Circus of the Spineless – Edition #19

Welcome to the 19th edition of Circus of the Spineless!

This month’s theme has to do with discovery.

Almost everything to do with invertebrates involves one or another form of discovery — whether it’s searching for a creature, trying to identify it, or figuring out what it’s doing. After several years of studying and photography invertebrates, barely a day goes by that I don’t learn at least one or two new things — and some days, it’s more like a dozen. I now know just enough to realize that I know virtually no more than a fraction of all there is to learn. Even the most seasoned of entomologists and arachnologists will tell you that there’s plenty of room for exploration and discovery, even right outside in our own backyards. Which brings me around to a couple of items I’d like to mention before sending you on your way to the carnival.

In case you haven’t already heard, Jeremy Bruno at The Voltage Gate has been hard at work organizing the First Annual Blogger Bioblitz. As of March 30th, there were 32 bloggers signed up to bioblitz at least one site in their area. For those unfamiliar with the term, a bioblitz is a species survey of a chosen area over a specified period of time. The area can be as small as a plot in your own backyard surveyed by one or two people, to a tract of land surveyed by a group of avid naturalists. The focus of the blitz can be as wide or narrow as you wish. If you’re a blogger and want to get involved, you can read more about it here. By the way, you *do not* have to be a biologist to bioblitz a chosen area. Anyone equipped with a couple of field guides should be able to conduct at least a simple species survey. Also, there are online guides which can be used for species identification. I’ve begun putting together a collection of Links for IDs, so keep that in mind as one source (it’s small now, but watch for many new entries over the weekend). I believe a few other bloggers will be putting together similar collections over the next couple of weeks.

Another item which should be of particular interest to many of you is Spider WebWatch, a brand new citizen science program. The site has been designed by David Shorthouse, of the Univ. of Alberta, who has also put together the terrific Nearctic Spider Database, and the Canadian Arachnologist sites. If you’re interested in spiders, please do familiarize yourself with all of these sites. David has put an incredible amount of work into all of them and it really shows. This summer, I’ll be posting my observations to the 9 species being tracked on Spider WebWatch, and I hope some of you will do so too. All of the target species are easily identified and found throughout most of North America.

Now, on to the carnival!

The following posts were either submitted by their authors, or were rounded up during recent visits favourite blogs over the past couple of weeks.

* First up, Aydin at Snail’s Tales turned a few rocks in his backyard to uncover a huddle of Slugs ‘n Isopods. I did a little prospecting of my own at Aydin’s blog and turned up another interesting piece on slugs, as well as this post on Leeches and Frogs.

* Romunov has sent a link to a page where he has been keeping a photographic journal of his Snail Project. When you get to the page, be sure to scroll down to the bottom to the “beginning” of the project. Fascinating and the photos are terrific. Great work, Romunov!

* The Neurophilospher describes the recent revelation that some caterpillars click and vomit to fend off predators.

* Susannah at Wanderin’ Weeta has written a super three-part piece on identifying the nebalia that she discovered near her home in B.C. Here are links to all three parts: One, Two, and Three.

* In 2 Years and Finally Identified, Cindy Mead of WoodSong describes a moth that has finally got a name.

* Never one to disappoint when it comes to invertebrates, The Annotated Budak reveals a couple of interesting denizens of his part of the world through his incredible macro photography. Meet a Squash Bug, and the working side of a Cyclosa spider

* At Living the Scientific Life, GrrlScientist reports on the recent capture of a colossal squid in the Antarctic, and of the logistics of preserving this specimen. As well, she has sent along this interesting piece on how Lice provide clues to the evolution of humans.

* Duncan at his Ben Cruachan blog from Australia, takes a day off and sets out to go birding, but plans soon change after an encounter with some handsome odonates.

* Jennifer Forman Orth from the Invasive Species Weblog sent along some good news and some bad news. The good news is that her photograph of a stonefly was recently used to illustrate a newspaper story on Delaware’s new state macroinvertebrate. The bad news is that the Asian Longhorn Beetle has been discovered on Prall’s Island, just off the coast of New York. Xris of Flatbush Gardener followed up with a new report and more bad news of the discovery of Asian Longhorn Beetles on Staten Island.

* At Pharyngula, PZ Myers introduces the lovely and amazing stalk-eyed fly.

* Vicki from A Mark on My Wall provides an illustrated demonstration of how the food chain operates around her place, along with lesson in patience.

* At Creek Running North, Chris Clarke investigates the contents of a pitcher plant and discovers a survivor among the decomposing dead.

* Here at Burning Silo there was plenty of invertebrate activity over the past month. I wrote a piece on Finding Caterpillars, and another on Aquatic Invertebrates. I also presented A Crayfish Primer. Picking up the thread on crayfish, Wayne at Niches followed up with a couple of crayfish posts of his own, here and here.

Reviews – We have a couple of nice ones!

* At 10,000 Birds, Mike Bergin puts his new copy of the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies to the test. Check out his review to see how things worked out.

* Meanwhile, Cindy Mead at WoodSong provides a review of Sir David Attenborough’s Life in the Undergrowth. Sounds like a movie I’d like to see.

And last but not least, some Photos!

* At the The Behavioral Ecology Blog, Matt gives us a great view of a Black Widow, and a Scorpion found right around his place. I like your house guests, Matt!

* KeesKennis sends along a series of photos of one great millipede from Zambia.

* And to wrap up this carnival, Rick from Coral Notes From the Field sent along a couple of photos of a colorful hitchhiker found on a colleague’s shirt while in Papua New Guinea. Apparently, the beetle was masquerading as a decorative pin. However, it blew it’s cover when it began to move (click on image for larger view).

That’s it for this edition of Circus of the Spineless. If you meant to send something in but forgot, it’s never too late. Send me a link and I’ll see if I can work it in. Our APRIL host is Tony at Milk River Blog – this was a last minute arrangement. Tony has had some technical difficulties (bad net connection) this week, so there have been further delays. I’ll post a notice on my blog once COTS is up at Tony’s blog. In the meantime, COTS could use some hosts for the coming months. If you’re interested in hosting an edition, please contact Tony.

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