This blog has moved.

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If that URL looks familiar, it may be because myrmecos.net has always been my home on the web. I posted my first insect galleries there back in 2003, and the address remained my main site until recently. When I retired the myrmecos galleries last year in favor of smugmug’s improved technology at alexanderwild.com, I played with the idea of moving this blog to its natural domain.

Now I’ve done it.

The recent instability stemming from the Scienceblogs kerfuffle gave me the excuse I needed. I considered offers from other science blogging networks to host Myrmecos, but in the end I liked being able to run my own ship. I get a degree of control over the feel of the site that networks can’t match. And I can kill those annoying advertisements that surface here and there in some browsers.

I apologize once again if you have to update bookmarks, blogrolls, and feeds. This move will be permanent, insofar as these things can be.

If you miss the old myrmecos, don’t despair! It lives on as an archive here:


Rhopalapion longirostre – the Hollyhock Weevil
Urbana, Illinois

The hollyhock weevil is, I believe, the very first beetle in the family Brentidae we’ve featured as part of our Friday series. Rhopalapion longirostre is an introduced European insect that feeds on hollyhocks, a common summer-flowering ornamental that, like its beetle pest, is also introduced. Some neighbors have a stand of these just up the road, and every time I look they are covered in cute little grey weevils (perhaps not coincidentally, the flowers don’t look all that great…)

The female picture here is laying an egg into a flower bud. If you look carefully, you should be able to see the ovipositor sticking into the plant tissue from the tip of her abdomen.

Photo details: Canon EOS 7D camera
Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens
ISO 100, f13, 1/250 sec, diffused flash

…our beekeeping class is harvesting their hard-earned honey crop this morning and I won’t have time to beetle blog until this afternoon.

According to Google Trends, that is:

Insofar as internet search interest in particular insects reflects infestation levels, it seems summer 2010 is a banner year for our little cimicid friends. Peaks occur every summer as rising temperatures increase both the reproductive rate of the bugs and their motility.

Cimex lectularius, the common bed bug

Incidentally, it’s a shame Gawker can’t seem to figure out what real bed bugs look like. I certainly wouldn’t mind an infestation of stag beetles. That’d actually be kinda cool.

What was that ornately sculptured mystery object?

It was the egg of the Question Mark butterfly, Polygonia interrogationis. I admit, I had an advantage over you folks. I identified the species watching the adult butterfly before she laid that egg on an elm leaf.

Although several of you put in solid guesses, I am awarding no points for this week’s mystery. The single correct entry- by lepidopterist and blogger Chris Grinter– provided no supporting information as per our more stringent rules, and the entries with supporting info didn’t arrive at the correct ID.

But don’t feel bad. This was an especially hard mystery, and one that I wouldn’t have gotten myself had I not spied the egg-layer in action.

Monday Night Mystery

Have the aliens landed? Or is tonight’s challenge something more…terrestrial?

Ten Myrmecos Points (TM) for the first commentator who can give me the correct genus and species, with supporting explanation.

The cumulative points winner for the month of July will win their choice of 1) an 8×10-sized print from my photo galleries, or 2) a guest post here on Myrmecos.

From the PBS series Nature:

(as an aside, the narrator sounds suspiciously like the same guy who voiced this arachnid documentary classic)

…according to Google Trends:

…I’m guest-blogging a collecting trip in tropical Australia from a few years back.

Calosoma scrutator, the fiery searcher
Savoy, Illinois

It’s a good thing Myrmecos isn’t a scratch-and-sniff blog. This beetle is a real stinker.

Calosoma scrutator, the fiery searcher, measures about 3cm long and is among our largest native ground beetles. The spectacular metallic coloration serves to warn predators- and, apparently, photographers- of the noxious chemicals it can release when threatened. I had to wash my hands after handling this insect.

photo details: Canon EOS 7D camera
Canon 100mm f2.8 macro lens
(top)ISO 200, f/11, 1/125 sec
(bottom) ISO100, f/13, 1/160 sec
indirect strobe in white box