Mysteries

Monday Night Mystery: A Queen’s Colors


Tonight’s mystery has plenty of buzz. Will you bee all you can bee? Or will you succumb to the sting of defeat?

Honey, here’s the challenge. What’s up with the color of that bee-yootiful queen?

Five points for explaining what the blue of her paint mark means, and five more for explaining why her body color is so unusually pale yellow. Points will only be awarded to the first correct guess in each category. (And, extra points to anyone who keeps the bee puns coming. Or is that a bad idea?)

The cumulative points winner for the month of August will win their choice of 1) any 8×10-sized print from my photo galleries, or 2) a guest post on a safe-for-work topic of their choosing here on Myrmecos.

Answer to the Monday Night Mystery

While it remains a mystery why anyone thought a peaceful green daisy-dwelling insect was a bed bug, the correct identification is Miridae, or plant bugs.

The mirids are one of evolution’s spectacular radiations. The family contains more than 10,000 mostly herbivorous species and is found worldwide. As many of you picked, mirids are especially recognizable by the cuneus, a portion of the fore wing that folds slightly downward and is separated from the rest of the wing by a subtle suture. I’ve indicated the cuneus on a tarnished plant bug here:

A Lygus sp. tarnished plant bug, showing the cuneus

For their efforts, the indefatigable JasonC wins 6 points for nailing the family ID with some supporting information. Entomologist Julie Stalhut picks up 4 points for being the first to provide the technical term, and Weird Bug Lady (who makes amazing plush insects) gets 4 more for noting the wing venation.

And I’m giving two points to Rob M because this was awesome.

This brings us to the end of month, and to the announcement of the July winner: JasonC.  Jason, please email me for your loot.

Monday Night Mystery: Shutterstock Fail Edition

Away in the windswept greenery of a distant alpine meadow, birds sing sweet lullabies to the azure sky. Dragonflies chase rays of sunlight. Rainbows settle across the sparkling waterfalls. And among the dewey stamens of the shasta mountain daisies, according to the Shutterstock corporation, rests a bed bug:

Wait. What?

Ok. So, not a bed bug. But what is it?

Ten Myrmecos Points (TM) to the first commenter who can name the family of the mystery critter. Per our new rules, you must also give identifying characters that support your entry.

The cumulative points winner for the month of July will win their choice of 1) an 8×10-sized print from my photo galleries, or 2) a guest post here on Myrmecos.

Answer to the Monday Night Mystery

What was that ornately sculptured mystery object?

It was the egg of the Question Mark butterfly, Polygonia interrogationis. I admit, I had an advantage over you folks. I identified the species watching the adult butterfly before she laid that egg on an elm leaf.

Although several of you put in solid guesses, I am awarding no points for this week’s mystery. The single correct entry- by lepidopterist and blogger Chris Grinter– provided no supporting information as per our more stringent rules, and the entries with supporting info didn’t arrive at the correct ID.

But don’t feel bad. This was an especially hard mystery, and one that I wouldn’t have gotten myself had I not spied the egg-layer in action.

Monday Night Mystery

Have the aliens landed? Or is tonight’s challenge something more…terrestrial?

Ten Myrmecos Points (TM) for the first commentator who can give me the correct genus and species, with supporting explanation.

The cumulative points winner for the month of July will win their choice of 1) an 8×10-sized print from my photo galleries, or 2) a guest post here on Myrmecos.

Answer to the Monday Night Mystery

Acromyrmex octospinosus

As so many of you guessed, the Getty Taxonomy Fail was not an Atta but an Acromyrmex.

JasonC- who is rapidly emerging as the Monday Night Superstar- was the first to pick it. Eight points for getting the answer right and most of the way there with a supporting explanation. Two more points to NKanakis for a more precise discussion of the difference: Atta has two pairs of spines on the promesonotum, while Acromyrmex bears three pairs.

Back when I lived in Paraguay, I learned the local Guaraní language distinguishes between the two genera. Ysaú for Atta, and Akéké for Acromyrmex. We don’t make such a distinction in English, where both lineages are called leafcutter ants.

Monday Night Mystery

We’ve pointed and laughed at iStockphoto enough already. Let’s pick on Getty instead:

This ant is misidentified. The horror!

To collect all ten points for tonight’s mystery, be the first to provide the correct genus-level identification. Breaking with tradition, you’ll also need to explain which character(s) support your answer. No exply, no pointsy.

The cumulative points winner for the month of July will win their choice of 1) an 8×10-sized print from my photo galleries, or 2) a guest post here on Myrmecos.