Mysteries

Answer to the Monday Mystery: Trachymyrmex

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Trachymyrmex septentrionalis

It’s Saturday already, and I’m only just now getting around to posting the answer to Monday’s challenge. It’s been a busy week here at Myrmecos headquarters.

What was that marvelous golf club of mystery and befuddlement?

As some of you guessed, it was a nest cast of the fungus-growing ant Trachymyrmex septentrionalis dichrous, made by pouring molten metal into a nest entrance and digging out the resulting sculpture. This particular one was made by ant guy extraordinaire Christian Rabeling when he was a student at the University of Texas.

trachy_cast

Fungus-growing ants tend to excavate unusually cavernous chambers relative to the small size of the entrance tunnels, giving their cultivars ample space to grow.

So. 10 points to Mr. I Love the Ants.

This brings us to the end of the February mysteries, and our monthly winner is a two-way, 10 point tie between Mr. I Love the Ants and Tommy McElrath. Congratulations, gentlemen! Email me for your loot.

 [7/25/2014 – correction – Christian writes in:

That was actually a Trachymyrmex dichrous nest that I casted near Brasília in a Cerrado preserve. This nest chamber sat quite deep at 190cm and a tunnel was leading down to a second chamber, which I could not get with the same pour.  As you can image, the excavation was pretty tedious and took me a couple of days, but it was entirely my fault, because it’s stupid to excavate nests in the dry season when the ants dig deep.  Anyhow, I enjoyed seeing the great picture you took of the cast (it looks three dimensional!).  ]

Monday Night Mystery

Because I missed last week, tonight’s post will be lumped with the February mysteries for the purposes of calculating the monthly winner.
 
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Points will be awarded for the first correct guess as follows:

1. What is this, and how was it made? (5 points)
2. What is the genus or species of the insect responsible? (5 points)

The cumulative points winner for the month of February, and tonight, will win their choice of:

1) A guest post here on Myrmecos
2) Any 8×10 print from my insect photography galleries
3) A myrmecos t-shirt

Good luck!

Answer to the Monday Night Mystery

What was yesterday’s Panamanian bug of intrigue and mystery?

Here’s one lurking inconspicuously among some Dolichoderus bispinosus ants:

Lophyraspis muscaria
An adult ant-mimicking plant hopper, Lophyraspis muscaria, at left, blends in with Dolichoderus ants as they tend honeydew-producing nymphs on a Panamanian bromeliad. Gamboa, Panama.

So the correct answer is Aetalionidae: Lophyraspis, and the model is Dolichoderus. I am also accepting what I understand to be the junior synonym, Gerridius.

Points are awarded as follows:

5 to Jason Cryan for family & partial for genus, 2 to Mark Sturtevant for picking the valid generic name, 4 to Rodolfo for getting the mimic, and 1 consolation point each to Jason C and Matt P for discussing other possible models (although, Camponotus sericeiventris is likely a stretch given its size).

In life, the bug’s camouflage is effective. I did not immediately notice it among the ants. Oddly, Lophyraspis is a backwards mimic, so that the head of the bug appears to be the ant’s backside. So. Um. Hairy butt mimic.


source: Sakakibara, AM,  Creao-Duarte, AJ. (2004) Sobre o gênero Lophyraspis Stål e descrição de novas espécies (Hemiptera, Aetalionidae, Biturritiinae). Rev. Bras. entomol. [online]. 48:193-197. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0085-56262004000200006.

 

Monday Night Mystery: The Case of the Unknown Sap-Sucker

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Today I found this unprocessed gem of a photograph in my old files. It’s from a trip Mrs. Myrmecos and I took to Panama in 2007. After dusting it off, I’ve posted it here.

Your challenge:

1. To what family does our mystery insect belong? (3 points)
2. To what genus does it belong?  (3 points)
3. This insect mimics an ant. Name the model species (4 points)

Points will be awarded only for the first correct answers, and the cumulative points winner for the month of February will win their choice of:

1) A guest post here on Myrmecos
2) Any 8×10 print from my insect photography galleries
3) A myrmecos t-shirt

Good luck!

