Expiscor (2 September 2013)

Welcome to September (and Labour day, today)! September is favourite month here in the Montreal area – the weather remains fantastic, the maple trees start to change colour, and migrating birds begin moving through.  And best of all, the Academic term starts – for me, lectures begin tomorrow.  For now, however, let’s see what discoveries were uncovered over the past week…

  • An incredible spider photo to share with you, from Sean McCann. Here’s a pair of mating Hyptiotes gertschi (Family Uloboridae) (reproduced here, with permission)

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  • OK, let’s spread around the love. Ants are also beautiful (look, a moustache!), as Alex Wild shows us here:
Cephalotes atratus (photo (c) A. Wild) - THANKS Alex, for allowing me to post your photos on Expiscor!

Cephalotes atratus (photo (c) A. Wild) – THANKS Alex, for allowing me to post your photos on Expiscor!

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  • Close to home, McGill’s Tomato Tornado! FUN!

Expiscor (26 August 2013)

After various trips and adventures, regular editions of Expiscor are back… Here are some discoveries from the past week! Hope you enjoy…

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  • Here’s a shot of doing Entomology on the tundra. Entomology Yoga, anyone?
#EntoYoga (photo by J. Wagner)

#EntoYoga (photo by J. Wagner)

  • Tweet of the week goes to Joshua Drew. Darn good advice!

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  • Snail trails. What a neat (and important) story. Here’s the video (check out at 3:08):

Expiscor (19 August 2013) – The Photography Edition (Part 2)

Last week was Part 1 of the Photography editions of Expiscor (this is because I was been doing remote field work and have thus been unable to keep up on science links, and now I’m on vacation!).  Here’s Part 2 – and again, I thank the Photographers for letting me post their work here, and for directing me to their favourite nature image.

First up, a lovely shot from Morgan Jackson, a Micropezidae fly (genus Raineria)

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An Expiscor favourite Adrian Thysse submitted this photo, with the following comment: My ‘favourites’ change every week, but here is a shot that was one of themost popular images at the Bug Jamboree at the Ellis Bird Farm last Saturday. It is a meadowhawk, Sympetrum sp. , taken with very shallow depth of field to smooth-out the background and to accentuate those magnificent eyes.

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Next, another awesome fly, from Rachel Graham:

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Warren Sarle submitting this photo – lovely little jumping spiders!


The next photo comes with a story, here’s what Matt Bertone writes about this image:

I was walking on a trail near our local lake (Raleigh, NC, USA), when I came upon a harvestman. I didn’t think much of it until I saw this tiny ceratopogonid sucking hemolymph out of its leg. I had been wanting to find this phenomenon, so I took a couple photos (others show the whole scene) and then was on my way to find new subjects. After posting on facebook and having Chris Borkent comment on it, I sent the photo to Art Borkent, a world expert on punkies. He was amazed at what I had found – Opiliones as a host was only recorded once ever, and only in Brazil. I was kicking myself for not getting the specimen, but at least the shot turned out well!

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Ok, time to move away from the “All Arthropod” show… here’s an image of my own and here’s the story: Last week I was in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, doing field work. While doing a “tundra walk” one afternoon, we stumbled across a tiny patch of Asters, tucked in among some rocks. It was a beautiful moment because it was very late season, and we observed very few flowers. However, these stunning Asters took my breath away. Delicate, beautiful, fragile.

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Expiscor (12 August 2013) – The Photography Edition (Part 1)

I am currently in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, enjoying some Arctic entomology. However, this has meant I’ve been unable to keep up on great science stories, and have therefore opted to bring photographs to this week (and next week’s) Expiscor.

I asked a few of my favourite photographers if there were willing to contribute to this edition of Expiscor by providing me with their favourite nature photograph – i.e., the image that THEY took, that is their favourite.  Here are some of the images, and I deeply thank the photographers for agreeing to contribute and giving me permission to post their work, here!

First up, the incredible Thomas Shahan, here’s a jumping spider (Phidippus putnami) shot that he adores:

Phidippus from Thomas Shahan

Next up is a lovely shot from Sean McCann – here’s the story behind this image, and why it holds a special place for him:

In my PhD research I spent four three-month field seasons at the Nouragues Station in French Guiana studying the Red-throated Caracara. The majority of the time, I was working from the ground in the thick rainforest, watching the birds overhead. This does not make for good photo opportunities, as the birds are silhouetted against a bright sky. When we did things such as bird capture or audio playback, the birds would come down to near ground level, but under the canopy the forest is so dark it is really tough to get good shots. Needless to say, for a scientist/photographer studying his favourite birds, this was very frustrating!

