Tag: sciencesunday

Photography Challenge Day 155: The household pest, the house fly

So the winner of today’s photography challenge is actually the common household pest—the house fly. I took a picture of this one outside, when I was sitting on the patio this morning. What caught my attention is it’s coloring—unlike the other flies that were being pests, this one (was still being a pest), but had a white body instead of the darker colored body that the other flies sported.

A white/black housefly in the backyard

Seeing this fruit fly, took me back to my high school genetics class, where we actually had to cross two flies and keep track of the progeny. We learned how to determine male from female flies (before they hatched from the pupa stage), so that we could separate them. Then we would do crosses, check the sexes, separate and look for specific traits (such as body color, eye color, and wing shape).

Just for those three traits, this particular fly has the recessive markers for body color (since it is white and not a darker color; and I’d assume the darker color is more dominant as I hardly see lightly colored house flies), but managed to get the dominant markers for eye color (as red eyes are more common), and the wings look normal (not curled, or thin).

So flies are pests (but can should be considered a semi-beneficial pest). They do help recycle organic matter, but can also transmit diseases as well—this along with their flying around being obnoxious is the reason why they’re considered pests. They are also one of the most widespread insects, as they can basically be found almost anyplace humans are.

They have at least a four week life cycle, and the female can lay up to 500 eggs in her lifetime. The life cycle of a house fly goes from egg to larvae (this stage is ~2 weeks, though can be as long as a month if eggs laid in cooler climates or cold front comes through) to pupae (this stage is 2-6 days, though again can go longer if the temperatures are cooler), then finally the adult. The life span of the adult is anywhere from two weeks to a month.

So this week’s theme for the photography challenge may be insects, or oddly colored objects??

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Photography Challenge Day 147: The dew drops and the fungi

So I’m still trying to decide on the next theme for a week of the photography challenge. I have some ideas–but I need to make sure that I can either a) get a picture within the theme at some point during the day, or b) I have several pictures already (that I hopefully haven’t shared) on my computer.

Therefore today’s photography challenge winner is one of the tiny mushrooms that pop up every so often–and if you aren’t looking for them, you’ll miss them.

Tiny mushroom hiding in the grass.

Though the humidity was high enough that I managed to catch some dew drops as well before they disappeared. These little guys seem to pop up after rain, and then quickly disappear.

Since I’m not an expert at identify most fungi (I’m pretty good at identifying oyster mushrooms and toad stools), I’m not to going to even try to guess what this one. While I’ve shared some other fungi pictures earlier, I don’t think that these are the same type. The only thing that the two have in common–is that they’re small.

This one was growing by itself, and the others I saw as a small grouping. I know that I could get even more pictures of mushrooms/fungi if I started going out to the area lakes and walking some of the trails. My main thing against that are the ticks–they’re numerous in Oklahoma, and I’ve developed allergic reaction to them even crawling on me. Once I find some new long/breathable leggings, and a hiking partner (or two)–I’ll probably try it. For now, my mushroom watching will be limited to areas that I know have very few ticks in them.

Fungi are an important part of the local ecosystem–they help decompose things, and recycle nutrients back into the soil. They can also have symbiotic relationships with bacteria, plants, and others.

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Science Sunday: Wasp Nests–Photography Challenge Day 21

Today’s science Sunday post is dedicated to the architecture of a specific group of insects: wasps. On yesterday’s walk I noticed that there was (hopefully) an abandoned wasp nest lying on the ground. I’ve noticed several of these over the months, and have photographed them from a safe distance (just in case there were any stinging residences still present).

Part of a wasp nest lying in the grass

You can see that this was part of a nice size wasp colony since there are numerous “honeycomb” openings on the nest. This paper like structure was built from wood fibers that the wasps collected and chewed in to a pulp and then shaped into the “honeycomb” hexagon. Each opening had the potential of becoming hatching grounds for eggs laid by the queen wasp.

So here are some cool little facts about wasps:

They can come in a variety of color.

Cicada killers are a type of wasp.

They all build nests—which they build from wood fibers that they chew into a pulp.

They are either social (these include yellow jackets and hornets) or solitary (cicada killers as an example).

One of the major benefits of wasps is that they are predators to almost all other insect pests (either food or host for the parasitic larvae of solitary wasps; such as cicada killers), and be used to help control agricultural pests around farms and other areas.

If they sting—they can sting more than once (and it also means that you’ve upset the females as they are the ones with the stingers).

I give all members of the wasp family space in the spring, summer and fall—though I will admit that I’ve swatted at yellow jackets mainly because I want to keep them away from my drinks (or food) when I’m outside during the nice weather. Also there are times when I think cicada killers could use glasses for hunting their prey (I’ve had those things buzz me way to often during the day).

References:

1. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/group/wasps/

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Science Sunday: Photography Challenge Day 14

Today’s double post (photography challenge and science Sunday) is moss.

Moss is one of the more primitive plants, where they don’t have flowers and actually reproduce via spores. There are about twelve thousand species in the group (which scientifically is called the Bryophyta). Though they play an important role in various ecosystems—especially when it comes to erosion control.

It looks like moss……..

I took this picture of moss a few weeks ago on campus, as moss generally grows in the shade and where it’s moist—and we’ve been moist the past couple of weeks with all the snow, ice, and rain we’ve been getting. There is one general area that is fairly shaded and in the path of runoff water that allows for the moss to grow in late winter and early spring.

It may go on my bucket list—getting out into the national parks/forests and getting some more photos of moss in different elevations and areas of the country.

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Science Sunday and photography challenge day 7: Cat’s whiskers

Decided that today was going to be a two for one post: a new photo and then some of the science behind the topic. So I decided for the first double Sunday post, it would be on cat’s whiskers.

Pancakes’ long whiskers around her nose.

Most of us think of the cat’s whiskers as the pointy hairs on their faces (namely around their muzzle), but they can also have on other areas of their bodies such as their ears, around their jaw, and their forelegs. These hairs are actually called vibrissae and are used as sensors in their day-to-day lives.

When a cat brushes up against an object their whiskers allow them to determine the texture of the object, its location, and size—and it doesn’t matter if it’s light or dark around the cat.1 They’re also extremely sensitive, which makes sense if they’re sensory organs and have a higher supply of nerve endings and blood to the area. I know for a fact that my cat doesn’t like to drink from the water bowl if it’s too low as it presses against her whiskers.

They can also serve as one of the many emotional barometers for cats (along with ear and tail positioning).  For example in the picture, Pancakes’s whiskers were standing out sideways, meaning she was relaxed (and totally use to me taking pictures of her—though she was still giving me a dirty look—probably for waking her up). Though if the cat pushes their whiskers forward this could mean they’re excited, and if they’re flat back against the their cheeks, it mean they’re scared or extremely irritated.2

Have you paid attention to the directions of your cat’s whiskers?? How often are they forward or flat against their cheeks?

References:

  1. https://www.livescience.com/44196-why-do-cats-have-whiskers.html
  2.  https://www.catster.com/cats-101/cat-whiskers-facts
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