Answer to the Monday Mystery

Mystery SEM1
A scanning electron micrograph of a mosquito. Credit: public domain image from CDC/Elizabeth Perez.

What was Monday’s magnified monster?

While the most obvious lineage to sport scales is the butterflies and moths, several other insects have them too, including mosquitoes. And that was our mystery insect.

10 points to Tommy McElrath for being the first to the correct answer. I’m also awarding one consolation point to Guillaume, who somehow managed to find the original image hidden away in CDC’s databases.

 

 

Monday Night Mystery

Tonight’s challenge is a straight-up identification.

A scanning electron micrograph of our mystery insect. (Credit: CDC/public domain)

 

The above image depicts part of an insect under high magnification.

1. To what order does this insect belong? (3 points)
2. To what family does this insect belong? (3 points)
3. What part of the insect is shown in the foreground?(4 points)

To earn points, be the first person to correctly answer each question. The cumulative points winner for the month of February will win their choice of:

1) A guest post here on Myrmecos
2) Any 8×10 print from my insect photography galleries
3) A myrmecos t-shirt

Good luck!

Answer to the Monday Mystery

rohweri20
Cephalotes rohweri, Tucson, AZ

You did well with last night’s turtle ant challenge.

Based on the saguaro cactus, the header photo must have been taken in the Sonoran desert. Only one Cephalotes species occurs there: C. rohweri, or #2 in the list. 6 points go to Danny MacDonald for being the first to pick the correct mystery ant from the lineup. Additional points go to Zestin (2 points) and to KMS (2 points) for picking C. atratus and C. clypeatus as species that lack a discrete, differentiated soldier caste. I’m also awarding Jon 1 consolation point for extra footwork in naming the other 9 species.

 

Monday Night Mystery: The Case of the Turtle Ant

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Tonight’s challenge tests your knowledge of Cephalotes, one of my favorite genera of ants.

 

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Your questions are:

1. Which of the above species are you most likely to encounter in the habitat pictured in the top photograph? (6 points).
2. Most turtle ant species have distinct major and minor worker castes, but two of these do not. Name them (2 points each).

The cumulative points winner for the month of February will win their choice of:

1) A guest post here on Myrmecos
2) Any 8×10 print from my insect photography galleries
3) A myrmecos t-shirt

Good luck!

Answer to the Monday Mystery

sdfs
Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Say 1924) – the Colorado Potato Beetle.

The answers to Monday’s Identify-Thomas-Say’s-Species challenge are as follows:

Five of the 12 mystery species were described by the pioneering entomologist. They were:

3. Cycloneda munda – 2 points to Isa Solange
6. Solenopsis molesta – 2 points to Chris Murrow
7. Anopheles punctipennis – 2 points to Jay Smith
8. Leptinotarsa decemlineata – 2 points to Isa Solange
10. Climaciella brunnea – 2 points to Jay Smith

These answers tie Isa Solange and Jay Smith at four points for the week.

Additionally, I am awarding two points to Viktor Nilsson-Örtman for citing each original reference for all the Say and most of the non-Say species, and one point to James Trager for identifying the Carpenter ant species.

This brings us to the end of  January. Our winner for the month, with seven points garnered across two weeks, is Brendon Boudinot. Congrats, Boud! Contact me for your loot.

Monday Night Mystery: Oh Say Can You See

Thomas Say is widely regarded as the father of American entomology. Which of the following American insects did Say name and describe?

Say_Mystery

 

To earn points, be the first to give the Latin name for each of the above species described by Say.

The cumulative points winner for the month of January will win their choice of:

1) A guest post here on Myrmecos
2) Any 8×10 print from my insect photography galleries
3) A myrmecos t-shirt

Good luck!