Posts

, ,

Western Specialties

IMG_3652

Living in Western Canada is pretty sweet. Especially here on the coast, we have a plethora of awesome insects that only occur in this region. I am trying to savour these insects while I can, as this fall I am moving to Toronto.

The snakeflies (Raphidioptera) are awesome animals, with a delightfully elongate prothorax and long bladelike ovipositors. These insects are fairly common in the early spring in a Garry Oak meadow not far from my mother’s house, so whenever I am in the vicinity at the right time I keep an eye out for them.

IMG_3654

The most common snakeflies in BC are members of the genus Agulla.

 

IMG_3658-2

What I had not noticed about these insects is how the pronotum wraps around ventrally, like a shield. Also look at the awesome ornamentation on the thorax!

1QJ09QJ0UQRSAQDKSKO0LKA0KKUKQKT06Q2K0K9KGKY05QD0PQEKEQ2K8QUK0KO00KPKKKC06QRS6Q

The larvae of snakeflies are difficult to find, but if you flip over enough rocks or logs, you may just find one!

lift 2

In fact, flipping over logs is exactly how I found this next western treasure…A tiger beetle that may just shatter your image of tiger beetles forever.

IMG_5220

This is Omus dejeani, often referred to by its awesome common name, the greater night-stalking tiger beetle. This is a tiger that could easily be mistaken at a glance for a carabine, if not for the shape of the thorax. This is not a slender, bright, iridescent speedster, but rather a hulking, powerful night terror.

 

IMG_5243

Yes, make no mistake, this is a tiger through and through. The mandibles tell the tale. Bugguide has this to say about the origin of the generic name Omus: Probably from Greek omos (ωμος)- “raw, crude” or “savage, fierce, cruel”

IMG_5249

Regardless of the name, this beetle is a truly impressive beast, though I rarely encounter it. I wonder if it could be because of the introduction of the two similarly-sized invasive carabines Carabus granulatus and Carabus nemoralis.

Anyhow, regardless of where you live, get out and enjoy what your region has to offer. Insect season is in full swing, and life is short. This summer I will keep flipping logs to savour the western specialties!

IMG_5282

Log flipping also brought me an encounter with another western treasure: the rough skinned newt (Taricha granulosa). Who doesn’t love a newt!

 

 

 

 

 

 

, ,

Friday night fun: spiders at Iona Beach

 

IMG_5341

Samantha Vibert, Gwylim Blackburn, Catherine Scott and Sam Evans in the midst of examining an unidentified jumping spider.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of ferrying four Vancouver-area spider researchers out to Iona Beach in Richmond for a bit of a Friday-evening ramble in search of spiders. Gwylim Blackburn and Samantha Vibert are old hands at spider observations at this site, Gwilym had studied Habronattus americanus and Samantha  had studied Hobo Spiders. Catherine Scott (who studies black widows) and Sam Evans (a recent recruit to Wayne Maddison’s lab) came along as well.  This was a Toyota Tercel loaded down with spider talent!

daisy

Daisy did not ask for this in her old age, but performed admirably nonetheless.

 

IMG_5362

We arrived shortly after 7 pm, and despite the late hour, we found a few jumping spiders, although Habronattus americanus was already in bed. I only managed to sneak in a couple photos of large Phidippus.

IMG_5381

IMG_5290

Sam searches among moss and Scotch Broom.

IMG_5300

A long-jawed orbweaver male (Tetragnathidae) tucked in with a pupating beetle.

IMG_5309

A freshly-moulted harvestperson with exuvium still attached!

IMG_5282

A large ichneumonid among pine needles.

IMG_5325

A 10-lined june beetle larva under a log.

IMG_5384

A wolf spider in her burrow with a freshly-laid eggsac.

IMG_5389

Gwylim searches the beach.

Just before the gates were due to close at the park, we spotted a couple of snails, seemingly uncaring of our log-flipping sharing a tender moment. We hope they had a fun night!