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…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

My ambient light bug portraits are nowhere near as good as those by the amazing Rick Lieder. But I’m working on it. Here’s a coenagrionid damselfly:


photo details: Canon EOS 7D camera
Canon 100mm f2.8 macro lens
ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/800 sec

Acromyrmex octospinosus

As so many of you guessed, the Getty Taxonomy Fail was not an Atta but an Acromyrmex.

JasonC- who is rapidly emerging as the Monday Night Superstar- was the first to pick it. Eight points for getting the answer right and most of the way there with a supporting explanation. Two more points to NKanakis for a more precise discussion of the difference: Atta has two pairs of spines on the promesonotum, while Acromyrmex bears three pairs.

Back when I lived in Paraguay, I learned the local Guaraní language distinguishes between the two genera. Ysaú for Atta, and Akéké for Acromyrmex. We don’t make such a distinction in English, where both lineages are called leafcutter ants.

In the wake of the Scienceblogs fiasco I have been thinking about the conundrum faced by bug bloggers who decide to offset the costs of their hobby by selling ad space. I’ve noticed a pattern.

All- not just some- but ALL the bug blogs that are supported by advertising serve those godawful Terminex ones. You know the ones I’m talking about, with the scurrying roaches and the scare quotes about Salmonella. It’s as if Terminex decided to take half their PR budget and buy up the blogosphere.

It doesn’t matter if every blog post is about the beauty and wonder of insects, and how each is a splendid marvel of nature. It doesn’t matter if the readership is like-minded buggy folk who cringe at the very thought of pesticides. Terminex will plaster a scare ad across the top.

There is a valid role in our society for pest control companies. It just happens to fill 10% of the space the current industry inhabits. The rest is snake-oil salesmen scaring homeowners into needlessly throwing money at them for imaginary problems. While I do know some excellent pest control people, much of the business- and especially the large internationals- is populated by the ignorant, the money-grubbing, and the ethically-challenged.

Judging from the current blog ads, it seems bug bloggers don’t have a choice. If you run ads, you get Terminex. Surely there must be other companies whose products intersect with an entomologically-literate readership.

[editor’s note: we are not about to start serving ads here at Myrmecos. This is merely an observation stemming from what we’ve seen on other blogs.]

Monday Night Mystery

We’ve pointed and laughed at iStockphoto enough already. Let’s pick on Getty instead:

This ant is misidentified. The horror!

To collect all ten points for tonight’s mystery, be the first to provide the correct genus-level identification. Breaking with tradition, you’ll also need to explain which character(s) support your answer. No exply, no pointsy.

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.