luna moth, but definitely a lovely reminder that summer is on the way. It’ll be cockchafer (Melolontha melolontha) season next (Hooray!).
While doing a little impromptu bird-watching this weekend, Bibio marci paid me a visit. I figured it was only right to feature this short-lived species as bug of the week.
I’ve got some exciting news! One of the coolest science blogs out there (Buzz Hoot Roar), posted a piece I recently wrote. Buzz Hoot Roar is a graphics driven blog that explains a scientific concept in 300 words or less. The team is wonderful to work with: inordinately kind, professional, and very fun. If you have an interest in creating some sciart, and exploring a unique project in science communication – I would certainly recommend BHR. You can read the new piece (about arthropod species that tend to freak people out) here.
“The two striped grasshopper (Melanoplus bivattus) is widely distributed across North America. It is found throughout urban and rural habitats. When it reaches high densities this species may inflict agricultural damage. Its name comes from the two yellow dorsal stripes that run along the length of its body”
This is a species we grew up chasing all over the place. Like other orthoptera (crickets and grasshoppers), this species goes through incomplete metamorphosis: where a smaller grasshopper gets larger with each moult, eventually ending up with fully-functioning wings. My siblings and I grew up calling this species the ‘Big Mama’ grasshopper. Still a little unsure as to why that became a thing. But whenever I see this species, I think immediately ‘Big Mama’.
The bug of the week is Aphodius erraticus. This is a species I have used in experiments during my PhD, and is particularly endearing. Its elytra is a charming golden-bronze, with dark inner striae which almost gives the impression of an extra-long scutellum. This is one of the most common European species, and it can also be found in North America. It was inadvertently introduced across the pond in soil ballast, or perhaps from livestock dung on less than pristine ships.