We tend to think of insects as free living and often forget that there are many that live most of their lives (at some life stage) hidden from view. This might be the larval stages of organisms like cicadas that spend almost all of their often-long lives underground, or beetle larvae that develop inside trees and only emerge as adults for a very short period.
On Deakin University’s SLE226 Team-based Environmental Research Grampians fieldtrip this week we noticed these galls on one of the outdoor tables. A Crimson Rosella had been opening the galls in an overhead Eucalyptus tree and dropping the mainly fed upon gall remains down. Closer inspection showed that some of the gall forming bugs remained inside unopened galls. They’re like cute little Ewoks crossed with Walkers from The Empire Strikes Back - perhaps that’s just me.
Galls are often overlooked as organisms and especially as a resource for other animals. Here in Australia there are a wide range of gall forming insects including large radiations on our principal tree genera like Eucalyptus and Acacia (wattles). These trees may be covered in them when the tree is not in bloom providing a rich and nutritious resource throughout the year.
Some of the Many Little Things providing for others - how sweet!
Meet the crabeater seal (Lobodon carcinophaga). It’s a charming specialized predator that lives on the coasts of Antarctica. It feeds almost exclusively on krill (90% of their diet) and sometimes cephalopods and antarctic fish.
Technique: The seal gobbles mouthfuls of krill and water drains through the spaces created by its teeth.
Crabeaters have little food competition, but as pups they are heavily preyed upon by leopard seals.
If you love the crabeater mug go here for a short story told by the person who photographed it.
Top two photos from The Brain Scoop. If you love natural history, museums, and taxidermy, follow them!
Happy brothers after being rescued from a circus [video]
The other day I heard my dog barking, so I went to check on her and see what wildlife she was scoping out in the window. Instead, I found her staring at the wall. I turned around to leave her to her silliness but then I realized she’s a poodle, which means she’s wicked smaht. So I went back to check and sure enough, there was this beetle crawling up the bricks right where my dog was staring.
Turned out to be a scarab beetle, Osmoderma ermicola. I’ve been seeing a few folks post photos of these big beasties in their homes this summer - they must like to come indoors for some reason.
N’Chwaning I Mine, N’Chwaning Mines, Kuruman, Kalahari manganese field, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
Orange Ground Polypore
Hail polypores, one of the only mushrooms going when its so dry!
(Marin, California - 9/2014)
Bodacious Bull Ants (Formicidae: Myrmeciinae: Myrmecia)
In Australia colonies of Myrmecia (bull ants, bulldog ants, jumping jacks, jackjumpers) are a conspicuous and formidable component of the indigenous biota. Bull ants are dominantly Australian with 89 described species spread across the continent, mainly in the cooler southern regions, and a species in New Caledonia. In the past relatives of these ants were much more widespread, with fossils of at least six extinct genera recorded from the Americas and Europe.
Myrmecia can be tricky to photograph because of their size, excellent vision and aggressive defense of their usually small colonies. You know when you have been bitten by one of these beauties - these images resulted in two bites and I can still feel the result a week later!
Many Little Things with Stings!
photos by franz lanting in botswana’s okavango delta
Happy 108th to America’s first National Monument, Devils Tower National Monument! On this day in 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt used the Antiquities Act to create the monument.
Photo: C. Velasco