Category: Wasps and Kin
Category: Wasps and Kin
It may look like a furry and colorful ant, but watch out, the this velvet ant-like creature belongs to the Mutillidae family, which makes it wasp. Though females in this family lacks wings, you don't want to get on their bad side, they've earned their name for having a sting so painful, it has been exaggeratedly described as powerful enough to kill a cow, earning them the name: Cow Killer Ants. Female Cow Killers are very distinct, with furry bodies, an elongated thorax, and a bright orange or red color. Males are very different, lacking a stinger, but equipped with wings, and featuring a very different body shape (See below).
Something a bit different today, if you haven't yet figured it out this blob of sandy goo is jellyfish fresh from the shores of Galveston Beach, Texas. It washed up dead on the shore and made its way to the Sholesonian's collections for the first jelly specimen. This one belongs to the genus Aurelia also known as the common jellyfish as they are found throughout the Atlantic coasts and are also known as moon jellies. They do in fact sting producing a mild burning sensation, a possible rash, and nausea/high blood pressure about half an hour after the sting - nothing serious. Their bodies consist mostly of the bell (top dome area) and tentacles (thin strands that dangle) and can be easily recognized by their distinctive four black spots on top - their reproductive organs; and this species of medusoid is either male or female.
NH 347Furrow Spider
While we weren't able to make this for Saturday, here's another great spider post from our new researcher Eddie Brooks. This particular guy was found on the side of a shed in Ithaca, New York on the afternoon of March 16, 2012. And a nice big shoutout to the people over at Spiders.us who helped with the identification of this male orb weaver!
Larinioides cornutus, commonly known as the Furrow Spider, belongs to a group known as Orb Weavers, who get their name from the concentric circular pattern found in the webs the make. Orb weavers are prolific; they can be found on almost any continent, except Antarctica. The Furrow Spider in particular, however, can be found throughout North America and Europe, and has been occasionally observed in parts of Asia. They are nocturnal creatures that grow up to be roughly half an inch in size. They can be identified by the brown pattern on their backs. Furrow spiders will never bite unless provoked, and can be commonly found in urban settings, where they will prey upon other insects in basements, cellars, and other dark corners. For more information, BugGuide has details on the Furrow Spider and the Orb Weavers in general.
So you may have noticed something a bit different, the Sholesonian tag for this nice butterfly specimen is A006 so what in the world does that mean? Well, I'm currently in Arkansas working on a research project investigating the geology of Venus and I unfortunately wasn't able to bring all my museum equipment (including the record book for insects) so all non-geology/fossil posts will have a unique Arkansas tag. And now that we are back up and running here is a beautiful swallowtail specimen collected outside the Fantastic Caverns of Springfield, Missouri with a new Sholesonian researcher Eddie Brooks:
Marbled Orb Weaver
I am proud to say that the newest addition to the museum is a new collection of vialed insects and arachnids. So to kick off this new section I present this beast of a spider which my friend Kayla and I managed to find and capture her at Cornell University, down by Beebe Lake. Now we weren't too sure about our on-the-spot identification, but I believe that it may be a Marbled Orb Weaver, possibly Araneus marmoreus. They aren't poisonous but the thing is a bit too big for me to feel comfortable around it.
Thinking about making Saturdays 'Spider Saturdays,' but we shall see if that will continue . Anyway, technically today's exhibit isn't actually a spider at all despite most everyone calling them spiders. They are, however, arachnids (just not true spiders) and belong to the order Opiliones. I don't know the rest of the classification yet, but if anyone knows how to classify these guys further please just post a comment.
Banded Garden Spider
So, it's Saturday and I think I'll continue on with Spider Saturday here at the Sholesonian. Today is a very interesting piece that I personally collected, interesting in both how big it is and the story about how I captured it. First off, I can tell you that this is a Banded Garden Spider (Argiope trifasciata) after I mis-identified it as a Common Black and Yellow Garden Spider (thanks Kayla). Second, I should tell you how I go about collecting my spider collections. I use those plastic cups with lids that normally are used for taking ketchup and other condiments for on the go, and I just scoop them up when I find them.
It's Saturday, which means only one thing, that it's Spider Saturday! Today's spider is actually the first spider from outside my building I caught and vialed for the collection. This spider is a very common grass spider here in Ithaca. This guy belongs to the genus Agelenopsis and is probably a male. He was found behind Warren Hall , Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA and collected on September 18th, 2010. These guys build funnel webs to live and catch their prey (though their webs aren't sticky like the stereotypical spider web, but they are quite fast and agile).
So I know I like to space out the collections but I looked and realized that out of all the Natural History pieces I've put up so far, only 3, they have all been vialed spiders. So to diversify the posts I decided today would be a good day to post up one of the pinned insects from the collection. And to start off I present you all with one of my favorite pinned pieces. So if you haven't been able to tell yet, this guy is a dragonfly and I am going to temporarily identify him as a Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans).
So nothing too fantastic today, just an ordinary worm that I collected. Now while I'm not an expert on insects by any means, worms (which are Annelids rather than Arthropods) are way out of my scope of identification. This means that you guys will have to go on my best guess for what this is and I'm only going down to the family classification. For now I am calling this guy just a regular North American earthworm, family: Lumbricidae. Any further would require me to do some more extensive research, of which I am too busy to do especially when their are more important specimens that need that kind of attention.
The Sholesonian is an online museum databasing all the unique, scientific, and interesting things I've found over the years. Every week I'll be posting up at least one new item to the collection along with a little tidbit on what it is. Enjoy!