SCIENCE FRIDAY:  “Talking” Like a Firefly

by Ariel Zych

If you’re lucky enough to live where fireflies flash at night, then you have surely seen their magical illuminations on warm summer evenings. But did you know that by observing fireflies while they are flashing, you can learn to communicate with them? If you haven’t already, watch the Science Friday Video “In a Flash: Firefly Communication” for a little background on how fireflies use light to communicate.

By watching and comparing fireflies all across the country, scientists have been able to map out the unique flash patterns of male and female fireflies of different species. Dr. John E. Lloyd, an entomologist at the University of Florida, featured in the video above, was one of the first to do this extensively for North American species of firefly in the genus Photinus.
Using just a penlight and a cheat sheet of firefly signals of firefly signals based on Dr. Lloyd’s observations, you’ll be on your way towards speaking in a genuine firefly dialect (though your accent may need extra work)…
(read more: Science Friday)
Beetle ID - Alberta, Canada:
Hello, just wondering if you might possibly be able to ID this lil bug? Found him in a creek-y area in Central Alberta. Thanks :)
Paxon:
This is a White-spotted Pine Sawyer (Monochamus scuttelatus). The larvae bore into the wood of pines and other coniferous trees. They are native to Canada and the Northern states of the U.S. It is also referred to as the “Tar Sands Beetle” in Alberta, because of its affinity for tar sands.
http://bugguide.net/node/view/7432
http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/92341.html
http://www.maine.gov/dacf/mfs/forest_health/insects/whitespotted_sawyer.htm

Beetle ID - Alberta, Canada:

Hello, just wondering if you might possibly be able to ID this lil bug? Found him in a creek-y area in Central Alberta. Thanks :)

Paxon:

This is a White-spotted Pine Sawyer (Monochamus scuttelatus). The larvae bore into the wood of pines and other coniferous trees. They are native to Canada and the Northern states of the U.S. It is also referred to as the “Tar Sands Beetle” in Alberta, because of its affinity for tar sands.

http://bugguide.net/node/view/7432

http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/92341.html

http://www.maine.gov/dacf/mfs/forest_health/insects/whitespotted_sawyer.htm

astronomy-to-zoology
astronomy-to-zoology:

Hoplia coerulea
…is a strikingly colored species of melolonthine scarabaeid beetle which occurs throughout Southwest Europe, including France, Spain, and Switzerland. Only male Hoplia coerulea posses the iridescent sky blue coloration, females are a typical brownish color. 
Classification
Animalia-Arthropoda-Insecta-Coleoptera-Scarabeidae-Melolonthinae-Hoplia-H. coerulea
Image: Fritz Geller-Grimm and Felix Grimm

astronomy-to-zoology:

Hoplia coerulea

…is a strikingly colored species of melolonthine scarabaeid beetle which occurs throughout Southwest Europe, including France, Spain, and Switzerland. Only male Hoplia coerulea posses the iridescent sky blue coloration, females are a typical brownish color. 

Classification

Animalia-Arthropoda-Insecta-Coleoptera-Scarabeidae-Melolonthinae-Hoplia-H. coerulea

Image: Fritz Geller-Grimm and Felix Grimm

Beetle ID - Iowa, USA:
Okay, Sir. What in the world is this?! I came home after 1AM and saw this monster by my garage door. It is slick black, about an inch(?) in size or so. I reside in Western Iowa. I poked its butt with a stick to see what it would do and it slowly walked dragging its butt on the ground (or so it sounded). I’ve never seen this before! Sorry the picture isn’t too clear, it was hard to get an image of an all-black critter that was shiny. 
Paxon:
Icant be 100 positive without the animal in hand, but my best guess here is that its a Giant Black Water Beetle aka Giant Diving Scavenger Beetle (Hydrophilus triangularis).
http://bugguide.net/node/view/37654
http://wiki.bugwood.org/HPIPM:Giant_Water_Scavenger_Beetle

Beetle ID - Iowa, USA:

Okay, Sir. What in the world is this?! I came home after 1AM and saw this monster by my garage door. It is slick black, about an inch(?) in size or so. I reside in Western Iowa. I poked its butt with a stick to see what it would do and it slowly walked dragging its butt on the ground (or so it sounded). I’ve never seen this before! Sorry the picture isn’t too clear, it was hard to get an image of an all-black critter that was shiny. 

Paxon:

Icant be 100 positive without the animal in hand, but my best guess here is that its a Giant Black Water Beetle aka Giant Diving Scavenger Beetle (Hydrophilus triangularis).

http://bugguide.net/node/view/37654

http://wiki.bugwood.org/HPIPM:Giant_Water_Scavenger_Beetle

dendroica

realmonstrosities:

Galeruca tanaceti is but one of several species of Leaf Beetle who become bulbous, bulging and bloated during the mating season.

They put on so much weight that they positively balloon, and their wing cases can no longer cover their body!

It’s only the females who get in this state and it’s all for producing lots and lots of eggs.

Images: Malcolm Storey/Udo Schmidt

Crater Lake National Park - OR, USA
Whitebark pines (Pinus albicaulis) grow on the rim of Crater Lake and atop the park’s tallest peaks. They are considered a “keystone” species. Many other species depend on them for food, shelter, and survival.
Unfortunately, half the park’s whitebark pines are currently dead or dying.
The tiny mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae), is responsible for much of the damage. Scientists think, however, that the real culprit may be climate change. Mountain pine beetles have thrived in the forests of western North America for millenia, but their intolerance of cold weather generally safeguarded high-elevation trees. Lower elevation trees, such as lodgepole pines and ponderosa pines, were the beetles’ main targets.

Recently, however, the beetles have turned their attention to whitebark pines. Our warming climate is helping these insects survive the winter at higher latitudes and elevations.

Whitebark pines (Pinus albicaulis) grow on the rim of Crater Lake and atop the park’s tallest peaks. They are considered a “keystone” species. Many other species depend on them for food, shelter, and survival.

Unfortunately, half the park’s whitebark pines are currently dead or dying.

The tiny mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae), is responsible for much of the damage. Scientists think, however, that the real culprit may be climate change. Mountain pine beetles have thrived in the forests of western North America for millenia, but their intolerance of cold weather generally safeguarded high-elevation trees. Lower elevation trees, such as lodgepole pines and ponderosa pines, were the beetles’ main targets.
Recently, however, the beetles have turned their attention to whitebark pines. Our warming climate is helping these insects survive the winter at higher latitudes and elevations.
Shenandoah National Park - VA, USA
This critter is responsible for the death of over 50 million trees and is the reason for Shenandoah’s firewood ban. If you’re coming to camp, please don’t bring firewood. We are trying to slow the spread of the Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis), so we have designated EAB-free and monitored places to gather down and dead wood. Sources for wood that is sold in the park are also monitored. It won’t stop it, but it may buy us some time! Thanks for your help, campers! Our monitoring turned up a new infestation in the park. Learn more about what we’re doing and how you can help here:
Emerald Ash Borer - Shenandoah NP

This critter is responsible for the death of over 50 million trees and is the reason for Shenandoah’s firewood ban. If you’re coming to camp, please don’t bring firewood. We are trying to slow the spread of the Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis), so we have designated EAB-free and monitored places to gather down and dead wood. Sources for wood that is sold in the park are also monitored. It won’t stop it, but it may buy us some time! Thanks for your help, campers!

Our monitoring turned up a new infestation in the park. Learn more about what we’re doing and how you can help here:

Emerald Ash Borer - Shenandoah NP