Category Archives: Insects

In situ Pella is the best kind of Pella

Finally got it! Evidence of Pella planifer behaving in its natural environment.

Pella planifer investigating the vicinity of Crematogaster activity.

Pella planifer investigating the vicinity of Crematogaster activity.

We know from work conducted in the Palearctic that species of Pella hang around the nest vicinities of their host ants, preying upon weakened workers and scavenging on whatever opportunities that may arise. But these observations were geographically limited and the few Pella species of North America were a behavioral enigmas.

Based on my own previous observations, it had been becoming clear that North American Pella exhibit similar behaviors and ecologies as their Old World cousins. That’s all dandy but there is nothing that can top visual evidence to support an organism’s behavior in its native environment – today, I’ve finally accomplished this.

Pella planifer biting and tugging at a Crematogaster queen in midst of colony recruitment.

Pella planifer biting and tugging at a Crematogaster queen in midst of colony recruitment.

Crematogaster wake for spring

There’s a Crematogaster colony that lives in my backyard where I’ve periodically searched for Pella planifer. I also use the colony’s activity as a proxy for ant activity. Before I set out to go collecting, I frequently check the activity of ants in my yard in order to assess how the collecting that day is going to be.

Ants active? Great, I’ll check foraging trail periphery for Pella today.

Ants not active cause it’s too hot? Too bad, maybe I’ll put off myrmecophile collecting until fall.

It wasn’t until around 1 PM that the Crematogaster began to forage, a little chilly today. Nonetheless, decided to check out the column for Pella later in the afternoon, hoping to snap some in situ action shots of Pella destroying Crematogaster workers.

For a second there I saw a scuttle out of the corner of my eye - not Pella but a free-living athetine of some sort. Maybe Acrotona?

For a second there I saw a scuttle out of the corner of my eye – not Pella but a free-living athetine of some sort. Maybe Acrotona?

Unfortunately, it was a little too cold today and the previous night’s drop in temp. didn’t help either, oh well. Still got some interesting shots of Crematogaster workers interacting with queens that had recently dropped their flight wings. This species of Crematogaster is polygynous, not sure but I interpreted this behavior as workers trying to recruit new queens. Oddly, the queens weren’t cooperating with the workers.

Crematogaster_5.iv.2014_2 Crematogaster_5.iv.2014_1

Image

Parts of the gland are sclerotized

Preparing glands for SEM imaging – making pelts of glands. Potassium hydroxide digestion leaves behind the sclerotized gland reservoir and ducts, while removing unwanted soft tissue.

dissecting_glands

An image showing a concentration of D1 gland cell ducts.

Myrmedonota nr. defensive glands

Glands

Developing abdominal defensive gland in a 48 hour old Atheta coriaria pupa. Already a dense outline of type 1, D2 epidermal secretory cells are visible outlining the glandular reservoir, which itself is derived from the intersegmental membrane between tergites VI and VII. Pupal duration is approximately 96 hours long in this species.

The arrow indicates the cell-dense intersegmental invagination which is the defensive gland reservoir.

The arrow indicates the cell-dense intersegmental invagination which is the defensive gland reservoir.

And another view.

And another view.

These images were taken with the help of entomology Steve. Thin sections were taken in epoxy embedded samples, then colored in a general stain – hence the blue. Thanks Steve!

Big fan of strong, attitude-pumped female vocal-centric groups, not to mentioned, I’m kinda into electro-pop right now. As I have, please totally rock out as you carefully contemplate the gland images as a representation of a key innovation – a key innovation that compartmentalized bodily glandular tissue into a collective organ, helps natural selection do it’s thing this way, at least that’s my working hypothesis. I said it first, just saying.

Taro’s live a perpetual entomological existence.

My mom sent me this mural on a school wall, somewhere in Japan.

001 (4)_blog

Yuu clearly has a shady dad that she enjoys hanging out with; Yuika likes new dresses, but unfortunately is vomiting all over this new one form too many strawberry daiquiri; Takemi has no artistic skills what so ever, but none of us expect much from him; Yuuta enjoys soccer with his leg-less brother; Mako can double-fist any cone; Mayo has diva written all over her, but a pair of legs would really help with the dancing in singing and dancing.

But wait, what is this, Taro draws a ladybug?! Whaaaat?! Parents, if you think a name has no bearing on a childs future as a poor entomologist, think again. He’ll eventually turn to smaller insects people care even less about, don’t worry there folks.

On another note, I’ve updated my website to include a local (near Lawrence, KS) Trichopsenius sp. A beetle that lives with Reticulitermes termites. This one is post-extraction, not bad. I’m going to try this on a more mushy-mushy (no pun intended, for those that get it) physogastric Xenistusa and see how I fare.

I’m also super into ~90’s feminist punk/electro pop, spawns of the Riot Grrrl movement. Here’s Le Tigre, a Bikini Kill offshoot.