Sunday, July 27, 2008

Posting comments to this blog

I require author's approval to post comments to this blog so I can control all of the spam crap that otherwise gets posted. This way if you want to post a comment, it comes to me as an email first. So go ahead and post, GMF, I'll get your message.

Not exactly something to be proud of...

Created by OnePlusYou - Free Dating Site

I scored pretty well on The Booze Test, where you guess the names of different alcoholic beverages based on one or more clues. My favorite was the first clue for the "White Russian," which was simply a picture of the The Dude from "The Big Lebowski." If you've seen the movie you will know what I'm referring to...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Wordle...and figs

I just discovered a cool website called Wordle, that lets you put in any block of text and then resizes the words according to how often they are used (big= a lot, etc.). The output is a pretty cloud of words that you can modify the shape, font and color of. Above is the Discussion section of my recent paper in Brain, Behavior and Evolution. Obviously, the word "brain" is used a lot, as is the word "mushroom" (because the paper is about insect mushroom bodies).

Speaking of mushroom bodies, the owners of the thus-far largest recorded mushroom bodies have been enjoying the fig tree in the back yard of the place I am staying. Here they are swarming all over the fruit, and I managed to catch one coming in for a landing (pink arrow). The picture doesn't really show how beautiful they are- about an inch long and deep metallic green. We have a similar species in West Virginia, but I have never seen them in such concentrations as I have here, both on the fig tree and on some other plants. I don't remember there being this many of these scarab beetles when I lived here, so I wonder if it has just been a good year for them?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Palo verde beetles

I rescued this girl from the pool yesterday morning and when I came home from work she was still hanging out under the picnic table. Thus, she became the subject of several photos. I love these beetles- they're big, they move fast, and they can definitely defend themselves (look at those mandibles)! There are similar species in other parts of the US, but they don't get nearly as big; below is a picture demonstrating just how gigantic this particular specimen was.

In other news, I rewarded myself for getting that damned grant submitted by getting a piercing at Halo. I've wanted a labret for years, but have been concerned about it being visible etc. This should be healed right around the time teaching starts, so I can replace it with a smaller, much less noticeable stud. I prefer the ring though- I think it looks totally cool!

By the way, that's my new Cougar Cub shirt- isn't it cute?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Playing with dolls

So yes I'm crazy, why do you ask? I just bought a Blythe doll on Ebay, isn't she pretty? Her name is Natasha Moore and she has four different eye colors that can be changed by pulling the string coming from the back of her head. Kind of a weird concept, but I think they look really cool and I just HAD to have one.

You can buy all kinds of clothes and shoes and wigs and other accessories on Ebay, too- looks like I found a new way to spend my money (like I needed that).

Monday, July 14, 2008

Termite emergence

Yesterday evening we got some rain, and there was an emergence of reproductive termites in front of the place where I am staying. By the time I got inside to get my camera most of them had already landed, but in the picture above you can still see a few in flight (arrows).

The winged reproductives were emerging from several little holes in the ground. You can just see the heads of some of the workers in the picture above.

Once the reproductives drop to the ground, they break off their wings and begin to mate and look for a place to start a new colony. In this picture you can see a lot of discarded wings (arrowheads) and two termites chasing each other (arrows)- they were moving pretty fast so they're a bit blurry.

Later on I went back by the pool, and apparently a lot of the termites liked it out there. There was a pile of discarded wings, and many of the poor little guys and gals had fallen into the pool.

Finally, here's a picture of those bug nymphs on the pomegranate. They're growing pretty fast; I first saw them just at the beginning of last week.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The bugs of Tucson

Well, I meant to post more but I've been busy, both workwise (grants, papers, etc.) and not (chasing and apparently frightening the bejeezus out of nice young men). I've been taking a lot of pictures of the wonderful six-legged fauna around the place where I'm staying, one of which is the lovely, somewhat phallic sphinx moth caterpillar pictured above. I've never seen one quite that color before- it looked like a dead severed finger crawling on the ground.

The pomegranate tree attracts some big old bugs, seen above. They have since laid their eggs on the fruits, which are swarming with little nymphs (no pictures of those yet).

The fig beetles and their giant mushroom bodies are out, hunting for food among the fruit trees. I pulled this one out of the pool and took pictures as it dried off and regained it's bearings.

Finally, the koi pond attracts all kinds of cool dragonflies.

That's all the bug pics for now. Below is a t-shirt I made in Café Press to celebrate my apparent new status as a predatory old lady who strikes fear in the hearts of sweet young men. Cute, huh?