Viuda Negra


Ask almost anyone in the United States or Mexico what is the most dangerous spider native to their region and they will more than likely give you the same answer. In Spanish it is called “viuda negra,” which sounds only slightly more ominous than the English translation “black widow,” so named for the female’s habit of consuming the male after mating has taken place, although in reality this is not a chief goal nor is it efficiently accomplished most of the time. Still, the ominous name has struck terror in the hearts of arachnophobes wherever this spider occurs.

fullsizeoutput_c3dAll danger aside, the black widow (Latrodectus mactans) is one of our most beautiful spiders. While the male is a small, thin, spindly-legged, rather dull-colored fellow (a trait atypical in nature, which more commonly favors the male’s gaudy, eye-catching mating display characteristics to the female’s drab one), a female black widow is a gorgeous creature, with an ebony colored body so shiny it reflects light from its almost mirrored surface. The entire animal is black, from the abdomen and cephalothorax to the eight segmented legs. The underside bears some sort of vermillion hourglass shape, its degree of symmetry dependent on species (yes, there are several species of widow). Even the immature stages of this remarkable animal are amazingly patterned, the tear-drop shaped abdomen striped in alternating vertical bands of silver, yellow, and crimson. Occasionally the female retains this early instar coloration, which makes for one very recognizable spider that looks as if it could have crawled from an abstract work of art.

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An adult that retained juvenile coloration

Black widow spiders, for all their eye-catching beauty, possess a nasty reputation that, at least in my opinion, is largely undeserved. This is due largely to their virulent venom, which is a particularly potent cocktail of neurotoxins that hijack the central nervous system, causing little initial pain but later producing a wide range of symptoms, from chills, nausea, and vomiting to intense abdominal cramps, tremors, and – in extremely rare cases – death. Drop for drop, the venom of this potentially dangerous species has been said to be approximately fifteen times more virulent than that of a rattlesnake, although the tiny fangs and equally minuscule venom glands ensure that only a minute fraction of venom is delivered with a single bite. Nevertheless, when one compares liquid volume to human body weight, there is no arguing the fact that these spiders are not to be handled carelessly.

Luckily, the black widow spider is a shy, retiring species that spends the majority of its life on the web and not actively pursuing its prey on the ground, which would bring it into closer accidental contact with people. Although they have been credited as being wildly aggressive spiders, I have not found this to be the case in the field. In 2007 I had the good pleasure of working alongside Mark Neuling, a collector of exotic spiders and other arachnids, as he unloaded several crates of imported stock from Vietnam and Thailand. It was here that I was introduced to the cobalt blue spider (Haplopelma lividum) a stunning, dark tarantula (Mark would argue that it was technically not a tarantula, for reasons I can’t remember) with a dark blue sheen over its body that hails from the humid jungles of the far east. Mark warned me not to get my fingers too close to this species, as they were “super-aggressive.” As we began to unload them from their containers, which were old film vials (don’t ask me how they got them in such a small, tight space) I was taken aback at the ferocity of these big arachnids, which are about the size of our own Texas native tarantula, Aphonopelma hentzi. The spider, after being coaxed from its plastic “burrow,” would immediately dash toward the forceps and attack it, forelegs raised in the classic perturbed spider stance. It would then proceed to throw itself at the instrument, and the immense, dog-toenail fangs made audible grinding noises as they ground at the stainless steel, seeking a point of entry. One careless coworker was bitten after shirking Mark’s warning, and if you have never seen a grown man cry from a spider bite it is not a pretty sight. After the pain and shock wore off, the 270 lb. 6’3” former macho man described the pain as being not unlike having someone bring a ball peen hammer down on your thumb as hard as they could smack it. Indeed, the cobalt blue is a truly aggressive spider, and makes the black widow look like a guest appearance on Sesame Street in comparison.

This in no way means that widows should be treated with indifference. A grain of good sense and caution is never without merit when in the company of any potentially dangerous organism, especially man, but I won’t go there for now. In my own personal experience, the black widow spider is no more or less apt to bite than most of our other native web-building spiders. Two examples of supporting evidence come to mind in regards to their general placidity.

