Pyractomena borealis (Lampyridae) exploring the surface of trees on a warm winter day in February. The third photograph shows how they can retract their head under the carapace like a turtle. At first I thought they might be foraging — they are highly predaceous, and hunt slugs and earthworms (in packs!) by first injecting them with paralytics. But they might have just been looking for a place to pupate, because it’s time for that. Adults will emerge sometime in early Spring to be the first fireflies in the area. The larvae are bioluminescent, too. The hypothesis about why the larvae glow is that it evolved first as an aposematic trait in larvae, warning mice and toads of the presence of lucibufagins, steroidal toxins in the hemolymph. It’s thought that the adult habit of using flashes is secondarily evolved, millions of years after the larvae evolved the ability to glow. The ability of larvae to glow even predates the origin of the Lampyridae, I gather. For more enlightening details, see Branham and Wezel (2003), Stanger-Hall et al. (2007), and Martin et al. 2017.
Tag Archives: swarthmore
Some photographs I took around town during the morning of January 23rd, 2016. Bottom ones from Swarthmore College.
Note to self: get some gloves that have a hole for a single finger so I can fuss with camera settings without getting frost bite.
These signs are so good, I’m going to submit the photograph to Passive-Aggressive Notes. For the sake of full disclosure, these are not my signs. If you are in Swarthmore drinking whiskey, check them out in person. Contact me if you need directions.
Here’s a close-up of the right sign…but it’s hard to decipher.
Going on multiple walks per day with a dog can be mind-numbing, so I entertain myself by looking for things: four-leaf clovers, dropped coins, interesting beetles, typos in signage, etc. As it turns out, I find a lot of things that people have dropped or forgotten, so I decided to start a little online experiment on Facebook that I’ve unimaginatively called, Swarthmore Lost and Found. I only have 72 fans (that includes me) as of today, which is pretty pathetic for a population of over 6,000, but maybe it will catch on after a few years. To date, I’ve managed to find homes for a bicycle, a glove, a dog tag, and a Hello Kitty rain boot. That’s pretty pathetic as well, but those four people were pleased, which is great.
Anyway, chances are good that you don’t live in Swarthmore (formerly Westdale, Pennsylvania) and that you probably couldn’t care less about all this … but I’m posting this as a suggestion in case you’re in a similar situation on walks and also live in a sleepy neighborhood where people lose things. Give it a try!