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More Bizarre Treehoppers

January 28, 2010

Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

These treehoppers are probably two species in the genus Cyphonia.

The first one you may recognize from this book cover.

500 Insects:
A Visual Reference
by Stephen A. Marshall
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Mating Wasp Mimics

January 28, 2010 | Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Normal disclaimers apply (flies are difficult to identify), but these mating flies might be a Systropus species.

Did you think they might be wasps? They are almost certainly wasp mimics.

Don’t be fooled by what appears to be an extra wing on the one to the right. That’s just a trick of the camera.

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Longhorned Beetle Damaging Stem

January 28, 2010 | Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

This longhorned beetle blends in pretty well with these stems.

Some longhorned beetles are known as girdlers and that name might be aptly applied here. See the damage to the stem in the upper right? I didn’t witness it, but I suspect this beetle is responsible. In fact, given the bending of the stem under its head, it may very well have been chewing away when I took this photo. Further evidence is the frass present, indicating it’s been here awhile.

Why girdle? Some beetles that do it deposit an egg in the stem and then effectively kill the stem by chewing a ring into it. The stem beyond the girdle eventually dies and falls to the ground. The stem provides nourishment for the beetle larva and is then well placed for the grub to later escape into the soil where it completes its development. read more

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Tick Anatomy Lesson

January 28, 2010 | Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

This tick is one of the largest I’ve ever encountered. I’m happy to say it was the only one I saw.

Ticks often wave around their forelegs while perched like this, hoping to grab on to some passing potential host.

When viewed from the side, there’s an interesting bit of anatomy exposed.

Side view (do you see the smaller mite bringing up the rear?)

I wondered about the purpose of that large hole on the tick’s side so I did some research. It’s called the spiracular plate, and it’s basically a tube into the tick’s breathing system. Calling it breathing might be a stretch though. It’s really more of a passive gas exchange. The shape of spiracular plates are also used by taxonomists as a way of distinguishing various types of ticks. read more

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Glittery Micromoth

January 28, 2010 | Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

While less noticed and more difficult to identify, the majority of lepidoptera species are small and are collectively referred to as microlepidoptera or micromoths. Though small, this one’s glittery wing scales caught my eye.

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A Walkingstick with Wings

Walkingstick | January 28, 2010 | Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

We don’t have that many species of walkingsticks here in the Southeastern US. None of the ones I’ve encountered have wings. So this one looks odd to me.

Remember the jumping sticks? Here’s one more photo of one of those so you can see how easy it is to distinguish the two based on their antennae.

Jumping stick | January 28, 2010 | Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

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Crypsis Challenge #5

January 27, 2010 | Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

What sort of critter is hidden here?

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Crypsis Challenge #4 Reveal

Hopefully it didn’t take more than a few seconds to spot the katydid in this image.

January 27, 2010 | Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

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A Caterpillar to Avoid

January 28, 2010 | Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

I found a couple of these large caterpillars very near to each other. First the one above and then the one below. I believe they are a species of Automeris.

With those spines and colors, it’s pretty obvious they are to be avoided. Each one of those spines is like a little hypodermic needle bearing venom.

Here are some closeups.

Head

Spiny cluster

And here’s a particularly intimidating display.

Back off!

So what would mess with this spiny critter? I discovered while reviewing photos of the latter caterpillar that there was a small fly up to no good. Sorry for the photo quality. These are extreme crops. read more

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Some Frogs and Toads from Caraça

These are the frogs and toads I encountered in Caraça Natural Park.

Treefrog | January 26, 2010 | Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Toad | January 27, 2010 | Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Treefrog | January 28, 2010 | Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

I didn’t see any snakes, and I only caught fleeting glimpses of a few large lizards.

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