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.


An image showing a concentration of D1 gland cell ducts.

Myrmedonota nr. defensive 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.


Pussy Riot

These are larval Baeocera scaphidiines. The adults are super un-rove-beetle-like.

Baeocera larvae weave in and out the hymenial surface of polypore fungi.

Baeocera larvae weave in and out the hymenial surface of polypore fungi.

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.

Soil washing and Mayetia

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.

Me, digging for, well… soil, out in Kansas prairie. Photo courtesy of Zack.

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).

Wash'n some soil.

Washing some soil.

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.

A bundle of organic stuff. The samples can be stored like this for about a week. So you can transport them back from the field if you're far from home.

A bundle of organic stuff. The samples can be stored like this for about a week, so you can transport them back from the field if you’re far from home.

Step 4. Berlese time. It only took about a day, the stuff wasn’t very dense.


Berlese! A little makeshift spot for this particular project.

Step 5. Sort.

Mayetia peasei are easily packed into a 1 cm square.

Mayetia peasei are easily packed into a 1 cm square.

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.