Strumigenys rogeri in the leaf litter In 1982, a small journal called The Coleopterists Bulletin carried a two page note by beetle expert Terry Erwin that increased- by an order of magnitude- the estimated number of species on the planet. Erwin crunched some back-of-the-napkin numbers based on the tree specificity of arthropods he'd collected in Panamanian tree canopies and the richness of tropical tree species worldwide to surmise that the earth should hold 30 million species. An impressive bump from the 1 to 2 million that was the going estimate. Later research on canopy arthropods (For…
While photographing a Lasius alienus colony in the park yesterday I noticed a red, round mite hanging off the leg of this worker ant. I'm glad we humans don't have parasites like these. Perhaps if we're really nice, Macromite will tell us something about the little guy. Photo details: Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS 50D ISO 100, f13, 1/250 sec, diffused flash heads positioned for backlighting and fill
...to his spectacular SEM images.
If millipedes were not adorable enough on their own, they are often teeming with special little mites. The millipede and the mites typically have a symbiotic relationship wherein the millipede provides the mites with a home and the mites provide an extra layer of terror in the event that an elementary school child on a field trip actually builds up the courage to hold the Giant African millipede. Who's seen Cloverfield?
A close-in crop of the body: photo details: Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon 20D ISO 100, f/13, 1/250sec exposure
A team of Florida International University zoologists studying poison arrow frogs in South America have identified the source of the colorful critters' toxicity. Researchers have long known that the amphibians do not produce the toxic compounds, alkaloids, themselves, but were uncertain of their origins. The FIU team discovered that the frogs were eating tiny oribatid mites that are abundant in decaying plant matter. Analysis of the mites determined over 80 types of alkaloids present in their tiny bodies, explaining the source of the frogs' defense.Come on... just one quick taste... all the…