Finally, in my 4th field season, toward the end of our stay, I took the opportunity to walk down to the Pararé camp, where there are some towers built that reach above the canopy. I brought my playback device so I could try to lure caracaras to the trees near the tower. Luckily, it worked extremely well, and I was able to capture some good well-lit shots of my study organism for the first time. The tower allowed me to enter the real habitat of the caracaras, the high treetops with the equipment to pull off some good shots. I think this was one of the most exciting days of my research, and having this photo to remember it by is wonderful.

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From Alex Wild... he directed me to his set of favourites, so I picked this amazing shot of honey pot ants. Wow!

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To finish off this week’s Photography edition, here’s a milk snake from Nash Turley:

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Expiscor (5 August 2013)

Welcome to August! I’m heading off for Arctic field work today, but will try to post updates and I will try to keep Expiscor posts coming, despite the remoteness of where I will be…. I’ll see how I manage…

Here are some discoveries from the past week, for your reading pleasure!

  • A spidery mysteryAdrian Thysse posted this on Facebook – what is attached or stuck to the spider’s legs?
A mystery....what is the arrow pointing to?

A mystery….what is the arrow pointing to?

  • Scorpionflies – too cool for words – good thing we have amazing photographers out there!
  • I like bees. My colleague and friend Elena Bennett likes bees, and she has some hives – here’s a photo to show just HOW MUCH she loves bees!


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A Devonian Platter

A Devonian Platter

Expiscor (29 July 2013)

From the world of arachnology, entomology and beyond… Expiscor is here for you!  Here are some things I stumbled across this week:

  • Photo time! Another stunning shot from Adrian Thysse – this one of a crab spiders as prey. You can follow his blog here (and thanks to Adrian for allowing me to reproduce the shot, here)
Dipigon sayi with Xysticus prey

Dipigon sayi with Xysticus prey

  • Spider poop.  Spider Joe posted an amazing photo of the stuff (see below); the solids are undigested prey material and the liquid is a slurry of guanine crystals. Wow. (um, and as Joe stated on twitter, Oreo cookie, anyone?)

Spider poop

  • Bird poop. I had some land on me earlier this week. Apparently that should only happen once every 195 years. (I take that as good luck). Thanks Lab & Field for the link!
  • Tweet of the week goes to my (young) colleague Dr. Dez:

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  • And finally, a Happy Birthday (today!) to my big sister. She’s awesome (and she writes books!)
  • For nature geeks everywhere… True facts about owls. I love this:

Expiscor (22 July 2013)

Expiscor is back! Here are some discoveries from the past week. I hope you enjoy!

  • Over on unpopular science, a nice write-up on peacock spiders. Yeah, these little critters are just awesome.
  • I know you are ready for it… a spider photo! This one, an amazing photo of a trapdoor spider by Matt Bertone (thanks Matt, for permission to post here!)

trapdoor spider

  • And the tweet of the week goes to Lab & Field – commentary on being a post-doc and multitasking!

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  • In honour of the completion of this year’s tour de France, here are some amusing quotes from one of the more colourful riders, Jens Voigt. e.g., Having things organized is for small-minded people. Genius controls chaos
  • And to finish, I agree with Bug Girl: this is one of the nerdiest Entomology videos out there. Wow.

Expiscor (15 July 2013) – The Thank-You Edition

I’m currently on holiday, and was unable to put together a typical post of links of discoveries for Expiscor. I therefore thought it would be a nice change of pace to provide a short list of people who I rely on heavily for links and images that are published on Expiscor. This post is, therefore, a “thank you” of sorts – Expiscor would just not be possible without constantly seeing terrific content, and this depends on people promoting interesting stories on Twitter or Facebook, or through other means. Creating lists is far from a solitary activity – quite the opposite. It’s about a community, and the people below are one part of that community.