In the summer days immediately following my graduation from high school, I took a job working in an aluminum welding shop. One morning, after putting on my welding helmet and pulling it down over my face, I felt a tickling sensation that traversed from one corner of my forehead to the opposite side of my chin, around the back of my neck, then up in the opposite direction along the same path. I largely ignored this, concentrating on the task at hand and chalking it up to a stray lock of hair (my hair was shoulder-length) blown across my face by the constant expulsion of argon/oxygen gas emanating from the barrel of the welding gun, but the annoyance became so persistent that I eventually took off my helmet and looked inside. There, in the crown, a young female widow had constructed her tell-tale messy web, a non-uniform maze work of irregular diagonal lines criss-crossing each other in all directions. I immediately brushed my hair out onto the table, where the offending spider promptly fell out and was taken and released as a reward for her kindness.

On another occasion, a decade later, my then three-year-old son came running up to me with a small jar, proudly brandishing the “pretty spider” he had caught in the closet. One could imagine my alarm when I took the jar and looked in at a black widow, which had already constructed a web within the confines of her new prison. My concern grew when I inquired as to how he had managed to get the spider into the jar and he replied, “Oh, it was a nice spider. I scooped it up in my hand and it ran right into the jar.” And so goes the trials and errors of parenting, followed by a sit-down lecture on warning colors and toxicology and a concluding explanation as to why we never pick up things we can’t identify. It must have stuck, because to this day my now eight-year-old son has never picked up another black widow, although after the incident it quickly became his “favorite spider.”

While I have never personally been bitten by a widow, I have known people who have. My own uncle was bitten in a very inconvenient place on his body in a port-a-potty, although he played it smart and made a quick trip to the hospital, where he was monitored for a time before being declared none the worse for wear. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for the poor coworker who drew the short straw and was given the inglorious task of extracting the spider from the toilet bowl so the doctor could properly identify it.

On another occasion the man that reads our water meter was bitten on the finger by a widow, which found the consistently dark, damp, insect-rich rectangular burrow with the custom plastic roof much to its liking. I couldn’t have been more than nine or ten at the time, but my reputation for all things “buggy” must have preceded me, because he rang the doorbell and asked if I could come tell him what kind of spider had bitten him. Sure enough, there she sat on her messy silken throne, which she had spun from one end of the meter to the other. Two plump white egg cases, round as marbles, were fixed just above the meter gage. While not aggressive, mother widows have been known to defend their egg sacs, and such was most likely the case here. After confirming the poor guy’s worst fears, I assured him he wasn’t going to die and suggested he call it an early day and head for the E.R.

These experiences and then some have led me to a rather benign opinion of the viuda negra, and I have since become rather complacent to the presence of this often abundant arachnid, although I do treat them with a great deal of respect. It should be noted that only the female widows are capable of envenomating man, and the male’s danger potential is virtually nil.

Black widows are year-round residents of just about every type of habitat one can imagine throughout most of the state. One of the most common places they frequent are the upper eaves of houses, where their presence causes much concern for homeowners. In my pest control days I received many requests to rid otherwise happy homes of these conspicuous spiders, and no amount of scientific explanation as to their timidity, reclusiveness, and beneficial nature could convince them otherwise. I, on the other hand, employ upwards of a dozen black widows each summer around the eave corners and weep-holes of my own dwelling, where they have never bothered me and doubtlessly help to eradicate countless flies, mosquitos, and other pests.

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Even vertebrate animals like this lizard can fall prey to a widow

In the late summer, female black widows become fat with eggs, and lay their marble- sized round white egg sacs in the far back corners of their webs. These usually number two to three, although one is not uncommon and I have seen as many as four in a single web. As was mentioned earlier, the female does become rather protective of her future progeny, although anyone dumb enough to reach into the web of a living black widow spider and attempt to kidnap her babies deserves what they get in my opinion. The young hatch soon after, and are miniature replicas of the adults in shape and form, although they are almost translucent in color except when viewed under the magnification of a hand lens, whereupon the faded stripes that will signify their first few instars become visible. At least one person I have talked to has given credit to hallucinogenic properties of black widow spider venom, which they discovered only after accidentally ingesting several newborn black widows. Exactly how (or why, for that matter) they were ingested is beyond me and (again speaking strictly from personal opinion) if you have to go that far to get a trip you have bigger problems than baby black widows run amok in your house.

