Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sign of a sick mind?

New decades call for a clean desktop, at least at first. I've been tidying mine, and found all these in the "To Blog" file.

Updates on previous posts:

* Amphipod maternity ward.
The three pairs of amphipods eventually separated into singles. I watched as tiny (barely visible) babies started swimming about. I couldn't tell if they were from the adults present, or some that had been there all along, but too small to see. Some amphipod mothers brood their eggs or young between their thoracic legs; I've been trying to see if these were brooders. They move too fast, and have too many legs, so I'm still not sure.

I don't think this one is brooding. But it's pretty in that polka-dotted outfit.

The whole kit and kaboodle is back in the aquarium.

* The damaged flatworm.
(Recap: this flatworm had been badly torn, right behind the head and across the mouth. It re-organized its body plan to put the head at the whole end, but the old head end still seemed to have a mind of its own.)

The worm rested on my desk for a few days. I provided it with a stone for shade, and a few barnacles to tempt it to eat. One morning it had swarmed over one of them. Over a couple of days, it eased its way inside, and then just sat there, digesting.

Flatworm inside now-empty barnacle shell. The eyes are visible as dots on the left. The "tongue" is the torn end.

When it finally emerged, it went exploring. It was now a good flatworm shape, but still carried the damaged end upright, like a flag; this flag got caught in a crack of a shell. The worm stretched and stretched and stretc......hed, but couldn't get free. I decided to help. I had read that a flatworm may pull itself in two as a way of reproduction. So I pinched the stretched portion, now barely a thread, and it separated. The head went its merry way.

The torn bit sat there, quivering. It was very small, barely a couple or three millimetres across, and I was sure it would die. It didn't. It, like the whole worm, rested for a few days in one spot, but responding by twisting and stretching whenever I tickled it with my soft brush.

Yesterday morning, when I checked, it was no longer in its old place, but had found shelter in a typical flatworm place, on the bottom side of the stone. Which means that it's alive, can distinguish light (has working eyespots again), and can achieve purposeful movement. Wow!

New stuff.

* Reported to BugGuide:

Parasitic wasp, male.

On New Year's Day, a tiny yellow wasp turned up on my fridge door. In the middle of the winter? I photographed it and measured it (3 mm.), looked up hundreds of wasps, couldn't decide on any, and sent it off to BugGuide. So far, they have identified it as one of the parasitic Apocrita, which is not a valid group, just kept for convenience. Still, it's a start.

Another couple arrived at my desk a couple of days ago, a male and a female. Unfortunately, the male died shortly after capture, though I had handled it gently. She is in a pill bottle, waiting for a new male.

The female of the species. The long projection at the tail end is the ovopositor, which she uses to deposit her eggs in her victim.

If these are parasitic, what and where are their victims? The only live things I find around are the Indian Meal moths that hatch out of the bird seed. Could they have been in the pupated caterpillars that I threw to the juncos? Some of them were black, others cream. Maybe the black ones were parasitized. Next time, I'll look more carefully. When I find a male, I think I'll also donate a live caterpillar to the cause, see what happens.

Wing pattern on wasp. Cute little "stigmata".

* Fish art.

Painting by Jaya, 7. Available light; colours should be more alive. I like the seaweed streamers.

The artist, at work on a new idea.

* Just because these made me happy:

Blue mist over Burns Bog.

Almost summer: reflection in Cougar Creek pond, last week.

Hellebore. First week in January, and the flowers are budding out!

And the clean desktop makes me happy, too.


  1. The green on the top pic is so lovely and fragile. It's almost impossible to one up nature!

  2. Jaya's fish painting shows considerable talent and attention to detail. Very nice work for a 7 year old.

  3. Hi, I just found a wasp just like the one in your picture on my front door (I'm in the PNW) Couldn't catch a picture, but I was wondering if you know what kind of wasp it is. Thx

  4. Hi, Sven,

    BugGuide identified the wasp as a Chalcid wasp, Megastigmus. Click on the name to see it there.


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