insect-pictures

Jägers on Tumblr

Memes Jägers would have:

  • Tagging pictures of insects “culinary”.
  • Tagging pictures of babies “culinary”.
  • One Jäger posts a picture of a hat and every comment afterwards is the hat badly photoshopped on a different Jäger with a description of how they stole it from the last one.
  • Tagging pictures with the names of long dead Heterodynes because it reminded a Jäger of something they did.
  • Tagging in the accent.
  • Claiming halfway through an argument that they can’t read.
Sisterly

I had the dream again last night.

It starts off by recreating a memory; my sister Olivia and I in a river with the water up to our knees, grinning like a pair of fools and trying to catch fish as they raced upstream. It was early autumn and we were nine. Looking back, it was probably the most wonderful time of my life.

However, the dream doesn’t end quite so wonderfully.

It changes when Livy and I are crouched in the river, our hands under the surface waiting for a fish to swim too close. It changes when I close my hands around a large rainbow trout, larger than any other we had caught that day. I can feel its scaly flesh underneath my fingertips. I can feel its strong body trying to free itself from my grasp. Livy is to my left, jumping up and down excitedly and voicing words of encouragement, but I focus only on my catch. It was beautiful, a true prize-winner. The setting sun gave life to the trout’s radiant features; its many colored scales shone like a beacon to the gods. It made all its brethren look like sickly little leeches.

My attention is drawn away only when a loud clap of thunder causes me to look upwards. Livy looks up too. We watch without a word as a blackness stretches across the sky; small at first, then expanding, growing out of nothing and curling outwards. Eating up the sunset, the clouds, the trees, and anything else it can wrap itself around. Devouring not just sight, but sound as well. The rushing of water and cawing of crows becomes muffled; as if all noise had retreated to another room with shut doors. Soon enough they can’t be heard at all. The world goes dark. I see nothing but the blackness that envelops me. I hear nothing but the sound of my own breathing. It’s as if the world had been temporarily shut down; like the angels above had pushed a big red button on heaven’s control panel, and all the whirring mechanisms had ceased to a halt.

In an instant, the world had died, and only the darkness lived.

It lasts for a few more dragged out moments, and then my surroundings take shape again, bringing the sounds and colours with them. I look to my left, but Livy is gone. I become aware of the trout still wriggling in my hands, but something has changed. The feeling of rough, scaly flesh has been replaced by an entirely new texture. My gaze shifts downwards. The trout is gone, but I can’t let go.

My focus returns as I wrap my hands tighter around Livy’s throat. Her hair fans out around her as I push her down harder into the muddy river bottom. A stream of bubbles escape her lips; I can feel them hitting my wrists. Her eyes are so wide, I’m reminded of the insect pictures in my father’s biology texts. She wears a look of panic on her face, but more so than that, a look of utter confusion. I console her with a soothing look of my own, reassuring her that I know exactly what I’m doing. I examine her face for another moment, and then I decide that I’ve seen enough. I close my eyes, the slightest hint of a smile on my face, and I wait for the bubbles to stop hitting my wrists.

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7

Konstanz, Constance or whatever you call it, is quite a nice place to visit when you have a day to kill and happen to be around the Swiss-German border. Place the kids into the Sea Life at the border of the lake (a big lake, mind you) and enjoy the stroll through the rather crowded streets of the medieval town center. There’s even a tower to climb in the town’s cathedral, from where the whole lake and the narrow streets of the town can be admired - within limits, as not all balconies on the top are open and the ones which are not are swarming with such a luxurious insect life that taking pictures through the windows is basically useless. That is, unless you like spiderwebs and dead flies in macro view. At the base of the tower there’s a terrace restaurant - obviously - but you won’t get a beer picture from there because as soon as we got our orders, a sudden gush of strong wind threw a heavy umbrella right in the middle of our table, shattering everything in sight. Nobody got hurt - surprisingly - but until we cleaned up ourselves it was time to leave so there, here’s a German beer enjoyed at home instead:  a barleywine from the Bavarian brewery Crew Republic, by its name X2.1 (X for experimental see) and by the taste yummy like malted chocolate just not overly sweet. I would have liked it with some more fruit or more barrel or more hops or more whatever, just more of something, but even so it was a fully enjoyable drink.

5

SICKadellidae: Or Rather, A Cicadellid with Parasites

Everything has parasites, probably even you.

When reviewing my pictures of insects I often notice hangers-on that would never have been seen unless I had an real-up-close look. I found this tartessine cicadellid this morning - it is likely Stenocotis depressa, a widespread and variable Australian species - on the way to work. Cicadellids are a type of bug often called leafhoppers. It was under the bark of a Eucalyptus planted in a park; one piece of bark (5cm long) examined and one creature found, or so I thought. I never noticed its ‘riders’ until I later reviewed the pictures on the computer. In the first image you can see the leg on the left has a red blob attached to it. Similarly, in the second and third images there are more or these red blobs mostly attached to appendages underneath the body. Altogether there are eight.

Back to the camera and the result is the fourth image. This time the nature of the blob is clear - it is a tiny little mite (0.2 mm) attached with its mouth parts to the front leg (protibia) if the cicadellid. Many invertebrates carry a similar load - mites of many types are common ectoparasites (external parasites) of insects and other arthropods like spiders and harvestmen. In this case I’m not sure of the identity of the mite - if you know it, please tell!

