Suit of Armor

Ironclad beetle - Zopheridae

Ironclad beetle Phellopsis porcata

Yesterday’s “Word of the Day” on my new Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/buggingyoufromSJI was “ Thanatosis.”  Thanatosis is a behavior otherwise known as “playing dead!” Here’s an insect I found on the roadside the other evening, doing exactly that. Only about 15mm long, it was amazing to even recognize it as something other than a piece of bark.

What is it? This beetle is in the family of Ironclad beetles known as the Zopheridae. It is a species called Phellopsis porcata, one of only two North American species in the genus Phellopsis. Little is known about this cryptic beetle, a bumpy, and bark-like “armored soldier.” It is camouflaged from view in what remains of our old-growth forests. This beetle does not fly, so as habitat disappears, so will the beetle. We may never know the entire scope of its role in our forest ecosystems unless these areas are protected.

What do we know about P. porcata? Researchers have documented the behavior of thanatois or playing dead to escape predation, and in the Pacific Northwest, this species feeds on fungi and is associated with western hemlock trees (Tsuga heterophylla).

 

Ironclad beetle - Zopheridae

Here’s a great online diagnostic tool that can help with identifying Ironclad beetles. This links to the page I used to help with the genus Phellopsis: http://coleopterasystematics.com/ironcladid/IroncladID-Phellopsis.html .   Look for these cool beetles when you take your next walk in the forest!

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Working Checklist of San Juan Island, WA Coleoptera

This is a checklist I’ve put together of the Coleoptera of San Juan island.  Beetles with (*) asterisks are those I have actually seen, photographed, or have in my collection.  It is a work in progress!

San Juan Island – List of Coleoptera 2014 by Cynthia Brast

The Fainting Bug! Enoclerus sphegeus

IMG_0997I like beetles. There are interesting ones all over the place…and they do REALLY interesting things. Some can cry like babies. Some like to pat poo into nice little balls and roll them back to their home. Some hang around to take care of their offspring and even “play music” to call them to breakfast…or lunch…or dinner! Some do “bad” things like eat your plants …or your trees…or your house! Some wear really cool suits of shiny armor. They can look like miniature versions of dinosaurs or imaginary space aliens! Some have really cool names…like this one I found the other day…with many friends…hanging out on a dead fir tree. Its name? The FAINTING beetle! That’s exactly what it did when I walked up….fainted right over onto the ground! Stayed that way too…for about 30 seconds with its bright red (aposmatically colored) abdomen warning me it would taste VERY bad if I decided to eat it. No worries there little bug. I was only going to take your photo. Now the scientific name of this fella (or maybe it was a “she”) is Enoclerus sphegeus. It eats the bark beetles that eat fir and pine trees. Check out the photos and next time you see a beetle, take a moment to “admire and inquire” before you automatically stomp it! Not all bugs are bad.

Interested to know more.  Check out some of these references for further reading:

Boone, C., Six, D., and K. Raffa. 2008. The enemy of my enemy is still my enemy: competitors add to predator load of a tree-killing bark beetle. Agricultural and Forest Entomology, 10(4), 411-421.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1461-9563.2008.00402.x/full

Cowan, B., and W.P. Nagel. 1965. Predators of the Douglas Fir Beetle in Western Oregon.  Agricultural Experiment Station, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR. Technical Bulletiin 86 http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1957/8806/?sequence=1

Rasmussen, L. 1976.  Keys to Common Parasites and Predators of the Mountain Pine Beetle. USDA Forest Service Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. Ogden, UT. General Technical Report INT-29

http://www.usu.edu/beetle/documents2/1976Rasmussen_Key%20to%20Common%20Parasites.pdf

Fainting Bug, Enoclerus sphegeus IMG_0990Enoclerus sphegeus, the Fainting Bug IMG_0992Enoclerus sphegeus, the Fainting Bug IMG_0994 IMG_0997 IMG_0999 IMG_1000 IMG_1001

Earwigs here and there…and everywhere!

