Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bird Louse

This critter actually came into my possession on December 8, 2010. It is a bird louse. The Central High Plains has quite a large migration of waterfowl this time of year. I tried my hand at waterfowl hunting this year and discovered that it is pretty easy to find lice on ducks. This one was taken from a mallard. I honestly do not know what species this is; there are about 15 species of avian louse. Perhaps it is a species of Anaticola, as these are frequently found on ducks. These lice are not known to transmit any diseases to ducks, but I would guess that a heavy infestation might be irritating.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Not all mites are bad mites.

We maintain a sugarbeet root aphid, Pemphagus betae, colony in my lab. This insect is a pretty important pest of sugarbeets in my area and subterranean aphids are just kind of cool to study. Today, while going through our aphid colony, we found a predatory mite in the act (above). Fortunately for us, we have way more aphids than mites. However, wouldn't it be nice to have these established in the field and feeding on the root aphids attacking our crops? Combined with resistant varieties, these mites could be really beneficial. Maybe they already are beneficial and just have not been recognized as such. I have a student working on various aspects of beneficial insects in our soil. So, maybe in a couple years this mite might be recognized as an untapped resource. However, in the mean time, I just hope it doesn't crash my aphid colony!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Dermestids with a sweet tooth.

Seems like dermestid larvae (the adults are tiny beetles) like chocolate. I guess this chocolate bar was part of a long-forgotten bag of Halloween treats. Dermestids are scavengers, they'll feed on any dry plant or animal material; grain, flour or even skin. (*warning* Don't click previous link if you have a weak stomach.) I knew that some Beatles liked chocolate (i.e., Savoy truffle); however, I didn't know that beetles do too.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mexican bean beetle resistance.

In the lab, at the moment, we are busy screening about 20 edible dry bean varieties, lines, and land races for resistance against the Mexican bean beetle.
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