Macrobug Miscellaney


You know, I meant to have something substantial and meaty up for you today. I even had some research done. Then, silly me, I decided to delve a bit deeper, and now I’m several books deep and busy yelling at one of them, “You mean the Farallon Plate, you nimrod! Not the Juan de Fuca! The Juan de Fuca Plate didn’t even exist then! Look, you’ve even got the Farallon Bloody Plate in your diagrams, for fuck’s sake!” Of course, in order to be able to yell this, I first had to go back and make sure I was actually right about when the Juan de Fuca Plate came into existence. This took some doing.

(That’s about 29 million years ago, by the way. So, hopefully someday, if you Google “How old is the Juan de Fuca Plate?” this page will pop up and people will be able to go, “Aha! About 29 million years!” That’s according to The Restless Northwest by Hill Williams. I appreciate him saying so. No one else was coming outright and saying, “This is how old the Juan de Fuca Plate is.” Of course, if I was smarter, I’d have figured out over an hour ago that I could ask, “How old is the Cocos Plate?” and get the answer – they were created at around the same time, and for some reason, Wikipedia isn’t shy about mentioning its age (~23ma). Weird. Anyway.)

In other words, I’m deep in research mode and happy as hell, especially since I’m getting well-versed enough in this stuff to catch minor errors, like the text saying Juan de Fuca when they meant to say Farallon. I think. I’m almost positive, anyway. Go, me!

Unfortunately for you, this means no big, meaty post. I’m gonna bug you instead. Look, Callan Bentley likes macrobugs, and he can hardly be the other person out there who does, and they’re cute, so there we are. Arachnophobes will want to skip the end, though.

Land snail on Marys Peak, Coast Range, OR

No, this isn’t a bug, it’s a land snail. It’s a skinny land snail that looks a bit like an ammonite. It was also tucked back so far in its shell from terror that I thought the shell was empty, and almost put it in my pocket and took it home, until we looked closer and realized that yup, it’s alive and still in there. So we left it in a nice safe spot just off the trail.

Fairy snag, Parker Creek, on Marys Peak.

No, that’s not a bug, either. It’s fungus. The reason I include it here is because this is a post for outtakes, and this is definitely an outtake, and moreover, it should have a fairy sitting on one of the fungus thingies. I’m hoping one of you has mad photo altering skillz and is also extremely bored this weekend, and will pop a fairy on there. Then I can use it as a gullibility test: “Hey, look at this fairy I saw sitting by the creek on Marys Peak!” I’m pretty good at doing the deadpan thing. I had nearly every friend convinced I’d met Richard Dean Anderson in San Diego, even though a closer look at the purported photo would have revealed that a) he was out of proportion to the surroundings and b) there was a bit of glitter nail polish by his head. Glitter nail polish is great for sticking pictures cut out of TV Guide onto photos and fooling your friends, but clear nail polish would probably be best.

I wonder if more or fewer people will believe in the fairy than believed in Richard Dean Anderson?

Bug and daisy near vesicular basalt stop, Quartzville, OR

Right, here at last is one o’ the promised bugs. I saw this little beauty and immediately thought of Callan. And it was kind enough to pose prettily for Callan. I love the red against yellow, with the white surrounding. Everything pops wonderfully. And it would be even more awesome if I knew what the hell it is.

Any insectophiles in the house?

Caterpillar near slickensides stop, Quartzville, OR

Here’s a cute little caterpillar on some rather wild-looking rock. Basalt, I think. Lockwood will know for sure. And hopefully one of you has just squeed and said, “I know that caterpillar!” so that the rest of us will know what it is, too.

Okay, arachnophobes, leave the room.

Little jumping spider on me car near quartz vein stop, Quartzville, OR

Isn’t it darling? We had more than one of these tiny white jumping spiders land on the car during the trip. Lockwood’s quite fond of them. I was, until I saw one that looked much like these sitting in a primrose I was about to sink my nose in to. It had a bee in its fangs and was munching away. There was another dead bee tossed out on a leaf nearby. I wish I’d had my camera: I’ve never seen quite that tableau before. It wasn’t a white jumping spider, I’m fairly sure, but it was white and a cunning little bastard to boot, as it had chosen a white primrose to ambush bees in. Freaky.

This one was just unutterably adorable.

Little jumping spider on me car near quartz vein stop, Quartzville, OR. Got it to stop rushing round and finally pose, there.

Look at that little beauty. Look at those little spidery eyes! Precious. Of course, I can’t look at a spider without thinking of Shelob, but that’s just the geek in me.

Right. That’s it. I’m going back to yelling, “Farallon, you fool!” at my book now, as soon as I can safely remove the cat from it. She just climbed on it to keep the knowledge safe and warm. She’s ever so helpful…

Comments

  1. rq says

    I love insects and I only stopped being scared of them after taking entomology and functional morphology courses at uni. Fascinating little things, especially through the glass of functional morphology. Still can’t wrap my comfort zone around spiders, though. Only in pictures, and even then I get the creepy-crawlies. Not sure why.
    In any event, sorry, can’t tell you just offhand what that caterpillar is (beyond Order: Lepidoptera), or that beetle on the daisy (but yes, it is a type of beetle – Order: Coleoptera). But I can brush off my skills and refresh my knowledge.

    Oddly enough, I was just going through some of my photos and wondering if you’d be interested in some of the insect-related ones as well… I only have a couple, but I’m willing to share!

    • rq says

      Squirrel-proof bird feeders don’t exist. Squirrels just get smarter and smarter; I think it’s a marketing trick.

      Western tent caterpillar is what I got, too – definitely a tent caterpillar, although I’m more familiar with the eastern version (a bit duller) from childhood. Malacosoma californicum. My other option is the Hyphantrea cunea moth, but it seems to have longer hair than this one.
      I got longhorn beetle, same as you, and it’s also specifically female, unless females are on top for this species. :P But the one sex is this red spotted version, while the one that goes on top is black. Hence dimorphic, I think. Anastrangalia laetifica.

      • cope says

        It seems you might be correct about the non-existence of squirrel-proof bird feeders. I had pretty much set my sights on an aftermarket baffle to attach to the post of the bird-feeding staff that sits right outside the window in front of where I key these words but just recently, the Fosbury of squirrels jumped directly from the ground up to the lower of the two bird seed feeders and promptly began gorging himself from the supposedly “squirrel-proof” feeder.

        Perhaps some adaptation of the sky-crane technology of Mars Curiosity…

  2. Trebuchet says

    Readers: In case you haven’t already, be sure to click to embiggen on those pictures, especially the last on of the spider! Awesome little guy.

    It seems a little late in the year, to me, for tent caterpillars — I think I’m used to seeing them in May. Perhaps it’s a little later at higher altitude. I’m also remembering them as being orange-er than this one.