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Cryptopod: Blackbody on Blackberry

Right. First order of bidness: we’re renaming the “Cryptoinsect” thing because some people apparently can’t accept chucking in any old arthropod under that title. Rather than argue technical versus lay terms and such, we’ll just say “Cryptopod” and be done with it. It’s easier to say and I can sneak sea creatures in under such a title. So there. Nyah!

/fake butthurt

Second order o’ bidness: present a cryptopod. Why, I haz one! (And if anyone here comes along to tell me that’s not an arthropod, I shall give them such a smack.)

Cryptopod I

This, you may note, is a very confused blackberry bramble. It’s in lusty full bloom a full week into October. Doubt we’ll get any fruit off it this year, even though it appears to be getting thoroughly pollinated.

Cryptopod II

Normally it’s bees crawling all over these flowers, but I guess the bees were busy elsewhere. I know they were out – I’ve got a spectacular bee photo from just a few bushes down that you will enjoy mightily when I get this week’s mystery flora posted. Maybe bees don’t like blackberries this late in the season? Don’t like this gentlepod? Just weren’t around at the time? Dunno.

Cryptopod III

I will confess something to you: I don’t actually much like this type of arthropod. You see, the things that look like ants with wings in Arizona generally looked more terrifying and had a nasty sting. I’m getting spoiled by the Pacific Northwest, though, where it seems very few things spend their time being vicious.

Cryptopod IV

Every arthropod I’ve encountered up here has been pretty laid back. Granted, there was that spider bite a while back, but that was merely itchy. Ditto the mosquito bites, although those fuckers are arseholes no matter where in the world you are. But for the most part, I’ve returned from forays unscathed. The creepy-crawlies I’ve photographed have never offered to attack. Even when I shove my camera right up in their faces or the equivalent thereof, they’re mellow – or they flee. Vicious arthropod attacks so far: 0.

Cryptopod V

You know, I used to have very little respect for the ‘sects (and cousins). But I became an atheist. That may not sound like a prerequisite for honoring arthropods, but I developed a liking for biology after hanging about all the atheist sites bashing on creationism, and reading up on evolution changes your perspective on life. You start seeing much less of it as an unnecessary annoyance. You start seeing the small things as part of that beautiful tangled bank, and each one has its own intriguing evolutionary story, and plays a role in others’ stories, and pretty soon you don’t need to become a Jain or a Buddhist before you’re being more respectful of those brief lives.

And then you might just end up with readers who want a go at identifying them, or just love to look at them, and you find yourself seeking them out, and very pleased indeed that all of this happened in a part of the world where it’s not so painful and/or deadly to do art with arthropods.

Comments

  1. rq says

    Order Hymenoptera. Which means something related to ants, bees and wasps, probably a species of bee. Something like this (http://www.flickr.com/photos/treebeard/7673313332/). It’s called a Wild Bee (how creative) and it comes in black (in addition to yellow and black, that is). And it comes in many species.
    Among the black ones is something like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xylocopa_sonorina , but this one looks a bit heavy for the slim figure seen in your photos.
    Then again, it could be your regular honey bee, just in black. Apparently it happens
    So, I’ll leave definite speciation to someone else. :) Nice shots! And yes, they ARE arthropods.

    And it most likely is a bee, since the wasps I know tend to go for fruit (rotten and such), and ants only fly when queening and then they’re looking for a place to stay, not food. They still sting, but I’m biased towards thinking that they’re less aggressive overall and hence less frightening.

  2. rq says

    But wait, you said blackberry bramble? In that case everything I named is too large, if the size of your blackberries is similar to the ones I know.
    :P It’s a hymenopteran, at any rate. Oops. (Once again doing this while in a rush. Probably should stop that.)

  3. says

    Yes, hymenopteran – I’d lean towards a bee (there are lots of small, solitary bees around that go overlooked). More than that I couldn’t say. At least that poor, confused blackberry is getting some bee love.

  4. says

    I’m inclined to say a small carpenter bee, genus Ceratina. They are small and smooth, and males of most species (and females of some) are glossy black. There are several species along the northern Pacific coast, and all of them are very important pollinators. When I was in Vancouver, BC a few months ago, I noticed that many city parks had small apiaries set up on posts to attract them, an effort to prevent urbanization from wiping them out.

    • wrp says

      Looks like Ceratina to me. They’re the right size, very common around Puget Sound, and fond of blackberry flowers. It’s a bit late for them, but it’s been an unusual summer. (I saw an Agapostemon on a sunflower yesterday, which is just weird.)

      There are a few halictid bees in the area that are about that size, but they’re not nearly as common.

      Either way, they’re completely harmless. :)

  5. Trebuchet says

    Not only are the bugs here in the Northwest relatively benign, there aren’t all that many of them. One of the things I always notice when visiting the Midwest is the birdsong. There are more birds there…because there are so many more bugs! Mosquitoes simply aren’t much of a problem here, despite our abundance of water.