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Sign Challenge #1 Reveal: Spinybacked Spider Egg sac

This reveal for Sign Challenge #1 is long overdue. Here’s the challenge photo again:

~15mm long | August 23, 2012 | Sebring, FL, USA

~15mm long | August 23, 2012 | Sebring, FL, USA

Commenter Daniel Heald correct guessed it was a spider egg sac. Here’s another angle:

Dorsal view

Dorsal view

When I took the photos, I assumed it was a cocoon. I was curious to see what moth would emerge, so I took it home with me.

After looking through Tracks & Sign of Insects and Other Invertebrates, I realized it was actually an egg sac for a Spinybacked spider (Gasteracantha cancriformis). In fact, I had seen many of those spiders in the area. The egg sac’s yellow silk, dark longitudinal line, and placement on the underside of a leaf all point to this species. read more

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Mystery Egg Mass

25mm long | July 12, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil

What looks a bit like peanut brittle is presumably an egg mass. I found this on lichen covered bark at the base of a tree. Overall it was about 25mm long, which would make each of the embedded eggs less than 2mm long.

Side view

Each egg appears to be elliptical, with a sort of knob at the exposed end.


I don’t have a clue what is responsible for this, so I’d love to see comments from anyone that might have an idea. I’ve been through the “Eggs and Egg Cases” chapter of Tracks & Sign of Insects a few times already, but I haven’t spotted any likely suspects. read more

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Mystery Eggs

Egg, ~1mm wide | July 12, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil

These curiously textured and patterned eggs were placed on a dried leaf tip. I don’t recall ever seeing anything quite like them. I don’t know what they are, but I’d guess moth eggs.

Some of the ones around the edge are a bit crumpled.

Edge shot, showing crumpling

Here’s a wider view, to give you some context for the placement.

Wider shot, showing placement

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Parasitoid Wasp Emerging

July 8, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Each one of these eggs from the underside of a leaf was parasitized by a wasp.  Their barrel shape with round fringed caps suggests they might be stink bug eggs. Had a stink bug nymph emerged, the caps would have been neatly opened. Instead, they each have a roundish hole chewed in them. In fact, there’s a parasitoid wasp straggler chewing its way free from the rightmost egg.

I might be seeing things, but you can almost make out the wasp’s body through the transparent egg shell.

View from the other side

I didn’t notice at the time, but a mite came along. read more

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11mm long | July 8, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil

This atypical treehopper belongs not to the family Membracidae, but to a separate family, Aetalionidae.

Searching around on the internet, it seems most photographers generally seem to catch these hoppers while tending their eggs, as shown here.

To learn a bit more about the family check out Ted C. MacRae’s post from earlier this year.



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Battleship-shaped Ootheca

31mm long | July 6, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil

I saw quite a few of these oddly shaped things. My guess would be that they are the oothecae (egg masses) of a praying mantis. I’ve read that each species of praying mantis has a distinctive looking ootheca. After quite a bit of searching, I’ve been unable to find one that looks quite like this.

This one was on some sort of succulent plant, but I found others on tree trunks and various other plants.

Another view

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Lacewing Eggs Comparison

9mm high | July 5, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil

I assume these are hatched lacewing eggs, though I think there are other critters that lay stalked eggs as well. What I found interesting was how long the stalks are relative to the eggs. The lacewing eggs I usually find have relatively shorter stalks. Compare the hatched ones above with some unhatched ones below that I found in a park close to home.

5mm high | August 27, 2011 | Twelvestones, Roswell, GA, USA

Searching around the internet I see two common explanations for why eggs are laid on stalks. First, the stalks make it more difficult for predators such as ants to reach the eggs. The stalks are sometimes even coated with a repellent substance. Second, lacewing larvae are cannibalistic and the stalks serve to keep keep newly hatched larvae away from each other. read more

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Webbed Eggs

9mm high | July 3, 2011 | Tupaciguara, Minas Gerais, Brazil

I’m not sure what type of eggs these are, but I saw several clutches like this. I thought at first perhaps a fungus had grown over them and that might be the case. I’m more inclined to believe the webbing was added as some sort of protection by whatever is responsible for the eggs.

I suppose these could also be cocoons, but I’d be surprised if the larvae managed to align themselves so well.

Had I found these in my own backyard, I’d have kept them to see what emerged.

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Ants Tending Leafhoppers

July 2, 2011 | Monte Alegre, Minas Gerais, Brazil

These ants are tending to some treehopper nymphs. Most of the ants are busy collecting honeydew, but the one on the bottom has noticed me and is on alert. I accidentally bumped the branch after this shot and all of the ants started running around looking for something to attack. I held up a leaf for a background here so that the ants would stand out.

In this next shot, I’m assuming the white areas are either treehopper eggs or a protective covering for the eggs. One of the adult treehoppers is also visible here, a darker shade of red than the nymphs. read more

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Amplypygids – Tailless Whip Scorpions

20mm | January 19, 2011 | Armonia Nature Preserve, Limon Province, Costa Rica

These fearsome looking arachnids have an order to themselves, Amblypygi. Though commonly called tailless whip scorpions or whip spiders, they are neither. Intimidating though they may look, they aren’t dangerous and possess no venom. They are quite timid in fact, and I had to take care not to scare them away while photographing them.

Here’s how you might expect to see one actively moving about, with its oversized first pair of legs outstretched.

Longest legs extend outside frame

That first pair of legs is modified for use as antennae. They wave them about, sensing and probing. While the body of this one measured only 2cm, each one of those antenniform legs was 8cm long! read more

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