In conclusion, the black widow spider is a colorful and beneficial member of our local invertebrate fauna. Studies have shown that juvenile black widows are an important consumer of the red imported fire ant, although the actual depth of their benefit in this regard remains in question. After all, how many spiders does it take to significantly reduce the fire ant population, and does one want that many widows around? In any event, the viuda negra, when left undisturbed, is a fairly harmless denizen of our fields, woods, and even our own back yards. It can be observed in almost any season, although the peak of abundance occurs May through October. I never kill the widows around my own house, as they have yet to give me the slightest reason to. With any luck this frowned-upon species with the notoriously bad reputation will continue to coexist alongside our own for ages to come.

Resources

DesertUSA. Black Widow Spiders. http://www.desertusa.com/insects/black-widow-spider.html

Evans, A.V. 2008. National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Insects and Spiders & Related Species of North America. Sterling Publishing

Jackman, J.A. 1999. A Field Guide to Spiders & Scorpions of Texas. Gulf Publishing

The Life of a Pond at Sunset

Since reading David Haskell’s The Forest Unseen (2012), I have wondered what it would be like to do something like he did, visiting a particular spot regularly for a year and seeing what it might reveal. January is an opportune time to begin a project like that, and on January 22nd I took what might be the first step. I spent the hour before sunset at a pond at Southwest Nature Preserve. It is the most secluded of several ponds, mostly surrounded by oak woodlands and a narrow strip of little bluestem standing in clumps near the water. In January, the dormant bunches of this native grass are brushed with a rusty hue, but during the growing season it is a lovely bluish-green.

When I emerged from the woods, a duck that had been on the pond took flight. So much for being able to observe without disturbing anything! I took a seat beside the bare trunk and branches of a willow, and looked over the pond. It was 5:00pm, toward the end of a sunny, windy day that had seen the temperature reach 64°F, and I was not surprised to see a turtle’s head rise above the surface some distance out in the pond. Although I could not make out the pattern on the head, this was probably a red-eared slider, a pond turtle that is active year round when it is sunny and the temperatures are even a little mild. I continued to watch the pond, and noticed a swirling disturbance race along below the surface for twenty or more feet. It would be wonderful to peek below the surface and see the fish that caused this. No doubt some drama was unfolding, maybe a territorial dispute or perhaps a predatory chase.

I continued to sit and watch, and became restless to see what was happening further along the pond’s margin. I was not sure I wanted to give in to this restlessness. I’ve spent years in the field on the move, down this path and along that stream, but I suspect that a lot can be learned by sitting for an extended time and watching, and letting the life of a place resume as we become still. That was certainly part of the plan for David Haskell, who chose a spot about a meter across, and observed it with minimal interference, looking for worlds within worlds, and clues that told much larger stories.

Nevertheless, I took a brief walk halfway around the pond, in the process spooking several Blanchard’s cricket frogs that hopped to some place of concealment in bits of dead vegetation, or else into the water to dig in along the bottom and remain hidden. These little frogs are common throughout the cross timbers wherever there are streams, ponds, or marshes, and they remain active year ‘round. In truly cold spells, they dig in where they are protected from freezing, but with the first mild, sunny day, they emerge again to ambush whatever tiny invertebrates that may also be defying the winter.

fullsizeoutput_c1bHalfway under the shelter of a downed branch, I saw a couple of mushrooms. Their orange-amber caps balanced delicately on tender stalks, the fruiting bodies of a much larger fungus that extends through the soil and decaying wood. In fact, these tendrils of fungus in the soil have worked out an amazing deal with the majority of green plants, in which the fungus helps deliver soil nutrients to the plant, while the plant’s roots provide sugars to the fungus. This symbiosis between fungus and plant is called a “mycorrhiza,” and the success of the plants that grow in the ground may depend on this mutually-beneficial partnership with fungi. (If you’d like to dive deeply into the subject of fungi and mycorrhiza, check out MykoWeb.) Meanwhile, back to the above-ground part of the fungus, I took a photo of a mushroom, on the chance that someone could identify it for me. However, there are few mycologists around and even the citizen-science site iNaturalist cannot always help you identify mushrooms from a photo.

