Tag Archives: cold

Supranivean insects and spiders

Winter is usually a depressing down time for those who enjoy taking photographs of insects and spiders, but a fresh snowfall can reveal all sorts of critters still crawling around, albeit slowly or not at all. Below are 11 of my recent finds.

1. Some sort of cynipid wasp. It’s nearly wingless (subapterous), so likely a member (female, obviously) of the asexual generation that many of these wasps go through. If I knew the species I could provide a link to the gall they make (usually on an oak), which often looks very different from the gall made by the sexual generation. If you recognize the genus or species, please let me know. Or, if you are a member of iNaturalist, comment on the observation page. Hildacy Farm, Media, PA.

Asexual cynipid in snow

2. This is probably a queen Lasius claviger. This species is a social parasite, so she might be out looking for a nest of some other species in the genus. I couldn’t find any report of queens being active during the winter so perhaps there’s another explanation. This individual was one of two I found, separated by several feet. Thanks to Gordon C. Snelling on iNaturalist for genus ID. If you think my species ID is wrong, you can correct me on iNaturalist (with thanks). Hildacy Farm, Media, PA.

Lasius claviger (queen)

3. Fly in the genus Simulium, per suggestion by John F. Carr on BugGuide. Here’s the iNaturalist page if you know the species and care to leave a comment. I’d even be grateful for a subgenus guess. It’s a black fly, but I’m not sure whether all of them are biting. Hildacy Farm, Media, PA.

Simulium sp. in snow

4. This seems to be a fly in the genus Pollenia, notable perhaps because they parasitize earthworms, which was news to me. Perhaps I’m easily impressed. Saratoga Springs, NY.

Pollenia sp. in snow

5. Here’s another fly from Saratoga Springs, and I think it’s also a Pollenia. Also not moving but in this case likely dead (its thorax seemed crushed, though ventral view doesn’t show it. If you have ID thoughts, here’s iNaturalist page.

Pollenia in snow

6. This a male Chironomus crassicaudatus. A tad contorted and not moving so not the best photograph. Thanks to John F. Carr for ID. Here’s the iNaturalist page if you’re curious. Hildacy Farm, Media, PA.

Chironomus crassicaudatus (male) in snow

7. This female fly was a few feet away from the male above, and is perhaps the same species. But definitely in the same tribe (Chironomini). Thanks, again, to John F. Carr for identification. I’ve also posted the photograph on iNaturalist if you want to weigh in on identification. Hildacy Farm, Media, PA.

8. Another fly in the genus Simulian, per Katja Schulz on iNaturalist. Sure looks like the images on the (Psilozia) vittatum species complex page on BugGuide. Hildacy Farm, Media, PA.

Simulium sp. in snow

9. Lygus lineolaris, per an identification on iNaturalist. Hildacy Farm, Media, PA.

Tarnished plant bug (Lygus lineolaris) in snow.

10. Some type of crab spider (Thomisidae). I haven’t been able to ID further. If you have thoughts, please see the iNaturalist observation page. Hildacy Farm, Media, PA.

Thomisidae in snow

11. Long-jawed orbweaver, probably Tetragnatha. The strange thing about this spider is that I found it several feet away from where I found Tetragnatha in the snow one year before. So I was actually looking for a Tetragnatha in the snow when I found it. If you are a member of iNaturalist and want to comment on the species … here’s the page. Hildacy Farm, Media, PA.

Tetragnatha sp. in snow.

Sadly, I didn’t find any snow flies (Chionea) but here’s one I found several years ago. This post has details.

Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; snow-fly

Hardy kiwis

I’ve had to wait over 10 years, but my female kiwi finally set fruit in 2014 after probably 12 years. The fruit are tiny — about the size of a big grape — but wonderfully delicious.

Colin Purrington Photography: plants &emdash; hardy-kiwi-1

Colin Purrington Photography: plants &emdash; hardy-kiwi-2

Colin Purrington Photography: plants &emdash; hardy-kiwi-3

Seasonal plea for informed antibiotic usage

The Centers for Disease Control recently announced that the 2012 flu season is gearing up to be heavy, so I wanted to make my yearly plug for greater clarity in antibiotics names.  Here’s why: according to a Pew study, approximately 36% of adults believe that antibiotics can help treat viral infections.  This percentage, the study contends, reflects a populace that is ignorant and fingers these people as contributors to the rise of antibacterial resistance (they ask their physicians for antibacterials when they have the flu), which is an enormous public health problem worldwide.

Graphic illustrating the types of antibioticsA painfully easy and cheap solution to the ignorance problem is for everyone to stop misusing the word, “antibiotic.”  When people hear the word “antibiotic,” they quite reasonably assume that it describes a drug that is effective against “biotic” thingies (that’s the technical term) and thus might treat viral infections, too.  Indeed, when “antibiotic” was first dreamed up as a word, it meant “anti-infective” (see details in last year’s plea).

Imagine, for example, if the CDC starting using “antibacterial” in all instances when it meant antibacterial.  Doing a search/replace on their website and PDFs could catalyze similar changes across the planet and could lead to a marked drop in the lay confusion about the efficacy of antibacterials on viruses.   Of course, the reply I usually get is, “but everyone knows that antibiotic means antibacterial, plus the medical community has been misusing it for years, and it would be a pain to change.” For all the billions of dollars that are spent on public awareness programs and development of new antibacterials worldwide, a virtually  cost-free switch to a more explicit naming scheme for anti-infectives should be a no brainer. Come on, folks, give it a try.

At the very least, if you poll people about the specificity of antibacterials, try asking, “Are antibacterials effective for treating viral infections?” I’d wager that the percentage saying, “yes” would be about 3%, not 36%.

If you’re on board, here’s printable version of this post’s graphic to print for your patient waiting room: antibiotic-wall-chart (PDF).  Patients who are gearing up to ask for antibacterials will be 90% less hostile when you say “no.” OK, I made up that 90%. You can also leave a stack 8 1/2 x 11″ versions on the counter along with a box of Crayons for the little ones.  Can’t start too soon in fighting ignorance.