Tag Archives: Australia

The Week on Sunday 16

On with the show, the first Week on Sunday for 2013:

♦ Bugs for bones at the Smithsonian Museum: “It smells like something died in here.”

♦ Ed Yong is at it again. Just when he ups and moves to National Geographic, he pops up again at Nature. And he is still on the bug path, with this article on how scientists in Africa are using flies to get a snapshot of mammal diversity.

♦ And speaking of flies, there is a very cool spot on the web that allows you to learn fly anatomy. This is really brilliant, an Adobe Flash production that is very intuitive, very clear… I have yet to find anything on the web that works so well at displaying anatomical features in insects. This should be the model on how it is done for all insect orders.

♦ Just call me Sherlock….the above interactive online guide to fly anatomy was linked to from the website Nature Spot, a UK site for recording the wildlife of Leicestershire and Rutland. The fly anatomy link shows that this is ‘CSIRO’ page, and being curious, I wanted to visit the home site. CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is  “Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.”. Now I could not find an actual link on the CSIRO pages that would take me similar pages to the Diptera spot, so I shortened the Dipteran web address to http://www.ento.csiro.au/biology/, and what do you think I found? An index page that had more links, with other efforts for online arthropod education. There are working sites for beetles, centipedes, and  ladybirds, as well as other projects apparently still in the works.

♦ Robert Krulwich is a great science blogger over at NPR. He recently did a post on one of North America’s more enigmatic bugs, the grylloblattids, and how they are particularly susceptible to a warming world.

CoEButton♦ I would be remiss to mention that the latest edition of Carnival of Evolution is out at Genome Engineering. Sadly, it seems relatively insect free, making me wonder why bug bloggers aren’t doing more evolution posts?

♦ It seems a week doesn’t go by without Alex Wild revealing something astounding. Now it’s ants on black, with reflection…

"Messor pergandei harvester ant (Palm Desert, California)"

Messor pergandei, a harvester ant (Palm Desert, California) by Alex Wild

and then, being the nice guy that he is, he shows us how to do it at Compound Eye! What a pro!

♦ And to close, another article on a simple way to adapt a flash for bug photography over at Up Close with Nature. If you want additional ideas, be sure to look at more macro rigs on Kurt’s site.



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Posted in Biodiversity, Camera, Carnival of Evolution, Diptera, Equipment, evolution, Flash, Insect, macro, photography, Video, Week on Sunday, Winter Also tagged , , , , , , , , , |

Olympus BioScapes 2012 Results

If you are here for a first time visit, you may not know why a bug blog is venturing into microscopy. This is driven partially by climate: I live in Alberta Canada, and for about six months of the year we live in  freezing conditions that most bugs decline to face. Microscopy (and focus stacking, which I also hope to explore ) is one way for me to explore small worlds in the home, removed from the icy blast. Besides which, as a blog devoted to the little things that often escape our notice, microscopy ranks high as a method for revealing minute splendour.

The winner of the Olympus BioScapes competition was Mr. Ralph Grimm from Jimboomba, Queensland, Australia, with his video of colonial rotifers showing eyespots and corona. These were photographed at magnifications from 200x – 500x, with differential interference contrast technique.



For more evidence of small wonders, go take a look at the results of the Olympus BioScapes competition, an annual event that features images produced by some of the world’s top photomicrographers. These are amazing photographs, most of which require patience and a skill set that most macro photographers would be amazed by – and as any photomacrographer would tell you, good macro photography is hard work! As usual, a good share of the featured images are of invertebrates, and a few are of insects and other arthropods. Below are some examples that stood out for me:

by Mr. James Nicholson


Mr. James Nicholson

NOAA/NOS/NCCOS Center for Coastal Environmental Health & Biomolecular Research

Fort Johnson Marine Lab, Charleston, SC, USA
Specimen: Live mushroom coral Fungia sp. Close-up of mouth during expansion.
Technique: Autofluorescence





by Dr. Christian Sardet and Mr. Sharif Mirshak


Dr. Christian Sardet and Mr. Sharif Mirshak

The Plankton Chronicles Project
Villefranche-sur-Mer, France, and Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Specimen: Claw of crustacean amphipode Phronima sp. Muscles and rows of pigment cells (melanocytes) are visible.
Technique: Darkfield





