Category Archives: Photography

Mosquito traps that work

Spring is officially here so I’ve deployed my collection of mosquito traps (photographs below). In case you haven’t seen them before, each is filled with water and decomposing plant matter (hay and compressed rabbit food), then equipped with special lids (and sticky cards) that prevent females from escaping once they get inside. In addition, eggs that the female might lay are also prevented from developing. All of this happens passively, 24/7, all summer long, without the use of chemicals. I have two from BioCare (~$30 from Gardeners Supply), two from Biogents (~$24 from BioQuip), and one that I made last year (~ $5 in supplies).

Every homeowner should have them. Coupled with other preventative measures (eliminating stagnant water, reducing excess vegetation, etc.), you can knock back mosquito levels and enjoy your yard again. Five units is probably sufficient for an average yard but I plan on making a few more this summer just to make sure.

Ideally, everyone on your block should have them, too, so if you are planning on ordering some you should first send a note to all your neighbors to see whether you can make a bulk order. E.g., if you order a lot of Biogents you can shave a few dollars off of each unit. Buying a bunch might seem like a lot of money but compare it to the cost (~$700) of having a company like Mosquito Squad spray your yard with pyrethroids every several weeks (every year). Using these passive traps also saves all the pollinators that are killed by those pesticides.

Photographs from the Galápagos Islands

It’s taken me several years but I’m finally uploading photographs from my 2015 trip to the Galápagos. Below are just a few of my favorites. To see all 150 or so, please go here.

If you have any burning questions about the Galápagos, please leave a comment or send me a note. I wish I could go back every year.

Greenhouse camel crickets (Tachycines asynamorus)

Here are some photographs of greenhouse camel crickets (Tachycines asynamorus) that I recently found in and around my house. It’s called the greenhouse camel cricket because when it (and related T. japanica) first came to Europe from Asia it was a common insect in conservatories. I’m not positive, but I think before that invasion the name “camel cricket” was more commonly applied to the praying mantis (mantids have long necks just like camels).

Note that the Latin name for this species used to be Diestrammena asynamora. Full details are in Qin et al. 2018. Nobody seems to use the new name except iNaturalist. But I use iNaturalist a lot so I’m going to give the new name a try.

Juvenile greenhouse camel cricket (Tachycines asynamorus) in bathroom sink

This is a juvenile that I found in my bathroom sink. I think they go through 10 instars and I’m guessing this is a 3rd instar male (lacks an ovipositor). It was pretty cute.

Female greenhouse camel cricket (Tachycines asynamorus) in cat litter

Camel crickets love to eat cat feces (don’t judge) so it’s pretty common to find them lurking here, sometimes in large groups. I don’t think the females lay eggs in cat litter but I’ve always been curious. Not curious enough to examine more closely, though.

Female greenhouse camel cricket (Tachycines asynamorus) in cat litter

This is the same individual as above but shows the ovipositor and impressive length of the antennae. The antennae apparently have the ability to sense heat. That’s probably a fact most people don’t want to know.

Female greenhouse camel cricket (Tachycines asynamorus) on stacked firewood

This female was in the woodpile near my garage. It was a cold day so she didn’t immediately launch herself away. They often seem to jump at you, a behavior that doesn’t endear them to folks who think the crickets are actually spiders. I think their jump can max out at 1 1/2 meters, which is pretty impressive. They can’t fly, though, because they lack wings (and are thus silent). Note that placing woodpiles near your house is one way people inadvertently introduce camel crickets into their houses.

Greenhouse camel cricket (Tachycines asynamorus) frass on wall

These three gooey splotches are frass. If you have a large population of camel crickets your wall will become darkened with this spots. I’ve been trying to figure out why they are liquid but haven’t come up with any explanations yet.

If you’re fascinated by greenhouse camel crickets there’s a great article at Your Wild Life that describes how different species are invading the United States. If you just want to kill them I have a few ideas.