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I don't think I've ever seen a praying mantis this big! And damn that bugger could fly! She wasn't too pleased about the flash and flew about 40ft over to a shrub.

Also, Mantis religiosa (European praying mantis) is a great scientific name. I love when names refer to something other than the person who found it. Though after putting so much effort into it, I understand someone deciding THAT THERE IS MY ANIMAL, FOREVER AND EVER. SO THERE, SUCK IT, Y'ALL.

Here, another picture to show the size (hey, it's the wee hours of the morning and I am impressed):


Now I fear someone will mention a mantis that is larger than my head that would be a) TERRIFYING b) AWESOMESAUCE.
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So, the herps we find are fascinating, but there's a lot more out there that we get excited about. Fungi, for instance, is fabulous!


If you zoom in on this next photo you can see some of the tiny little insects that were just hanging out in the mushroom.


These fans were actually quite large. This doesn't quite give a sense of size, but they were twice my hand span and from chest level to about 13 ft up the tree.


Then there are other pretty ones like this:


In conclusion, I really need to start studying outside the box of zoology.
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Sometimes you just think nature fucks with you. Despite finding tons last year, I hadn't found a single rough green snake this year. And I've spent hours searching fruitlessly for them. HOURS UPON HOURS.



A little baby green snake! It was just sleeping on some branches, twisted around like a Celtic knot. It wasn't particularly pleased to be woken, but didn't seem too freaked out. And because I am awesome, I was actually the first one to see it.



Gravel Toad

Jul. 2nd, 2010 12:24 am
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I love the coloration of this toad against the road.

asphalt toad, a truly rare species
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The bufo metamorph season is trailing down, at least compared to the southern leopard bonanza. According to Angus, the time of year means the incredibly tiny bufo I find now are likely to be fowleri. Even though this is the second year of seeing them in such concentration for it to be nearly impossibly not to step on them, I still coo over them all.

bufo metamorph
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There is something about toads that always makes them look so disdainfully crotchety. Permanent :{ face.

TOAD: GET OFF MY LAWN. I'd bring out the shotgun if I just had thumbs for the trigger. But you know what TRY ME. In terms of urine, I contain multitudes. >:{
ME: Awwwww lookie the cutie widdle grumpy toad!
ME: Wouldn't this make a great picture of a contemptuous toad?

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This shows the nictitating membrane (transparent 3rd eyelid) over the eye. I've seen anurans close that eyelid when swallowing, but I guess males also do while puffing up. That bright yellow marking inside the thigh is one of my favorite things about this little treefrog. Their cryptic coloration (camouflage to match their surroundings) is amazingly effective. Against a gravel road they are nearly invisible. But, pick them up and there's that bright obvious splash of color. Cope's gray treefrog, also known as southern gray treefrog, Hyla chrysoscelis.



Jun. 22nd, 2010 07:12 pm
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I actually ventured outside in the nature DURING THE DAY today. This is rare since all of my fieldwork is at night. I was rewarded with an excellent find (and the convenience of having someone to hold the snake so I could take pictures). Eastern Hognose snake, Heterodon platirhinos


Possibly a more informative post about this species will follow, but right now it's time to go back out and listen an anuran concert. I'd make deprecating jokes about knowing how to live the high life, but you all know I would be lying.
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I found 5* ticks last night during the regular tick check (record for the season). But I just found a tick in my ear. OBVIOUSLY MUST CHANGE TICKCHECK ROUTINE.

I wish I could undress and check before I get in my car. Woohooo! 1am strip show for drunk teens, insomniac dog walkers, and the police! While I drive home the ticks wander off and then midway through the field season my car becomes infested with ticks. I feel the need to warn people if they get in my car that they should check for ticks when they get out. I drive off to meet friends at a restaurant, and then mid-meal one crawls down my arm and I learn which friends have phobias.

I mostly manage to keep ticks and chiggers out of the house by stripping to my underwear on the front porch when I get home (it's 2am and an enclosed porch?) and tossing the clothes straight into plastic bags or the washer. But sometimes my efforts are in vain. My roommates will be so glad to read this...

In conclusion, TICK CHECK.

*Trust me, I know how lucky this is. Last year we went on a hike up at the Cape through dunes and cranberry bogs. Just walking back on the trail to the car we picked 27 ticks off the two of us. Then we picked another 15 off in the car, and I picked 1 off E.'s forehead and 2 out of her ear during lunch. My sites are like a tick-less mecca in comparison.

ETA: Within the hour after I wrote this I found a tick in my Aikido gear (WTF) and one on the dashboard. Well, this is the 5th month of surveys....
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Why do they love jumping on shoes? For that matter, why do they like jumping under my feet??? My boots that ought to be cleaned (if I were more diligent) and a young southern leopard frog, Rana sphenocephala.

shoe obession crosses species

Such a pretty color. Will have to try to ID later:

Eat me: what's the worst that could happen?