Reader Stephen Barnard in Idaho continues his quest for the perfect picture of a rufous hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus), one so good it could be an illustration in a bird guide. I think he’s close enough.
Every time I look at one of these things, I marvel at what natural selection can do, and I think of how, if we were there at the beginning of life, we’d never predict that a creature like this could evolve, much less be adapted to any lifestyle.
But I digress. Here are two more from Stephen:
Finally, reader Mark Sturtevant continues his experiments in growing the Frankenstein of arthropods:
You may recall that I had photographed a cecropia larva that had molted from the 4th to the 5th instar. [JAC: see earlier post here.] They have now grown to a huge size (with some over 5 inches), and most are in cocoons. My time with these insects is almost over this summer. They will soon no longer need me until next year!
I had set about photographing the process of cocooning, but I had an amusing mishap. When I was just about done documenting the cocooning of this larva, another larva (who I thought was spinning a cocoon elsewhere on the branch) decided to barge in, sit on the cocoon, and start eating leaves again! They do not always commit to making a cocoon once they start, I guess.
Anyway, on a whim I stuck a mature larva of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster on it, and kept on shooting. I use some mutant stocks of Drosophila for a class that I teach. So, can you spot the ‘maggot’? I think this picture provides some sense of scale of different insects. The fruit fly larva is probably not more than 3 mm long.
Well? Can you spot the maggot?