Back beside my willow, settling in on a camp stool, I saw first one and then another turtle head above the water. Once again, I imagined how it would be to peer beneath the surface and identify these chelonians. And then I heard a quick “cheet” above me in the willow’s branches, and looked up to see a small nondescript bird there. At least, the little feathered critter seemed pretty nondescript to me, because I have never developed much in the way of birding skills. It seemed to have enough gray to be a junco, but I was not sure. I watched it and a couple of others fly back and forth between trees, often twisting and dropping mid-flight, as if catching insects. That made some sense, as it had a small, pointed bill, unlike the heavier beaks I associate with birds that primarily eat seeds.

img_0007The sun touched the horizon, and soon the activity at the pond dropped off. As the light faded, birds were nowhere to be seen, and I saw no more turtles, either. It was time to go; the hour had passed quickly. I headed back over the ridge and made my way through the woods, looking forward to another visit to this pond.

Haskell, David G. (2012) The forest unseen. NY: Viking Penguin.

An Unexpected Winter Visitor

It was a cold and rainy Sunday last weekend, one of the type that seems to invoke a twinge of seasonal depression into all but the most optimistic of souls. Grey clouds with swollen bellies hung overhead like a pod of whales, inhibiting even the thought of sunshine and driving both herp and herper deep within the confines of some warm, cozy place to await the coming of spring, which at this point feels as if it will never arrive.

It was in just such a position I found myself when a most unusual thing happened. I had a cup of black coffee in my hand and a playoff game in front of me and was contemplating a second bowl of soup. Snakes were the furthest thing from my mind, which in itself is atypical. My wife and my mother were headed out the back door for the grocery store, and had just announced it, when the door creaked and two female voices called out simultaneously, “There’s a snake!”

I am still not sure as to the physics behind how I went from a relaxed sitting position on the couch with one hand balancing my coffee to a dead run for the back door. Football and prescription strength coffee and all the other unnecessary winter evils disintegrated as a rare burst of January snake adrenaline flooded my brain.

Of course, had my frostbitten brain been thawed out sufficiently, it would have quickly come to the conclusion that the snake in question wouldn’t be traveling at a high rate of speed, with the mercury sitting at a torpid fifty-one degrees and dropping, and with darts of stinging rain pelting in from a northern wind that seemed to be blowing in at a forty five degree angle. So why the rush? Old habits die hard, I suppose…

Sure enough, there he lay. It was a juvenile Texas rat snake (excuse me, western rat snake, for those few and proud who care; like I say, old habits and all). And what a poor and pitiful, bedraggled fellow he was! I could only see about eight inches of his head and forebody, for the posterior end of him was still in the hollow of the metal door frame, with his tail somewhere above him. The most logical explanation would be that he had been stowed away as a freeloading tenant somewhere in the comparatively warm hibernatory confines of the attic, and had ventured down to get a drink, for he appeared slightly dehydrated.CK-TXrat-January

I knelt down close to the familiar little winter-stratus-cloud grey & leafless-bark-brown blotched serpent with the chocolate line between his eyes and asked him just what he thought he was doing on such a cold and rainy Sunday undeserving of the company of snakes. To which he responded in typical obsoletus fashion by throwing wide his mouth, although in his amorphous-like state it looked more like a yawn.

“Yeah, I know how you feel,” I told him. “Looks like two more days of this dreary stuff. Not to mention it’s only mid-January. I don’t know how long you’ve been asleep.” To which he responded by turning back over himself and slithering back up inside the door frame, probably before we could discuss a rental agreement. “Stay as long as you like!” I said as I uprighted myself, but then I remembered snakes have no external ear openings, and realized that our conversation had been one-sided.

I turned to go in the house and there sat my mother and wife in the car with the motor running. No doubt they were discussing the woes of a son/husband that talked to snakes in the middle of a winter thunderstorm. I waved sheepishly (my wife would later say ‘creepily’) and turned tail for my own winter hibernaculum, where the coffee had grown cold and the sports commentators were droning on about stats. I wondered if my unexpected winter visitor was having a better time up in the attic. Eventually we both would inevitably doze off, where we would dream of sunshine and green grass and mice and road trips until springtime brought us back to our senses. Perhaps on that day we will meet again, at the threshold of the back door of winter.

The Wet Woods

January 15, Southwest Nature Preserve

fullsizeoutput_c0cCool, dripping days like today help recharge the water beneath the woods. This hill, a knob of iron, sandstone, and clay, draws the rain down into the sandy soil where some of it will emerge one day in seeps near the base of the hill. The preserve supports a nice patch of post oak, blackjack, and juniper, with little bluestem and other grasses standing tall in some of the open areas. Moss grows on many of the rocks that are shaded from summer’s hot and drying sun, and today’s mist and fog brought much-needed moisture.fullsizeoutput_c0d

fullsizeoutput_c10Wherever an oak branch has died or broken off, lichens set to work, covering the surfaces and ultimately helping return the wood to the soil. Many of the lichens I have seen in the cross timbers are the ruffled, greenish-gray variety, along with some of the branching yellowish ones with tiny cups of yellow-orange. These always remind me of neurons, with the little branches resembling dendrites and the “cups” suggesting the bouton, where the axon of one cell widens and forms a synapse with an adjacent neuron. Lichens are symbiotic partnerships between a fungus and either an algae or a cyanobacteria, and so they may violate our sense that an organism should be either one thing or another.  Lichens are multiple things working together, and they are very tough and resilient. And yet, they manage to be delicate and beautiful, like little abstract sculptures.fullsizeoutput_c15

img_0797The woods today were a study in brown, fawn, sienna, and all the other earth tones. And those colors appeared in a range of shapes and textures, from the fine vertical strokes of bluestem to the dark twists of tree branches. And near the ponds, the dried remains of last year’s flowers were beautiful still-life artworks for anyone who stopped to notice. I was fortunate to be able to come here today, even for a short while.fullsizeoutput_c11

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Beetle Bomb

It was Wednesday morning and I was already running late to my kinesiology class. The thermometer stood at a fairly frigid (for a Texan) thirty-seven degrees. As I made my way across the campus by way of a sidewalk, my eyes fell upon a shiny purplish-copper-black beetle that was lying torpid on the pavement. I had very few specimens of the ground beetle Diplocheila striatopunctata, which unfortunately goes by no simpler name. Ever the opportunist when it comes to my coleopteran collection, I picked it up, placed it in the top front pocket of my jacket, and proceeded to class. Everything went well until the sudden indoor temperature spike activated the ectothermic beetle’s system, and it began to move. As it did, it struggled against the confines of the wrinkled jacket pocket, and must have come to the conclusion that it had been trapped by some malevolent beast, for indeed it had. A noxious acrid odor suddenly burst forth, emanating from somewhere just below the realm of my nose, permeating the air around me until it was almost unbearable. While I am no stranger to the chemical defensive habits of the beetles in the family Carabidae, I could not recollect the odor from this species being so strong. My nose instantly began to burn, followed by a watering of the eyes. Absent-mindedly I reached my hand into my jacket to make sure the offending insect was still inside, and upon doing so succeeded in gathering a generous acidic coating of the same chemical warfare on my fingertips. Of course, when I pulled my hand out the smell in the immediate vicinity intensified, transferring itself to my pencil, book, and everything else it came into contact with. Noses began to curl. Confused, offended murmurs were exchanged between neighboring students within the fall-out range of the beetle bomb. No one could seem to locate the source, at least not initially, although the girl sitting next to me seemed to be putting the pieces together. Whatever this foreign, blisteringly potent foul cocktail was, it seemed to be emanating from the long-haired nerd with the beetle tattoos on his forearms. A nervous glance occasionally shifted in my direction, suggesting the fear of contagion, followed by an intentionally casual, gradual sliding away of the chairs to the left and right of me. So what was I to do? I suppose I could have excused myself from the classroom and disposed of the beetle, but it was a fine specimen and I didn’t see much sense in sacrificing it due to my ostracism by a classroom of college kids. I could have taken the beetle out and explained the situation to those to whom it might concern, but in all honesty I was having too much fun. The exotic, highly disturbing defensive spray was so unusual, so alien and unidentifiable to my peers that keeping them paranoid and guessing was a sudden tyrannical impulse I could not resist. It may suffice to mention at this point that I am not easily embarrassed. So the beetle stayed, the classroom stank, and everyone patiently awaited the clock.

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Diplocheila striatopunctata, the beetle bomb of the kinesiology class

The beetle family Carabidae is a huge, diverse group of beetles, with 40,000 known species worldwide, 2,000 of which are native to North America, ranking them among the ten largest animal families on earth. They are habitat generalists, occupying almost every type of biome within their vast range except the harshest of deserts.

Ground beetles are, with few exceptions, predatory insects, preying on a variety of invertebrates. This makes them beneficial to agriculture, as their general abundance, coupled with their voracity, aid man in the elimination of such crop pests as army worms and grasshoppers. Other species, such as the boat-backed ground beetle (Scaphinotus), are specialized feeders of snails and berries.

