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Archive for the ‘illinois’ Category

I know, Myrmecos Blog has been horribly boring the last few weeks. Except for the occasional Beetle Blog, that is.

That’s because I’ve been spending most of my time preparing lectures, grading midterms, and other sundry tasks associated with teaching an introductory beekeeping class. I can’t complain, though. The students are a fantastic bunch- and fearless,  judging from all the short sleeves. And playing with handfuls of bees is just plain old-fashioned fun. So the blog has languished more than I would have liked.

Anyway. Here are images from the class.

(more…)

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Prenolepis imparis – winter ant (queen)
Urbana, Illinois

Photo details: Canon mp-e 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS 50D
ISO 100, f13, 1/250 sec, diffused flash

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Cucujus clavipesDendroides fire-colored beetle
Illlinois

We in the Friday Beetle Department don’t often turn our attention to immature beetles. But these Cucujus clavipes Dendroides larvae are too striking to pass up.

Cucujus Dendroides fire-colored beetles inhabit the flat, two-dimensional space under the bark of dead trees. The oddly compressed body helps this insect squeeze through tight spaces looking for food.

update: Identification updated, on closer examination of the urogomphi.  I think everyone should spend more time examining urogomphi.

Photo details: Canon mp-e 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS 50D
ISO 100, f13, 1/250 sec, diffused flash

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Monday Night Mystery

“Ah, an easy one!” you might think.

But no. I’m only handing out 4 points for identifying this common Illinois ant species. I’m more interested in this ant’s quarry, for six points: 2 each for order, family, and genus. First correct guess in each category gets the points.

The cumulative point winner at the end of April gets an 8×10 print from the gallery, or a guest blog post on a topic of their choosing.

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What am I doing this summer?

Good question. I’m teaching Integrative Biology 496: Introduction to Beekeeping.

If you are a University of Illinois student and would like to learn about the biology of Apis mellifera and how to manage a small apiary for honey or just for fun, please consider this 8-week class.  Enrollment is capped at 22 in order to maintain a reasonable student to hive ratio.

The class website is here.

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Ok, so we all know this is a wasp.  But what’s with the lumps near the tip of the abdomen?

Ten points for identifying the lump, and five points for anyone ambitious enough to put a name on the wasp, too.

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Also, my first ever video blog:

Watch the HD version if you can. The ants are actually visible, if you squint.

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At the time I photographed this little scene (at Bell Smith Springs, Illinois) I was myself unsure of the drama playing out on the oak gall. I sent pictures to wasp expert Hege Vårdal to see if my preliminary guess of a pair of gall parasites was worth anything. Her reply: (more…)

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Alright, Sherlock.  What’s going on here?

Five points each for the identity of the big round thing, for the insect at the top, and for the insect at the side. Ten points for describing the story.

And a freebie point to anyone who comes up with an idea for what to do with all these points.

This scene was photographed in the fall in southern Illinois. Here are close-ups of the critters:

mystery wasp #1

mystery wasp#2

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Speaking of bug horror movies:

If you can make it to Champaign-Urbana this weekend, the 2010 Insect Fear Film Festival will feature The Black Scorpion (1957) and Ice Crawlers (2003). The grad students are assembling art displays, face painting, and an impressively large arthropod petting zoo. The’ve even shipped in live horseshoe crabs, as well as bess beetles, tarantulas, ginormous grasshoppers & cockroaches, and others. It’s tremendous fun.

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