Here’s a list of great people who consistently provide terrific content (in no particular order):

  • Dr. Dez: an entomologist with broad interests, from photography, to odd stories, and a deep love of old literature.
  • Bug Girl: it would be hard to have a set of links about entomology without mentioning Bug Girl – she provides a great dose of entomology, often with sense of humour, wit and sarcasm. Check out her blog here.
  • Alex Wild: most people who follow Expiscor probably already follow Alex. Entomologist and photographer!
  • Morgan Jackson is one of my key sources for entomology news in Canada. A Dipterist (that’s OK with me!), a great guy, generous, thoughtful, and a man with a great sense of humour. (he has, by the way, helped me a great deal as I started my venture into the world of social media!)
  • Ainsley Seago: an American entomologist, currently in Australia. In addition to entomological content, Ainsley is a source of “art with a twist”, Thripsters, anyone?
  • More from Australia, Cameron Webb provides links about biting flies, medical and veterinary entomology, and so much more.
  • From South America, Daniel Llavaneras is a source for stunning photos and commentary about biodiversity in the tropics.
  • Over in Europe, Matthew Cobb, from Academia to Entomology, contributor to “Why Evolution is True” and historian.
  • Still in the UK, Simon Leather, amazing scientist, and source of great blogs and terrific papers with entomological content.
  • Flying Trilobite provides wonderful content, and as a science illustrator, someone I admire.
  • For photography, I also enjoy posts and images from Sean McCann and Adrian Thysse – brilliant work, and they are always happy to have their work posted on Expiscor.
  • For insights into the grad student mind, Barbara Frei, Carly Ziter, and Nash Turley are must-follow. They find and promote terrific comment, and themselves are thoughtful, articulate and, well, just a great source of inspiration.
  • Finally, you all need to follow Ed Yong. That is all.

….OK, I have missed some amazing people, and for that I apologize… when I’m on vacation again, I’ll do a “part 2”.

From the docks of a cottage, enjoy your week!


Expiscor (8 July 2013)

It’s full on summer in my part of the world! Great to have heat, humidity and fireflies giving a nice show. Here’s Expiscor for this week… some discoveries fished out from the past week, from spiders and insects, to art and flying bikes. Hope you enjoy!

  • Just look at this lovely spider! (photo by Chthoniid, reproduced here, with permission)

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  • So you think mosquitoes are bad in your backyard…?? Check out this photo from the Arctic (my experience agrees with this, by the way!)
Mosquitoes in the Arctic (photo by J. Krause, promoted by Amanda Koltz)

Mosquitoes in the Arctic (photo by J. Krause, tweeted by Amanda Koltz, reproduced here with permission)

  • Gosh it was a fun week on twitter, including a hilarious conversation about Odd Science Equipment – weird things that scientists use to get the job done. Here’s the storify of the hashtag, and there are a couple of other related posts over at Dynamic Ecology (here, and here)
  • And the tweet of the week goes to…. Avi Goldberg.  I love coffee, too.

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  • Another home run for Malcolm Campbell.  Here’s a quote from his latest postAs children, we make use of our human home bases – like mobile harbours – from which we venture out to investigate new surroundings or circumstances. They are also the safe harbours to which we return for comfort, support and reinforcement when we feel unsure, challenged, or threatened by what we have found
  • In honour of the Tour de France (my favourite sporting event to watch, despite the past problems), a game changer: a flying bicycle (thanks Matthew Cobb for that one!)
  • Some promotion for my PhD student Dorothy Maguire – here’s a neat video from Ecosystem Services Montreal, about her work on forest fragments, herbivory and insects. And yes, tree-climbing too!

Expiscor (1 July 2013)

It’s Canada Day! For that reason, and since I’ve been doing a bit of field work, this week’s Expiscor is perhaps a bit shorter than usual. However… better some fun discoveries than none at all!

Here are a few things that caught my attention this past week:

  • Right, I should give you a jumping spider photo now. Why? Just because they are so darn cute:
Euophrys monadnock waving (goodbye) from a collection jar (photo by Y. Wang)

Euophrys monadnock waving (goodbye) from a collection jar (photo by Y. Wang)

  • More about the Lepidoptera: here’s a neat story of a girl who found a giant moth in her backyard– something rare for Michigan… and Facebook helped her with an identification.
  • Want to know where all the mosquitoes are? There’s an App for that (M-Tracker) (thanks to Mozziebites for that link!)
  • Tweet of the week… I know you want it… this one is courtesy of Rachel Graham (by the way, for non-Entomologists, a Malaise trap is used to catch insects, whereas a tent usually catches humans)

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  • Connections: How do you relate the London Tube to the Human Body?  Here’s how.
  • Thrifty photos – you can do some great things with cameras on smartphones.
  • WATCH OUT! A GIANT SPIDER! Great video, sure caused me to chuckle: