Myrmecos

Archives for May, 2009

The spotted maize beetle Astylus atromaculatus is native to subtropical South America but has spread to warm regions in other parts of the world.  In late summer, adults congregate on flowers to mate and feed on pollen. photo details (all photos): Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS 20D ISO 100, 1/250…

Mystery Myrmecophile

I photographed this weird…sluggy thing, I guess you could say, in an ant nest in subtropical Argentina.  Ten points to the first person who picks what it is.

In California, the pesty ant that invaded our kitchen was the Argentine ant (Linepithema humile).  In Tucson, we had South American rover ants (Brachymyrmex patagonicus). Here in Illinois, our kitchen ant is a native species, Tapinoma sessile.  At any given moment we probably have two or three wandering about our countertops.

The summer insect season is upon us here in temperate North America, and with it comes the need for good identification guides. Before I begin, a cautionary note.  We have so many species on our continent that were we to create a bird-type guide that listed all the insects, with their ranges and identifying characteristics,…

I took my shiny new Canon 50D out for a spin this weekend, and along the railroad tracks I found a worthy myrmecological subject: Crematogaster feeding at the swollen nectaries of an Ailanthus Tree of Heaven.  Ailanthus is an introduced Asian tree that’s gone weedy across much of North America.  Our local ants don’t seem…

It seems my barcoding rant from last week has caught the eye of Alex Smith of the University of Guelph.  Alex is the force behind numerous DNA barcoding projects, including the pioneering study on Malagasy trap-jaw ants, and I have elevated his reply from the comments: Hi Alex – happened by myrmecos this morning, saw…

From National Geographic’s In the Womb: [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMG-LWyNcAs]

Pheidole Friday: P. rosae

photo details: Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS 20D ISO 100, 1/250 sec, f/13, flash diffused through tracing paper

…well, not really.  But an exchange I had at Photo Synthesis with Andrew Bleiman of Zooillogix got me thinking about all the different insects that have charmingly envenomated me at one time or another. So I’m starting a meme called Things That Have Stung Me.  The rules are simple: List all the things that have…

One of the most vociferous debates in taxonomy is over a catchy-sounding concept called DNA barcoding.  Since nearly all organisms carry a version of the COI gene in the mitochondrion, the idea is that the DNA sequence of the gene can serve as a standard identification marker.  A barcode, of sorts.  Of course, the practice…