Flora and fauna of the Athens County area, and occasionally habitats outside Ohio. Subject matter will consist of both interpretive material and taxonomic issues in plant and animal identification.

Friday, September 10, 2010

It's night in Hocking County

Alex, a student of mine, invited me up for an evening of sheet & light insect collecting. Turns out it was a bit chilly for much to show up. We did walk the property, and it gave me a chance for my first attempt at night photography. It's a bit of a challenge since you can't tell what will be in focus. It was hit and miss.

With the pond as a backdrop, this made for a nice photo. As soon as I gather enough species, I'll do a whole post on Goldenrods.

Clusters of red footballs tells me it's Cleveland Browns season. Oh ya, and that Flowering Dogwood is ripening.

Black golf balls sitting on a red tee. Must be Sassafras. These are some of my favorite looking fruit. You don't always see them because Sassafras has separate male and female trees, plus they don't produce them every year. Check them out while you can.

Settled in for the night, and not interested in flying in the cold, was this Thread-waisted wasp. Can't be sure of the species, but it looks like Isodontia mexicana.

Dancing in the moonlight. Well I wasn't really, but as fall sets in Virginia Creeper begins to turn a brilliant scarlet red.

Like peas and carrots again. Wild Senna is often planted in prairie gardens. The large clusters of yellow flowers are utilized by butterflies, and when the pea pods turn brown, birds will feed on them come winter.

Meanwhile, back at the sheet. This guy was begging to be photographed, and with such a neat spotted pattern, I couldn't resist. This is The Beggar, Eubaphe mendica, an inchworm moth.

I wonder how many people reared back in their seat when this popped up. Don't worry, it's harmless. Harvestmen can not, and will not bite humans. I always thought they were venomous to their prey, turns out they have no venom glands what so ever.

Harvestmen are different from spiders in having their body regions fused. The black dot on its head contains two eyes, spiders have many more eyes.

Their vison is poor, and they use those very long second pair of legs as antennae. I believe this species is Hadrobunus maculosus. Many species are carnivores, but as a group they are omnivorous. Some eating plants, fungi, or scavenging on decomposing matter. Harvestmen can detach their legs when attacked. The twitching continues in a leg, distracting the predator as it escapes. I'm still trying to find out if they re-grow their legs upon molting.

Photographing this 1/4 inch guy was not easy. This is a Caenidae Mayfly, better know as Square-gilled Mayflies. Mayflies have large front wings and very small back wings. Because the abdomen and thorax are different colors, this is a male.

Permission to land please. Looking like the outline of a jet plane, mayfly nymphs have 3 tails or caudal cerci. Upon hatching many mayflies only have two tails. This family retains all three as adults. Because the tails are so long, this also indicates a male.

Reach out and touch somebodies hand. The male front legs are designed to do just that, grab a female. If you look closely, you'll see what appear to be two eyes side by side. The males eyes are split in half, the smaller portion stalked, and for what else, finding a female amongst a swarm. These guys only have 24 hours to mate, so any advantage they can muster the better.

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