Category Archives: Word of the day

Word of the day: Synanthropic

(The word of the day is a random word on a random page of the Torre-Bueno Glossary of Entomology)

Synanthropic, associated with and living with man, in his dwellings, other building, or produce.

This word  refers to non-domesticated creatures such cockroaches, house flies, larder beetles, etc… things that are cosmopolitan pests, well adapted to living alongside humans in their homes and food storage.

I guess you could say the caterpillars we rear in the lab are synanthropic against their will.



Word of the day: Lapidicolous

(The word of the day is a random word on a random page of the Torre-Bueno Glossary of Entomology)

Lapidicolous; living under deeply imbedded stones.

This word made me think of being a kid (and, well, up through to the present day), flipping rocks and looking for insects.

The deepest rocks usually only have worms underneath, but sometimes there are centipedes, millipedes, sowbugs, diplurans, beetle grubs… you just never know until you look. Maybe a salamander or a snake!

I’m a pain in the butt to go on walks with. While my family wants to talk and enjoy the scenery, I want to stop every couple of minutes to flip rocks and logs. Luckily I inherited this compulsion from my father, so he usually helps me.

Word of the day: Multisetiferous

(The word of the day is a random word on a random page of the Torre-Bueno Glossary of Entomology)

Multisetiferous, bearing many setae

Setae are sclerotized hairlike projections of the cuticle. People often use the words “setae” and “hairs” interchangeably. Caterpillars have two types of setae: primary and secondary. The primary setae are mostly homologous (shared) across lepidopteran families. Each setae is named with a letter and number related to its position on the body. For example D1 is dorsal setae #1. Any differences in the number or arrangement of primary setae can be useful in diagnosing the family, genus, or species of a caterpillar. Secondary setae are only present in a few groups, the ones which tend to be exceptionally hairy. Thus, a wooly bear would be deemed multisetiferous.

Some of my Acronicta species are multisetiferous, like this fuzzy Acronicta americana. Just look at those tufts!

Word of the day: Exuviate

(The word of the day is a random word on a random page of the Torre-Bueno Glossary of Entomology)

Exuviate, to undergo ecdysis; see moulting

Watch out, that caterpillar is about to exuviate!
A variation of the word is exuviation, another word for ecdysis.

Apparently there are a lot of ways to describe the fact that immature insects go through molts in order to grow.
The resulting cast-off skins are called exuviae.
There are also related exuvial droplets and fluid to aid in the molting process, exuvial glands, and exuvial space (the space between the new and old skins during molting).

I dug through my photos and found this cutie, Acronicta afflicta, next to his exuviae. Most caterpillars build a molting mat out of silk, produced by silk glands on their head, that they can grab onto. They dig their little crochet hooks (found on the prolegs) into the silk and use that grip as leverage to get out of their old skin. If you disturb them during this process you may accidentally rip them apart (they have a strong grip!) or otherwise disrupt the molting process. This gets to be tricky when we are rearing lots of caterpillars and need to transfer them to new foliage, so we often cut out the small piece of leaf they are on and transfer them that way.

Ryerson Lab

Functional Morphology, Sensory Biology, Behavior, Biomechanics

I spell it nature

Trying to make sense of the world through science and language.