Sunday, October 14, 2018

HumBug: Creepy, Cute and Unusual

Posted By on Sun, Oct 14, 2018 at 3:00 PM

click to enlarge The business end of the centipede, believed to be Scolopocryptops gracilis, no common name. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • The business end of the centipede, believed to be Scolopocryptops gracilis, no common name.

Looking closely at more crawling critters than most folks, you'd think I'd get used to them. But there is one critter that still holds a Class 4 creep factor for me: the common centipede. If you could cross a spider and a snake, centipedes would be the result. Flexible, fast and venomous — in their world they are a force to be reckoned with.
click to enlarge At about 4 inches long this centipede was just too long for my macro lens. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • At about 4 inches long this centipede was just too long for my macro lens.
The most common and largest I've encountered hereabouts seem to be members of the bark centipede family, Scolopendromorpha. Found under logs, they are brick red, some specimens measure nearly 4 inches long. The "fangs" on the underside of their head, technically called forcipules, are actually highly modified legs complete with venom glands. No known centipede is considered lethal to a healthy adult human and I've never encountered anyone that's been bitten.
While “centipede” translates to “hundred foot,” since adults have an odd number of body segments, and only two feet per segment, it is impossible for any species to have exactly 100 feet.
click to enlarge Mylitta crescent butterfly on Queen Anne's lace. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Mylitta crescent butterfly on Queen Anne's lace.
At the other end of the cuteness scale are the little Mylitta crescent butterflies. I've been seeing a great many of these little guys out and about nectaring on Queen Anne's lace and vigorously defending their territories. This species can have multiple generations in a year and their larvae feed on thistles, altogether a good thing.
click to enlarge Variegated meadowhawk basks in the sun. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Variegated meadowhawk basks in the sun.
Once again the migratory dragonfly, variegated meadowhawk, is gracing our county. I have photographs every winter of this particular species going back to 2010, when I first noticed one on a cold sunny winter day. Surviving frosty nights and temperatures which put windowpane ice on puddles is unusual for what is considered a warm season order of insects.

click to enlarge Variegated meadowhawk photo for positive ID. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Variegated meadowhawk photo for positive ID.
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