Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Excellent exuvia (photo quiz answer) & spring haps (bugs, lizards, birds & cats)

So, ANSWER TO THE Phriday Photo Quiz, which asked what this is:

It's a robber fly (Asilidae) pupa exuvia.
Most likely subfamily Laphriinae.

Got the answer from the ever-on-target Ted C. MacRae 
(of & @tcmacrae on the twit).
He's a ROCK star! =)

I LOVE robber flies--they're like the fighter pilots of the bug world.
Found this one last week resting on our gutter.

If you've never seen them in action, it is NO JOKE
when a robber fly is on the hunt. Wow.

California is where robber flies have speciated LIKE MAD:
386 species in California, 170 endemics (only found in CA).
The author describes California as "the nuclear blast zone of robber diversity."

For much better photos of these impressive & diverse animals,
check out their Robber Fly home page. So cool.


As ever, there were MANY great guesses,
many guessing cicada and sundry other inverts.
Thank you to EVERYONE for your thoughts & words.
I always learn from you. =)

1. Most Precise & Accurate: Ted C MacRae
NAILING it via twitter
(which was great 'cause I didn't know, yet).
HE is the one who suggested robber fly
AND the subfamily (via twitter) & it's CLEARLY a match.

2. Accurate Yet Adorably Vague: Sarah
"some sort of bug-related empty shell thingy."
Exactly what I thought! =)

3. Most Profound: Imperfect & Tense
"Or possibly the personification of the spirit of a small rooster."
Deep thinker, that one...

4. Best Pun: Susannah Anderson
"Just another crazy BCer after doing the winter challenge."
Presumably they are shells of their former selves, after voluntary flash-freezing.

Other Spring Bio Haps

Found this beauty embedded in a carrot flower.

Spied her in my Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada.
At the SAME time, I got the answer from Andy Warren (@AndyBugGuy)
who is SO generous with his bug IDs for hapless bug enthusiasts such as moi.

The males are all black, so this is clearly a female.

Speaking of lady bugs, here's a ladybird beetle (a.k.a. ladybug) pupa post-rain:
turning into an adult, right there on the iris blade.

It's about as big as my pinky nail.

Zooming in I noticed a little TINY guy on the back, left spot:

I love how the scale of nature keeps going up or down,
whether or not we can perceive or comprehend it.

Is my garden dead?

This turkey vulture cast a wary eye over my garden this weekend...

These birds are already big.
Wingspan is between 5' 7" and 5' 10".

Then they do this, and freak my hen out completely.
VERY Dracula in its silent, dark power... =)

But, really, it's just sunning itself on a cool morning.

Watching the Watchers

Every now & then, when I see this:

or this

I follow their gaze to see what they're staring at.

And sometimes am rewarded by things like this:

An apparently preggers (gravid) female greater brown skink (Plestiodon "gilberti" gilberti),
so sayeth California herps
and the laudable Hugh of Rock Paper Lizard fame.
Man knows his herps.

A real treat to see her, and gladly my hen didn't spy her.
I've seen a hen-killed skink before, and it's not pretty. =(

It SERIOUSLY takes a village to figure out what just a FEW of the things living here are.

THANK YOU to all who help ID stuff,
or just share an appreciation for the myriad things
that live on this amazing planet.



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