My best guess is that it is likely to be the larva of one of the velvet mites or their relatives (Trombidioidea). These mites have a complex life-cycle with larval stages parasitising arthropod hosts and sucking their haemolymph (bug blood), sometimes quite host-specifically, and then growing up to become voracious, and stunning, free-living predators of small arthropods. Nice, but that’s a tiny little insight into life, right? Now go find out what is parasitising you.

One of the Many Little Things with even Littler Things riding on it!

Feeder insects for hedgehogs

Hedgehogs are omnivorous animals by nature but most of their diet consists of insects. While they’re not going to die if you don’t feed them insects, I personally think it’s an important part of their diet given their menu in the wild. And most hedgehogs absolutely love them! Some hedgehogs just won’t eat insects, but don’t give up when your hedgie ignores them the first couple of times. It can take up to a few weeks and several tries (or even longer) before they get they’re edible, especially when they are not used to it - but once they’ve tried them, they’ll go nuts for it!
Some hedgehogs don’t like taking new treats straight from you. Leave the insects in their food bowl during the night instead.
I never feed insects straight from my hands; I leave them in their bowls or use tweezers for the sake of my fingers. You don’t want your hedgie accidentally chomping down on you in their enthusiasm!

Live, freeze dried or canned?
Some people don’t like squirmy bugs but live insects are definitely the best option, so your hedgehog could be a good excuse to overcome your fear! They are more nutritious since you can gut load them before feeding, and they’re fresh. Freeze dried insects like mealworms can cause constipation, so feed them in moderation.

Store bought or wild caught?
It is not recommended to feed wild caught insects to your hedgehog. These can contain parasites and pesticides. You can buy live insects in lots of pet stores and there are webshops who sell them online.
Breeding your own insects is cheaper and not that hard (with most species). You can find lots of caresheets and tips online!
Take good care of your insects and give them enough food and water before feeding them to your hedgehog. Otherwise it’s just an empty snack.

Suitable feeder insects
Here are some common (and less common) feeder insects with pictures.

Mealworm (Tenebrio molitor, on the right) and superworm (Zophobas morio)

Probably one of the most well-known feeder insects, mealworms are easy to keep and easy to breed. If you don’t want them to pupate it’s best to keep them refrigerated. This will slow down their metabolism. It’s very easy to breed your own mealworms if you keep them at room temperature. Hedgehogs can eat the pupae and beetles as well.
Superworms look like giant mealworms and are harder to breed since they are less likely to pupate. Some people cut off the head before feeding them since they have pretty strong jaws.
Both mealworms and superworms are quite high in fat so if your hedgehog has trouble staying slim you shouldn’t feed too many meal/superworms.

House cricket (Acheta domesticus)

Another common feeder insect. This one is a great treat for hedgehogs since they are low in fat and most hedgehogs love hunting for crickets. They are easy to keep and easy to breed (at room temperature, or slightly higher). Crickets can be quite noisy!
They are available in different sizes so they are suitable for young hedgehogs as well.

Jamaican Field cricket and Black field cricket (Gryllus assimilis/Gryllus bimaculatus)

About the same size as the house cricket, but they are not so fast and jumpy. While assimilis is a pretty silent cricket, bimaculatus has one of the loudest calls.
They need higher temperatures in order to breed.

Both crickets in the pictures above are young ones.

Dubia roach (Blaptica dubia)

Probably the best feeder insect for hedgehogs together with crickets since they are low in fat. The Dubia roach is a tropical roach (so if they escape their enclosure they won’t survive) and needs to be kept at a minimum of 68 F. It should be warmer if you want them to breed. They breed pretty easily, don’t smell and make no sound. They can’t climb either so it’s hard for them to escape if you keep them in a glass tank or plastic tub.

Desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria)

A big insect, low in fat so suitable for every hedgehog although they are too big for young ones. They are quite hard to breed, need higher temperatures and it can be harder to gut load them since they only eat grass and plants.

Waxworm (Galleria mellonella)

These are the larvae of the Greater wax moth. They are high in fat and should be fed as an occasional treat only. You can keep them at room temperature or in the refrigerator so they don’t pupate.

Phoenix worm/calcium worm (Hermetia illucens)

There are several names for the larvae of the Black soldier fly but the most common one seems to be “Phoenix worm”. They are very rich in calcium and not too high in fat (somewhere in between crickets and mealworms). They also contain high levels of lauric acid, which is known to kill viruses and bacteria. These larvae are suitable for every hedgehog and a great option for smaller hedgies who need a low fat treat.

Butterworm (Chilecomadia moorei)

These “worms” are actually the larvae of the moth Chilecomadia moorei. They have a bit of a fruity/buttery scent, hence the name.
Since these moths are considered a pest outside their native Chile, the larvae are irradiated before being exported so they cannot grow into moths and breed. They’re best kept refrigerated.
These larvae are high in fat and should only be fed as an occasional treat.

Sun beetle (Pachnoda marginata peregrina)

The larvae of the sun beetle are quite big and really high in fat. They should only be fed as an occasional treat - it’s like giving your hedgehog a big bag of fries.
The beetles they turn into cannot be fed since they excrete a nasty tasting fluid when threatened, but they can be kept as pets and are easy to care for and very pretty! They need higher temperatures to breed and pupate.
They have strong jaws so it might be good to cut off the head before feeding them to your hedgehog.

Dendrobena (Dendrobena veneta)

Mainly used as a composting worm and as fishing bait, they should be kept at (low) room temperature. They’re low in fat and soft, so they make a nice treat next to insects like crickets and roaches.