Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Best of Bycids

          Yesterday, Sam and I had the opportunity to pay Bill Tyson a visit. Sam had a couple boxes of Click beetles he had identified for him, but I went on the trip not only because Sam, my Grandpa and I were going to Yosemite National Park after, but because I enjoy meeting other entomologists and had received word of his impressive collection of Longhorn beetles (Cerambycidae) he has collected and/or acquired from around the world.

Bill standing next to his collection of Longhorn beetles.

Aside from being a truly delightful person and allowing me to take a peak at some of his bugs, he granted me permission to share (brag about) this experience with you. With the first drawer he pulled out I gasped; I had seen many impressive Bycids online, in books and a good amount in other collections, but there was something about seeing the actual specimens in an experts collection that was breath taking. I'm sure you other bug enthusiasts can relate. I was about to pull out my camera before I realized that there were dozens of other drawers with specimens that were photo-worthy. I had to prioritize my time and only take pictures of the easy targets. Here are only a few of the best Bycids: 
 

 A drawer of flightless Longhorns in the tribe Dorcadionini resemble
Darkling beetles that are found in the hills of Europe and neighboring lands.
 
 
Psalidognathus friendi Gray, 1831
Male and Female.
 
 
Cheloderus childreni Gray in Griffith, 1832
This Longhorn, almost resembling a Jewel beetle, is now treated
 as a member of the family Oxypeltidae rather than Cerambycidae.
 
 
Macrodontia cervicornis (Linnaeus, 1758)
This is one of the largest beetles by length. It's mandibles
and fire-like elytra give it quite the impressive appearance!
 
 
Titanus giganteus (Linnaeus, 1771)
By legnth, this is the largest species of Longhorns without the mandibles. I
made the mistake of comparing them to my giant hand in the photograph; Which
is 8.5 inches from where my wrist ends to the tip of my middle finger. This
would make the specimen in the center almost 6 inches long!! The very unit tray it
wrests in is 1/4 the size of a Cornell drawer. To the right you can see the species
Derobrachus hoverei. This is one of North America's largest Longhorns and
it is outright dwarfed by the Central American Titanus giganteus.
 

I only wish I could have spent more time photographing some of the smaller gems! I saw a pair of a species that were clearly mimicking Tiger beetles of the tribe Collyridini, many Lepturinae (my favorite subfamily) and so so sooo many others. Bill and his life's work have given me a greater appreciation for this much more diverse than I had previously thought family. I expect that there will be many more Longhorn posts in the future!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

We gots a live one

          On one of my routine walks around my neighborhood last week, I came across a common honey bee (Apis mellifera) on the side walk. I took the opportunity to get some practice in photographing a moving target so I wouldn't be totally inexperienced by the time the real gems start buzzing in spring. It wasn't facing the way I would have liked it to, so I grabbed a twig to tweak it around for a pose with good lighting.



To my surprise, the bee took off the second after the first shot. In all of my memory, any bee I saw on the sidewalk I assumed was dead or almost so. I'm glad the bee was so patient with my poking... Anyway, the shot couldn't have been any more satisfying to my humble expectations (besides the shadow of the camera...). This gives me great excitement towards my future as a macro photographer.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Carabidae Unique to the Pacific Northwest: 1) Cychrini


The Pacific Northwest from space
         If you've spent time studying Ground beetles in the Americas, you're likely to know about how unique the Ground beetle fauna is along the Pacific northwest; states such as Alaska, western Washington and Oregon, and most of California (especially the northern part), northern Idaho, and of course, BC. During my last 18 months of more directly studying these fascinating insects, I have significantly increased the representation of Pacific northwest Carabidae in my private collection. With a camera at my finger tips the last few weeks in Utah, I had been growing more and more fond of the idea to do a post that briefly reviews some of the many Ground dwellers unique to the Pacific northwest and surrounding areas sharing a similar ecosystem.




 



Scaphinotus (Brennus) cristatus - Scaphinotus cristatus
Scaphinotus (Brennus) cristatus (Harris, 1839)
The sub genus Brennus of the Snail-eating Scaphinotus have always been fun to
encounter in California. I have collected several of the 15 or so species therein.
The specimen above is Scaphinotus cristatus. I collected a series of this species
(along with a few other species in the same sub genus) at night in a beach side
forest back in June in San Luis Obispo County, California. The sub genus ranges
from Baja California north to Alaska where one species, S. B. marginatus ranges
east to Montana; however, most species are restricted to California.

Cychrus tuberculatus Harris, 1839
Throughout all America, the genus Cychrus, or Rare Snail-eaters,
only occurs in the northwestern mixed forests. Two species are
included; C. tuberculatus (restricted to the coastal states and BC.)
and C. hemphillii Horn 1878 (similar range to C. tuberculatus
with one subspecies in se. Idaho and nw. Utah).

Scaphinotus angusticollis (Mannerheim, 1824)
One other sub genus that only occurs in the Northwest is Stenocantarus.
 The species above, S. angusticollis, is found throughout the northwest while
the other two species have a CA and OR range. the diversity in S. angusticollis
can easily trick you into thinking some individuals are different species.

Of course, there are other species of Snail-eaters in the Pacific northwest, plenty; none that I will go over because of the time investment required. I plan to review some of the higher taxa of the Pacific northwest Carabidae in future posts like such, though.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Tegenaria domestica

Here's a spider you may have encountered around the household:


Wolf Spider?


This species of funnel weaver ranges across the U.S. and most of North America. I found this individual on the hallway wall in my house (presumably, escaping the cold.) After I submitted it to Bugguide, I received the quick ID for the beast. The genus Tegenaria (téh-juh-NARR-ee-uh) has several species in North America and is (for the most part) common.