Feeds:
Posts
Comments
A very nice start to the day! My image of a jumping bush cricket (Orocharis saltator) singing at the base of one of our sumacs is slated to appear next month in an Australian science magazine article dealing with the evolution of insect wings. I'll post a link to the online version of the article once it's available. Thanks to all of my BugShot, CCCC, and Invertebrates in Education and Conservation friends for helping me s l o w l y become a better photographer while having a great time doing so!

Jumping bush cricket (Orocharis saltator) singing. Click/double click image to enlarge.

This image of a jumping bush cricket (Orocharis saltator) singing at the base of one of our sumacs is slated to appear next month in an Australian science magazine (Cosmos) article dealing with the evolution of insect wings. I’ll post a link to the online version of the article once it’s available. Thanks to all of my BugShot, Champaign County Camera Club, and Invertebrates in Education and Conservation friends for helping me s l o w l y become a better photographer while having a great time doing so!

A very nice start to the day! My image of a jumping bush cricket (Orocharis saltator) singing at the base of one of our sumacs is slated to appear next month in an Australian science magazine article dealing with the evolution of insect wings. I'll post a link to the online version of the article once it's available. Thanks to all of my BugShot, CCCC, and Invertebrates in Education and Conservation friends for helping me s l o w l y become a better photographer while having a great time doing so!

The original image shows just how cryptic these crickets actually are… Click/double click image to enlarge.

 

Advertisements
One of our first local insect harbingers of spring now says winter is officially over! Prenolepis imparis females (shown below) are emerging from their winter torpor, and immediately being swarmed by tiny black, pepper grain-sized, winged males. To appreciate our local ant version of the annual African wildebeest migration or Nebraska’s annual sandhill crane migration, go to Busey Woods tomorrow, find a several foot wide expanse of moss (it’s easy, moss is the only green vegetation you’ll find out there right now), sit down next to it, and wait for the frenzy to begin! If you look closely at the end of this light brown female, you will see the wings and top of a small black male who is mating with her. I’ll post more graphic mating sequences on my blog tomorrow. Yup, winter’s now officially done. Hallelujah!

Female Prenolepis imparis. If you look closely at the end of this female, you’ll see the wings and dorsal area of a small black male who is mating with her. Click/double click image to enlarge.

One of our first local insect harbingers of spring now says winter is officially over! Prenolepis imparis females (shown above) are emerging from their winter torpor, and immediately being swarmed by tiny black, pepper grain-sized, winged males.

To appreciate our local ant version of the annual African wildebeest migration or Nebraska’s annual sandhill crane migration, go to Busey Woods tomorrow, find a several foot wide expanse of moss (it’s easy, moss is the only green vegetation you’ll find out there right now), sit down next to it, and wait for the frenzy to begin!

Winter’s now officially done. Hallelujah!

Ant2April2014

A male mates with a female, while another male approaches. Some females were covered by four to five males at a time. Click/double click image to enlarge.

Juvenile male Brazilian black tarantula (Grammostola pulchra) after his most recent molt. Click/double click image to enlarge.

Juvenile male Brazilian black tarantula (Grammostola pulchra) after his most recent molt. Click/double click image to enlarge.

The juvenile male Brazilian black tarantula (Grammostola pulchra) I purchased from Ken the Bug Guy on September 5, 2013 completed his second molt on January 15, 2014. He has been an exceptionally good eater and is quite docile. He is pictured after his first molt along with a brief description of the species at “Brazilian black tarantula (Grammostola pulchra) molt“.

4thBreedingAttemptJanuary152014

Start of the the fourth Honduran curlyhair tarantula (Brachypelma albopilosum) “pairing”, January 15, 2014. Click/double click to enlarge.

The fourth pairing turned out to be a flop, of sorts. The male produced his fourth sperm web three days earlier. When introduced to the female’s cage he showed no interest. There was no drumming on the part of either spider this time. The female remained on the silken mat she produced after the second pairing.

When I introduced him to the area in front of her, she approached him, he touched her front legs, she raised up her cephalothorax and frontmost pair of legs, and spread apart her fangs for him to grasp. She was willing to breed, he was not. At this point, he moved slowly away and, once a bodylength or so away from her, ran up the side and out of her enclosure.

I think the pairing part is done. She is preoccupied with staying in the area of the the silken mat she has spun. Her feeding has dropped off, but I suspect that is temporary. I wanted to move her to a much larger enclosure in December, but did not do so once the male produced his sperm web. I wanted all pairings to occur in her original enclosure, which I thought would be pretty pheromone-filled, increasing the likelihood of a successful pairing.

If the male spins another sperm web I may give it another try, but I think we’re ready to move on to the next stage, so at this point we await an egg sac. It’ll be months until we can determine whether anything comes of this. Whether it does or not, it’s been fascinating to go through this process. I’ve learned a lot from the many invertebrate people who have readily shared their knowledge with me, and both spiders come out of this whole thing healthy and certainly none the worse for the experience.

Special thanks to Jen Newman, Heartland Invertebrates, who has mentored me throughout this process, and for her willingness to answer my questions promptly and in great detail during the last four weeks!

lk

Female Mexican redleg tarantula (Brachypelma emilia). Click/double click image to enlarge.

More about this individual can be accessed at “Mexican redleg tarantula (Brachypelma emilia) determined to be female“.

Breeding pair of Honduran curlyhair tarantula (Brachypelma albopilosum). Click/double click to enlarge.

Breeding pair of Honduran curlyhair tarantulas (Brachypelma albopilosum). Click/double click image to enlarge.

The male Honduran curlyhair tarantula (Brachypelma albopilosum) produced several sperm webs January 4, 2014, so I paired the tarantulas at 9:30 PM on January 6, 2014.

Unlike the second mating, there was no drumming from either individual. They were slower to begin mating than was the case the previous two times. The female was receptive each of the three times they came together tonight. Multiple insertions each time.

I may pair them one more time if the male produces additional sperm webs.

This has been an extraordinarily easy first pair of breeding tarantulas. The first two pairings occurred on December 26, 2013 and January 1, 2014.

,l'

Male Honduran curlyhair tarantula (Brachypelma albopilosum) crawling into the female’s enclosure. She is laying on a silk mat she spun shortly after the first mating six days ago. The male began drumming with his pedipalps and front legs as he moved down the side of her tank. She responded by drumming extremely rapidly with her four frontmost legs for about ten seconds. Click/double click image to enlarge.

;

She turned to meet him as he approached her. Click/double click image to enlarge.

;l

He tentatively stroked her front pair of legs with his front pair of legs. Unlike the previous mating, she moved toward him and began arching her cephalothorax at the pedicel as he approached. She was MUCH more eager. Click/double click image to enlarge.

m

As he moved closer she actually pulled him under her with her pedipalps and extended her fangs (which are HUGE), making it easier for him to grab onto each fang with the tibial hook on each foreleg. Click/double click image to enlarge.

l

She arched her cephalothorax further backward and  he began manipulating his pedipalps, stroking the underside of her abdomen. Click/double click image to enlarge.

lj

He inserted one of his pedipalps into her epigastric furrow and then alternately inserted and withdrew each pedipalp several times. After several minutes he began withdrawing from her. Click/double click image to enlarge.

/;k

They moved apart and came back together to mate two more times. She reared back further and was more willing to breed with each pairing. After the third pairing I put a pair of chopsticks between the two and removed him to the safety of his own enclosure. Click/double click image to enlarge.

kl

Now she looks sad. Or hungry. Or bored. Click/double click image to enlarge.