Monthly Archives: August 2013
Sadly I do not have any carnivorous caterpillars of my own (though some caterpillars in our lab turn cannibalistic in times of stress), but I came across this article on some awesome caterpillars in Hawaii. Some species in the genus Eupethecia have evolved a taste for other tasty insects. Watch the GIFs, learn, and enjoy!
Surprise surprise, right?
The caterpillar lab has been humming along. My advisor was away for a month to explore the southwest and collect a few hundred caterpillars for his next field guide… meanwhile a few lab members and I kept things running around here. Collaborators began sending me more and more material (I currently have about two hundred caterpillars in my care). I even started some real data-gathering experiments!
My advisor returned this past weekend and the lab has been in a frenzy. Jars of caterpillars and bags of plants everywhere. Boiling specimens and trying to not forget about them lest they fry on the hot plate. Urgent requests to run outside and grab a branch of the oak tree out behind the building (or the milkweed down the street, or the birch by the pond, or the alder at the stop sign…).
Here is the lab table right now, actually looking remarkably clean and organized. There are several boxes of caterpillar vials on nearby shelves:
And my caterpillar station:
It is amazing how easy it is to get caught up in the daily grind of feeding caterpillars, cleaning out poop, setting up freshly hatched first instar caterpillars, taking photos, collecting plants, etc. Sometimes I nearly forget exactly what I am supposed to be doing with these guys – experiments! Once I get some pictures organized I’ll let you know what I’m up to… it’s about defensive behaviors. So far so good, and hopefully I’ll have enough data to present something interesting at the Entomological Society of America conference in November. Fingers crossed.
The Bug Chicks (Kristie Reddick and Jessica Honaker) are two talented entomologists, currently involved in a great deal of public outreach. Their website has 50 educational videos and a blog. And now they are trying to raise money for something that I always dreamed of doing myself – a TV show about insects and other arthropods that live in the USA!
I’m glad they’re actually putting into action something that always seemed like a far off dream to me. They are working with the help of Project Noah and National Geographic, but need your help too. They have an Indiegogo campaign going and still have a lot of money left to raise. If you want to see a fun educational show about arthropods that live in your backyard (that you probably didn’t even know existed), please help them out.