Earwig is from Old English eár-wicga ‘ear-crawler’ We have LOTS of earwigs! I have them in my beehives, sometimes in my sweater sleeves…and just found one crawling around in the bottom of my purse. When I picked up some wood scraps next to the house a few weeks ago, I noticed an aggregation of them scrambling for new cover. Scratching my head, I pondered whether they live in social groups and hadn’t had a chance to search for any scientific literature about them. Well…that earwig in my purse distracted me from my statistics homework this morning and here’s an article I found. BTW…they don’t really crawl into your ears and eat your brain!

http://io9.com/one-of-the-most-beautiful-stories-youll-ever-hear-about-1566267443

The Confounding Debate Over Lyme Disease in the South | DiscoverMagazine.com

The Confounding Debate Over Lyme Disease in the South | DiscoverMagazine.com.

 

Yes…Lyme Disease does exist in the South.  Symptoms can be extremely debilitating and while antibiotics can help, sometimes the improvements in health are temporary.   Many people have experienced a relapse or suffer prolonged debilitative effects after treatment.  Research for new therapies to overcome Lyme infections are needed as more and more people are diagnosed.

European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum) What do you “bee-lieve?”

I found this bee yesterday at the San Juan Island Community Gardens (https://www.facebook.com/pages/San-Juan-Island-Community-Gardens/161100800613137?fref=ts). A friend helped me get it into a container so I could photograph and hopefully identify it. Took me awhile, but I believe it is a Wool Carder Bee (Antidium manicatum). I read a neat blog about how they are associated with the plant called Lamb’s Ear. Females scrape the “wool” off the leaves to line their nest and both sexes sip nectar from the plant’s flowers. Read more about them here… http://entomology.ucdavis.edu/?blogtag=Anthidium+manicatum&blogasset=45538

European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool Carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool Carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

IMG_9605-European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

IMG_9604-European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

IMG_9603-European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

IMG_9602-European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

 

Bee Colony Rescue Helps Promote Sustainable Farming on San Juan Island

Bee Colony Rescue Helps Promote Sustainable Farming on San Juan Island.

Her Highness Takes Flight!

Her Highness Takes Flight!.

Hopguard, Honey B Healthy and Yummy Smells of Lemon Balm

June 24, 2012

The sun is out today!  We’ve had almost a whole month of gloomy weather that many on the island have dubbed the month “June-u-ary!”    Perhaps the next few weeks will be warmer and the overcast skies will clear.

Last week when I checked my hive, I noticed I had the dreaded varroa mites.  My new queen is doing fine though and the bees have cleared out all of the old drone brood that was the result of my first queen.  I have no idea what became of her, but the operation in place now looks healthy…except for those mites!

Varroa mite

My day today is a full one.  I have been baking and preparing food for my daughter’s high school graduation potluck supper this evening.  While in the kitchen though, I thought I’d take care of some bee hive tasks as well.   Since the jar of sugar syrup I have inside the hive was looking low, I made up a new batch.  This one I made with a teaspoon of Honey B Healthy, a feeding stimulant that contains essential oils that “helps your hives to thrive!”  Did I mention that the lemongrass oil in it made my kitchen smell ten times better than the brownies I was baking?  No wonder my friend and bee mentor, Colleen, who recommended it, said that it makes the bees go crazy.  This stuff smells so good I’d take a bath in it if I could!  Maybe I’m turning into a bee?  They say you end up looking like your pets.  I suppose I might look like a bee when I get my new glasses!

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I also got something called Hopguard from Colleen as well.  Hopguard is a miticide made from organic acids in the hop plant, Humulus lupulus.  It contains 16% potassium salt of hop beta acids and comes in these long gooey strips that are made from food-grade products.  It is safe for my bees and the bee brood, so I don’t have to worry about dangerous chemicals.  All you do is take a sticky strip and hang it over one of your frames draped like this:

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I only hung one strip in my hive since I only have about 5 frames that have been drawn out.   I plan to put in a new strip in about ten days, as the one I put in today won’t work as well as it dries out.  You can read more and watch a video about controlling varroa mites with Hopguard when you visit these sites:

http://www.mannlakeltd.com/hopguard/

http://www.betatechopproducts.com/products/varroa-mite-control

I also put a sheet of sticky paper under the screen in my bottom board.  The mites will fall off the bees and stick to the paper.  It has a grid that makes it easier to count the number of mites, so I can see how heavily infested my bees are as well as an idea of how well the Hopguard strips are working.   I will try a quick check perhaps tomorrow and then again before I put in a new strip.

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Bee back soon with an update!

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Housekeeping, kickboxing and the marionette dance!

Housekeeping, kickboxing and the marionette dance!.

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