Friday, February 28, 2014

Microwolf: The insignificant spec that wasn't.

Maddie Tyson came to me bearing a spec of dust that hurt my eyes to try and focus on. I was quite literally about to brush it off, when it moved... This is the first time that I have encountered the wolf in garbage clothing, that is the larval form of the green lacewing (Chrysopidae).

Well done for finding this super-predator of the micro world Maddie! The reason that this lacewing goes to such length to disguise itself is that it has to avoid the police... in the form of ants, who would keep it from its food source, green aphids. Sometimes the lacewings will glue dead aphids on their backs to avoid the ant patrols that police the aphids to drink their sweet excrement. Yuk! But that's how it works... The aphids suck the plant sap and excrete the sugars that the ants love. The green lacewing larvae try to steal and "aphid sheep" for lunch, and the ants try to keep the lacewing wolves out. What a fascinating world.

Longicorn (Cerambycidae) found by Ms Nikki Jane.

AISM baby gecko in the science department.