Bug Skin

This is the surface of a type of insect called a metallic beetle from the family buprestidae. These are spectacular insects that have shiny, vibrant exoskeletons. The interesting thing about these beetles is that under a microscope, as this is here, they show no color at all—the color we perceive comes from an interference pattern much in the same way oil on water appears colorful. The color in these images is a product of a microscopy technique called Differential Interference Contrast or DIC. The operator can create any combinations of colors by simply adjusting settings. You can see how the beetle actually appears… Continue reading

Protect Sea Turtles

Sea turtles have been nesting in Florida for a very long time, well before humans used these beaches. Nesting sites are marked out to reduce the impacts on these endangered animals from those seeking out the sun and water. Unfortunately, our impact is not limited to these sandy shores. Fishing and pollution are taking a huge toll. Click on the image for a larger view.

Flycatcher

Geckos are very common in Florida. They scatter under your feet as you walk down suburban sidewalks. You always have a fear of stepping on one, but they seem to navigate your footfall with ease. They climb our window screens looking for prey, mostly mosquitoes. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Wasp

I am not sure the type of wasp, but we found the remains just on the inside of our window. It is missing two of its wings, but apart from that, it is it good shape. At first appearance, it seem rather plain, but under closer inspection, the markings and structure are beautiful. As with most insects, this wasp also has three primitive eyes between its larger primary compound eyes. Click on the image for a larger view.

An Armadillo Tail

Nine-banded armadillos, Dasypus novemcinctus, get their name from the joints in their leathery skin. Originally from the southwest of North America, armadillos migrated to Florida where they are now considered naturalized. While their eyesight is limited, they have a keen sense of smell and use their snout to root out worms and insects. They live in complex borrows. Females lay a single egg that divides to produce four identical offspring all of the same sex, either four males or four females. To cross small bodies of water, they submerge themselves and walk along the bottom. For wide bodies, they inflate their stomachs for buoyancy and swim across. They will jump in the air if startled, which leads to many traffic fatalities. Click on the image for a larger view.

Florida’s Sandhill Cranes

For most of their species, Sandhill Cranes are migratory, heading north in the summer and returning in the winter. Central Florida has a population of non-migratory cranes. These large birds mate for life and can live for over thirty years. They can also become used to humans, although their confidence should not be confused with being harmless or domesticated: they are a wild animal and will protect themselves if felt threatened. Click on the image for a larger view.

New Neighbors

I went out to our field last night to see the sunset. To my surprise, two beautiful horses trotted up to me, apparently looking for something to eat. They soon lost interest when they realized I had no food. Click on the image for a larger view.