Dragonfly & Damselfly – Moving Object Pathway Predictors

First published May 24, 2017 Dragonflies have been around longer than dinosaurs. Except for size, they’ve changed little through time. They’ve gone from a wingspan about the size of an adult shin (between knee and ankle), to palm-sized (stretching between a fully extended thumb and pinky). Evolutionary biologists believe that size reduction is connected with decreased oxygen levels in the …

Miniscule Mountain Beetle Turning Forests Red

First published November 28, 2017 “It’s about the size of a mouse turd,” says Diana Six, Professor of Forest Entomology/Pathology at University of Montana, when describing the Mountain Pine Beetle. Historically, the Mountain Pine Beetle contributed to a healthy forest by eliminating weakened trees, making room for new growth. Cold temperatures kept populations in check, only 20% of larvae would …

Fleas & Disease in the California Gold Rush

First published July 4, 2018 Fleas were a frequent irritant during the California Gold Rush.   Migrants from all over the world transported more than possessions. They also carried parasites and disease. Overcrowded, unclean living conditions were ideal breeding grounds many nasty bugs. Disease such as cholera, tuberculosis, and smallpox was deadly especially for Native American populations with no previous …

Invasive Species Choke Natives

First published June 2, 2018 The California Floristic Province is considered a world biodiversity hotspot. It contains a large number of ecosystems that include alpine forest, mixed evergreen forest, riparian forest, sagebrush steppe, coastal sage scrub, redwood forests and more. Currently, only 25% of the original vegetation remains unharmed. Highly populated and a producer of agriculture products for 50% of the country, California …

Pill Bug – Heavy Metal Detector of the Underworld

First published September 1, 2018 The shrimp sized roly-poly kids love to play with has a night job making soil a nicer place to live…if you’re a plant or microorganism. Also Known As… Doodle bugs, potato bugs, wood shrimp, pill woodlouse, armadillo bug, log-louse, boat-builder (Newfoundland), cheeselog (England), chiggy pig (Devon, England), monkey-peas (Kent, England), and slater (Scotland) these tiny animals are …

Cuckoo Wasp – A Living Jewel

First published May 21, 2017 The Cuckoo wasp is an eye-catching creature that is easy to see. Its brilliant turquoise color is created when light refracts between hollow layers of the exoskeleton. This adaptation makes the stealthy insect virtually invisible when it enters the dark burrows of its prey. The Cuckoo wasp is parasitic. It watches and waits to find …