Ground beetles come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes, from the tiny Chlaenius, to the multi-hued, shiny metallic jewel known as the fiery searcher (Calosoma scrutator). Others, such as the fighting ground beetle (Pasimachus viridans) possess oversized formidable mandibles that, as I can also attest personally, can deliver a painful nip. The black caterpillar hunter (Calosoma sayi) is another coleopteran gem, bedecked in a densely punctate, grooved coppery metallic elytra aligned with symmetrical rows of copper-colored dots that appear to have been applied by a fine tip brush.

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Chlaenius sp.

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Pasimachus viridans, the fighting ground beetle

One thing almost all ground beetles have in common is their chemical defense system, which the lowly Diplocheila revealed to my kinesiology class. While this varies by species in chemical composition and degree of potency, these living stink bombs are well-known by entomologists. When disturbed by a predator (or seized between two fingers by an unscrupulous insect collector) a combination of exocrine gland secretions in the lower back of the abdomen jet out a fine mist of an atrocious concoction through a pair of glands called pygidials. This almost always grants the beetle its immediate release. These secretions vary greatly in toxicity, from noxious to caustic. One species in particular, the bombardier beetle (Brachinus sp.) uses a combination of rapidly decomposing hydrogen peroxide and water converted to oxygen through a boiling process, causing hydroquinone molecules in the beetle’s abdomen to oxidize into benzoquiones. The result is an irritating substance that can literally cause mild chemical burns on human skin, and can even stun, blind, or kill lizards, frogs, and small mammals.

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Bombardier beetle

The number of different chemical compounds used among the multitudinous species of ground beetles is astonishing. In the genus Calosoma alone researchers have identified eleven different ones, including methacrylic acid, salicylaldehyde, and propanoic acid.

Perhaps no one better to testify to the validity of this defensive arsenal than one James Smith, a coworker and personal friend of mine who also happens to be a mildly interested insect observer and beer connoisseur. On one particularly indulgent night of connisseuring, he took it upon himself to go where no entomologist, professional or amateur, has gone before. He taste-tested a Calosoma scrutator.

The experiment started and ended in a few befouled moments beneath Jimmy’s porch light on a hot summer night. He had been entertaining friends around the cooler when a conversation-pausing resonant buzzing hummed into the midst of their circle like an enemy fighter jet, landing with a distinctive splat against the wall to his right. Without further ado, Jimmy seized his chance. He closed his fingers around the beetle before it could scamper away and popped it into his mouth before his better judgment could convince him otherwise. It was a tragic mistake as the entire interior of his mouth went numb, followed by a bitter, choking taste that drowned out all other thought except to retch and spit and contain the urge to gnaw the very arm of the lawn chair he was sitting in. The taste lingered for hours, and no amount of his friend’s recommended fermented hop wash treatment could subdue it, although he “tried his damnedest.”

Fiery searcher

Fiery searcher, Calosoma scrutator

A similar incident was recorded by the late, great evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin, who was also an obsessive beetle collector. In a letter of correspondence between him and Leonard Jenyns in 1846, he wrote:

“…under a piece of bark I found two Carabi and caught one in each hand, when lo and behold I saw a sacred Panageus crux major; I could not bear to give up either of my Carabi, and to lose Panageas was out of the question, so that in despair I gently seized one of the Carabi between my teeth, when to my unspeakable disgust and pain the little inconsiderate beast squirted his acid down my throat and I lost both Carabi and Panageas!”

Ground beetles are among the most common of insects, and thus some of the most easily studied. Their color spectrum-encompassing coloration and depth of diversity make them favorites of many coleopterists, and their stunning defensive chemical concoctions, delivered in the form of bombs, gases and blinding sprays, have long intrigued chemists and surprised first-time collectors. I know a certain kinesiology class that will never be the same.

Resources:

Capinera, J.L.  Encyclopedia of Entomology (online)

Eaton, E.R., and Kaufman, K. 2007. Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America.
Boston: Houghton Mifflin

Entomologist’s Diary. The Little Bombardier. www.entomologistsdiaryblog.com

Evans, A.V. 2014. Beetles of Eastern North America. Princeton University Press.

Linda Hall Library. Scientist of the Day-Leonard Jenyns.  http://www.lindahall.org/leonard-jenyns/