There are all kinds of cool things about this Chrysomelidae tortoise beetle (Hemisphaerota cyanaea) on the internet, including:
Their capacity to stick to leaves. These bizarre little, herbivorous beetles stick themselves to Saw Palmetto leaves with the help of thousands of setae (hairs) soaked in excreted oil when disturbed by a potential predator.
And look closely… there are POLLEN grains all over the little beetles. Can you imagine having hundreds of sticky bouncy-ball-size pollen grains attached to your body and eyes!? The micro-world of biology is fascinating.
Two common, stream-side spiders at Las Cruces. Trechalea extensa is large and hangs out on boulders, dangling it’s fore-legs in the water at night to potentially attract prey, such as small fish. Patricia Esquete’s student’s, Neola and now Macy, have been studying their ecology the past couple of years.
The other spider, probably a nursery web spider (Pisauridae) like this one from Palo Verde, creates a silken tether on a branch and dangles from it, skating on the moving stream surface and likely capturing floating prey as it moves downstream.
Adrea, a recent PhD graduate from UCLA, is mentoring three students in the NAPIRE program with projects on Ithomiin butterflies—a diverse group of clear-winged, neotropical butterflies that form breeding aggregations and tend to roost together. One of Adrea’s students, Katie, is investigating predation risk of roosting butterflies using models of two species that she’s constructed. Here, Katie checks her model butterflies for damage inflicted by predation attempts on the models.