Sunday, June 17, 2007


Don't Forget Your Hat

For Sunday Scribblings.

A Surinam cockroach -- North America has parthenogenic females only, eccentric creatures themselves -- models a miniature version of Mary's broad-brimmed straw hat. Between capturing and releasing this critter (Pycnoscelus surinamensis, Family Blaberidae) back in October and then playing Invertebrate Fashion Police, I'd say I've crossed over into the "eccentric" realm....

On Friday I was leaning into a hot phone booth outside the post office, taking portrait shots of what I'm pretty sure are venomous spiders, probably brown widows.

Large view.

If my guess is correct, this is Latrodectus geometricus, Family Theridiidae (Cobweb Spiders). I'm waiting for confirmation from Bugguide.Net. Until recently I hadn't known how much variety brown widows can have in their coloring.

Says Bugguide, "The brown widow ... may be almost white to almost black. Typically, it is a light to medium brown, with an orange-to-yellow hourglass marking on the underside of the abdomen; the coloration of the hourglass often is a good indication of this species. The leg segments are banded, with one half of each segment lighter in color than the other half. The back often has a row of white spots (rarely orange or light blue), and there are a few white stripes on each side. Darker individuals lack these markings and are difficult to distinguish from black widows."

Female brown widows rarely bite and are normally quite shy. Males and juveniles don't bite at all. Says Bugguide, "The brown widow produces clinical effects similar to that of the black widow but the typical symptoms and signs being milder and tending to be restricted to the bite site and surrounding tissues."

This one is also probably a brown widow.

Brown Widow?
Large view

Compare with this photo from Don Cadle.

I also spotted this much smaller spider in the phone booth and am waiting for an ID:

Large view

Based on this graphic from Lynette Schimming showing the eye arrangement, this might be a spider in the Dictyna Family (Mesh Web Weavers).

I've become enamored of Florida's bugs (and arachnids) because half the time they're at least as eccentric as I am. I have a special fondness for the owlfly, which I've seen only once so far and which had stymied me completely. Something that looks like a cross between a dragonfly and a butterfly will do that. Add on "divided eyes" that look like they've been split in two, and by the time you're done you've got an insect constructed by committee.

Large view

Here's a close-up of that divided eye.

Owlfly, Side Detail
Large view

I've been stopped by the police for photographing bugs. Seems this eccentricity of mine can fall into the category of "suspicious behavior," as reported in this entry. But my near-arrest, as it were, for photographing a Southern Emerald Moth had a pleasant follow-up. Three months later I photographed a Red-Fringed Emerald Moth and combined the two moths with a shot of the snapdragons in my yard. The resulting collage I created for this entry has been chosen to be the cover of the forthcoming Summer issue of Harp-Strings Poetry Journal.

The Datana moths are back in town. Mary calls them "helmet heads," for reasons evident in this series of photos:

Datana Series
Large view

Family Notodontidae. According to John B. Heppner's A Checklist of the Lepidoptera of Florida, Florida hosts 8 species of Datana, and most of them look fairly identical to me. (Bugguide: "Distinctive as a genus, difficult as to species.")

I counted about 10 Datanas on the post office wall on Friday. When I first saw them a year ago I thought they were so cool, and so weird, that having them appear in the same state as the Daytona Speedway gave me a pun I couldn't resist. So I'd put this collage and entry together.

Mary shares my appreciation for the bizarre, hence her episode with a Martian here.


Blogger bjbw said...

On Friday I was leaning into a hot phone booth outside the post office, taking portrait shots of what I'm pretty sure are venomous spiders, probably brown widows.

I'll just add that to my list of reasons for having a cell phone. Excellent (if a bit disturbing) pictorial.


8:24 AM  
Blogger Patois42 said...

I was going to say that the only thing in your post which makes you the least bit eccentric is the use of a phone booth.

11:25 PM  

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