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Pubs I’ve read this month.
Noirot & Quennedey. 1974. Fine structure of insect epidermal glands. Ann. Rev. Entomol.
Happ & Happ. 1973. Fine structure of the pygidial glands of Bledius mandibularis (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae). Tissue & Cell 5(2): 215-231.
Schierling & Dettner. 2013. The pygidial defense gland system of the Steninae (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae): morphology, ultrastructure and evolution. Arthropod Structure & Development 42: 197-208.
Quennedey. 1998. Chapt. 8. Insect epidermal gland cells: ultrastructure and morphogenesis. Pp. 177-207. In: Microscopic Anatomy of Invertebrates, Vol. 11A.
Noirot & Quennedey. 1991. Glands, gland cells, glandular units: some comments on terminology and classification. Annls Soc. ent. Fr. 27(2): 123-128.
Araujo & Pasteels. 1985. Ultrastructure de la glande defensive de Drusilla canaliculata (Fab.) (Coleoptera, Staphylinidae). Archive de Biologie 96: 81-99.
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These are larval Baeocera scaphidiines. The adults are super un-rove-beetle-like.
Bass are spawning, so I went to check out the fishing over at WCP for 2 hours. The fish were small but active. Even picked up a bluegill with a larger top-water minnow. 3 l.m.bass, max of 12 inches, and 1 blue-G.
Today’s lures were:
Rebel Pop-R, an unstoppable top-water lure. The fact that you can see the bass attacking from below, visually, is amazing.
Rapala Original Floating, something someone picked up for me at a garage sale. The Original is a pricey lure and I was hoping to reek the benefits of tradition. In fact, picked up most of the fish off this baby today. Was using a darker natural color on a cloudy day, I’ve gotta get some brighter colors.
Our collection manager Zack and I have been talking about soil washing in Kansas for some time now. Soil washing, for those of you who don’t know, is a technique used to collect insects (in my case) that are subterranean.
In staphylinids, two lineages, Leptotyphlinae and Mayetiini (Pselaphinae) are exceptional in having taken this lifestyle to its extreme and have appreciably diversified in doing so. The two are surprisingly convergent in morphology, although they occupy disparate regions of the rove beetle tree of life.
Zack had heard a rumor that a leptotyphline, one of these subterranean staphylinids, had been collected from a root-ball in a Kansas prairie. Rumor passes down to me, and this rumor was what fueled our motivation to put into action, what is arguably the most tedious method of collecting.
Step 1. You dig. I don’t know, pick a spot, any spot. We chose a variety.
Step 2. For this step, you literally wash the soil. I dumped the soil etc. into trash bin and added water with a hose. After a reasonable amount of water had covered the soil underneath, I sloshed the soil around and skimmed off anything that floated to the surface (this is all organic material, including bugs).
Step 3. I then wrapped any organic material I skimmed from the surface of the water into a bundle, using cheesecloth. I then wrung out this organic bundle of any excess water, wrapped it again, this time in paper towels to further dehydrate, and stored them in labeled baggies until Berlese time.
Step 4. Berlese time. It only took about a day, the stuff wasn’t very dense.
Step 5. Sort.
To some extent, I think I speak for both Zack and I when I say we had low expectations. This added to our surprise when we found close to 20 individuals of a teeny-teeny staphylinid. We go back and forth for some time about whether it was a leptotyphline or Mayetia, finally settling on the later – I mean they’re so damn convergent-looking!
A little more digging around lead to a species identification, Mayetia pearsei. This species is presumably parthenogenic, argued from the fact that not a single male has been discovered, despite some serious effort. Other species in the genus are known to demonstrate extremely female-biased sex ratios.
Mayetia populations aren’t very dense and individuals are poor dispersers. If chances of meeting a mate are unlikely, this can fuel the establishment of parthenogenesis in a population. In some species where males are present in low frequency, they may play a dwindling role as a population marches on towards purely parthenogenic reproduction. Also possible, males are retained for periodic out-crossing, which theoretically can help avoid pitfalls like Muller’s ratchet and environmental instability. Whatever the case, it seems clear to me that this is an interesting system that deserves more attention; several obvious questions and solutions immediately pop in mind.
I heard some pleasing news today and it made my day.
This photo’s from Costa Rica. I think it’s a Microdon sp., checking out the nest entrance. Honestly, I know they’re myrmecophilous so I should be able to identify the genus from other hover flies, but the characters that define them are found in the wing venation, so kinda hard to check out in the wild.
Thanks to a comment by Martin, this fly was identified as a species of Lepidomyia. Martin also informed me that the larvae are unknown, but those of a related genus develops in decaying wood. Makes sense, this individual was scouting a tree hole opening, which was coincidentally occupied by an ant colony.
Whatever, gestalt is a taxonomist’s best friend anyways.
Gestalt betrayed me…
Camponotus were preparing for colonial proliferation.
Some case-bearing leaf beetles can be found with ants, where they feed on nest refuse. I’ve previously collected adults and larvae from Arizona, Arkansas and Oregon. The ones from Arizona and Oregon were in the genus Saxinis.
Poster child myrmecophile, Myrmecophilus, hey it’s right in the name!
The current revision that treats North American taxa, in my opinion, is not that reliable. I don’t think hind leg spine number is a stable enough character to be used in identification. I have seen taxa with unequal numbers between their hind legs. I think molecular data will give us an entirely new perspective, just as the research in Japan has. I suspect this is what people call Myrmecophilus pergandei.
I checked out the weather Friday evening and Saturday was forecast to be excellent weather, in the high 70s. Couldn’t resist, I woke up at 5 AM on Saturday and headed 2 hours south of Lawrence to a favorite inquiline spot.
I’ve introduced some collecting from here previously.
It was a little early still in the season, but the social insects were out and so were their guests. This time I brought home the Philotermes species that occurs here along with its hosts and observed its behavior. Conclusion, a damn lot of grooming.