by Mr. Charles Krebs


Mr. Charles Krebs

Issaquah, Washington, USA
Specimen: Butterfly “Prola Beauty” (Panacea prola) wing scales, 200X.
Technique: Diffused reflected illumination






by Dr. Victor Chepurnov


Dr. Victor Chepurnov

Algae R&D Office

Ghent, Belgium
Specimen: Living freshwater diatom cells in a drop of water. Two species, are visible: Cyclotella meneghiniana (tablet shaped) andNitzschia palea (long).
Technique: Differential interference contrast





by Mr. Michael Crutchley


Mr. Michael Crutchley

Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK
Specimen: Daphnia (water flea), captured using image stacking.
Technique: Darkfield









by Dr. Igor Siwanowicz


Dr. Igor Siwanowicz

HHMI Janelia Farm Research Campus
Ashburn, Virginia, USA
Specimen: Oak lace bug (Corythucha arcuata), a common oak pest. Dorsal view of bug ca. 3mm long.
Technique: Confocal microscopy









Visit the Olympus BioScapes web page for more, and larger, images.

I can only dream of being able to make images of the quality that is presented in BioScapes, where subject preparation, objective (lens) quality and lighting technique require a high degree of precision and sometimes expensive technology. However, I hope to at least capture a little of the wonder of the micro world this winter.


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Posted in Alberta, Canada, Competition, Edmonton, Hemiptera, Inspiration, invertebrates, Lepidoptera, macro, Microscopy, Olympus Bioscapes, photography, Science, Season, Video, Web LInk, Winter Also tagged , , , , , , , , |

Darlington’s Peacock Jumping Spider

Another very cool jumping spider video by Jürgen Otto in Australia:

from the Youtube page:

Courtship of a spider that has become known as “Darlington’s peacock spider”. I found these specimens during a trip to the Stirling Range in September 2011. This species does not yet have a scientific name and is not yet formally described, but you can download an informal description that myself and David Hill produced here (may take a couple of minutes) http://peckhamia.com/peckhamia/PECKHAMIA_101.1.pdf

Visit Peacokspiderman‘s channel on YouTube for more.

And, hopefully, this will be a good warm-up to an upcoming video on Jumping Spider Melodies…stay tuned!

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Posted in Arachnid, Araneae, Behaviour, Salticidae, Video Also tagged , , , , , , , |

New Book – Rainforest Country (Australia)

I don’t usually praise books that I haven’t read, but I think this one has so much potential than it warrants a mention on Splendour Awaits. And I know at least one person who will want to add this to his library…

'Rainforest Country , the Book from Australia '

Rainforest Country was produced by the Australian couple, Kaisa and Stanley Breeden. Stanley is a former National Geographic videographer and Kaisa is an artist who is intent on mastering digital photography and fine art printing. Together, they specialize in macro nature photography using natural light and techniques which include both HDR and focus stacking. So while the cover features a strange furry beast with a backbone (a long-tailed pygmy possum drinking nectar from a golden penda), rest assured the book will have a lot of great macro photography featuring fungi, flowers, plants, vertebrates and our favorite, bugs!.

Check out this sample page, and read an interview with the couple at the Cairns.com . A further sample of some their photography can be seen in this gallery.

I doubt that I’ll be receiving a review copy of this coffee table book, but I’ll certainly be requesting it at our local library!

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Posted in Book Review, Documentary, macro, New Book Also tagged , , , , , |

Marvels of Evolution – Spiders at Work

Two amazing spiders are featured in this segment from Life in the Undergrowth. They both have unique variations on how they use their spider webs. The first is Hyptiotes paradoxus, a cryptic spider from Europe that makes full use of the web tension to capture its prey –  a unique adaptation for a spider that has no venom. The second is Deinopis subrufa, known as the Ogre-faced spider or Gladiator spider (one of Dave’s Australian fave’s), in that it uses the net as a weapon, not unlike a Roman Retarius.

David Attenborough narrates:

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