nubbsgalore:

every autumn, tens of millions of monarch butterflies travel to their ancestral winter roosts in mexico’s mountain fir forests, coating the trunks of the trees in the orange of their wings, and causing the branches to droop under their collective weight.

surfing winds from southern canada and the northern united states, and taking directional cues from the sun and magnetic poles, they travel 4,500 kilometres over two months to reach their hibernation grounds — a feat that still remains a bit of a mystery, but which has been going on for millions of years. 

interestingly, the autumn migration south is accomplished in one generation, which lives for about seven months, while the spring migration north is done over three generations, each living about six weeks.

last year’s migration, however, was the lowest on record, as excessive herbicide usage has reduced the supply of the milkweed plant which the monarch larvae rely on to feed, and which makes the monarch caterpillars toxic to predators. but the plant is now being destroyed from heavy use of roundup ready pesticides used in soy and corn crop production. 

further complicating matters for the monarch is climate change, as drought along their migratory route has exacerbated milkweed decline, and colder spring temperatures has meant the temperature-sensitive cold-blooded butterflies are unable to begin their journey north.

and once they reach their hibernation sites in mexico, the butterflies, which rely on a thick forest canopy for protection from the cold and rain, encounter deteriorating forests from illegal logging.

experts, however, are hopeful that this year’s migration will double or triple, thanks in large part to the conservation efforts of the mexican government. nevertheless, this increase would still put monarch numbers at one tenth of their record high of one billion.

photos by (click pic) joel sartore, paul bettings, lincoln brower, thomas d mengelsen, and ingo arndt

Reblogged from silly-little-science

libutron:

Moth - Creatonotos gangis
What you see in this photo is a male of Creatonotos gangis (Arctiidae), a species of Asian moth, showing his expanded pheromone diffuser structures at the tip of the abdomen (called coremata and androconia). The four coremata are reversible, each when inflated may be longer than the abdomen.
Females pheromonally attract males from long distances, however, when the male is close enough to begin his courtship, he inflates his coremata with air or hemolymph to evert externally from the abdomen and fans pheromones of his own towards the female.
This species of moth is found over much of south-east Asia, as well as in Australia.
References: [1] - [2] - [3]
Photo credit: ©Darren5907 | Locality: unknown (2009)

libutron:

Moth - Creatonotos gangis

What you see in this photo is a male of Creatonotos gangis (Arctiidae), a species of Asian moth, showing his expanded pheromone diffuser structures at the tip of the abdomen (called coremata and androconia). The four coremata are reversible, each when inflated may be longer than the abdomen.

Females pheromonally attract males from long distances, however, when the male is close enough to begin his courtship, he inflates his coremata with air or hemolymph to evert externally from the abdomen and fans pheromones of his own towards the female.

This species of moth is found over much of south-east Asia, as well as in Australia.

References: [1] - [2] - [3]

Photo credit: ©Darren5907 | Locality: unknown (2009)

Reblogged from whatthefauna

rhamphotheca:

RACING EXTINCTION:

From the filmmakers of “The Cove,” a beautiful short about saving endangered species

Utilizing state-of-the-art equipment, Oscar®-winner Louie Psihoyos (The Cove) assembles a team of artists and activists intent on showing the world never-before-seen images that expose issues of endangered species and mass extinction.

Whether infiltrating notorious black markets with guerilla-style tactics or exploring the scientific causes affecting changes to the environment, “Racing Extinction” will change the way we see the world and our role within it.

Coming in 2015.

(via: )

libutron:

Sea Apple - Pseudocolochirus violaceus

It may not seem much an apple, nor a cucumber, but these are colorful sea cucumbers commonly known as Sea Apples belonging to the species Pseudocolochirus violaceus (Holothuroidea - Dendrochirotida - Cucumariidae), which occurs in the Indian Ocean and the western part of the Pacific Ocean.

Sea apples are about 18 cm long. They usually are purple, but also can be blue, red, white, and yellow. Three rows of tube feet run along the bottom side of the animal. The top side has two rows of tube feet as well as small scattered tube feet. The body is curved so that the mouth and anus point upward. They have ten tentacles which are bushy purple to red and have white tips. The pieces of the body wall skeleton are rounded, smooth plates with a few holes.

When relaxed, the normal shape is short and sausage-like as with most other sea cucumbers. When stressed, however, it may inflate itself into a large round ball. 

Sea apples live partly hidden to fully exposed with tentacles expanded, even during the day. They feed continuously, capturing large food particles with outstretched branching tentacles that are lightly coated in mucus. 

These beautiful sea cucumbers unfortunately are harvested for the aquarium trade. Ironically, they do not make good aquarium specimens as they are often toxic to their tank mates. 

References: [1] - [2] - [3]

Photo credit: [Top: ©René Cazalens | Locality: Komodo, Indonesia, 2010] - [Bottom: ©Chuck and Jean | Locality: Manila Ocean Park, Philippines, 2008]

Reblogged from arrowtongue

chalkandwater:

Mantis shrimp have divided into two distinct groups based on weaponry. 

Smashers have developed hard clubs that they use to crack open hard-shelled prey, while Spearers have long and sharp spines at the tip of their claws for spearing their prey. Both use their weapons with lightning speed, showing that their nickname, “thumb splitters”, is well-earned.

[video]

Reblogged from infectiouslearning

astronomy-to-zoology:

Megarhyssa atrata
…is a species of Giant Ichneumon Wasp (Megarhyssa spp.) which is widely distributed throughout eastern North America, where it occurs in deciduous forests. Adult M. atrata are active from May to July ane are not known to feed. Like other Ichneumon wasps M. atrata are parasitoids of wood-boring insects, with adults using their long ovipositors to pierce tree bark to lay their young in insects inside.
Classification
Animalia-Arthropoda-Insecta-Hymenoptera-Ichnemonoidea-Ichneumonidae-Rhyssinae-Megarhyssa-M. atrata
Image: ©Larry de March

astronomy-to-zoology:

Megarhyssa atrata

…is a species of Giant Ichneumon Wasp (Megarhyssa spp.) which is widely distributed throughout eastern North America, where it occurs in deciduous forests. Adult M. atrata are active from May to July ane are not known to feed. Like other Ichneumon wasps M. atrata are parasitoids of wood-boring insects, with adults using their long ovipositors to pierce tree bark to lay their young in insects inside.

Classification

Animalia-Arthropoda-Insecta-Hymenoptera-Ichnemonoidea-Ichneumonidae-Rhyssinae-Megarhyssa-M. atrata

Image: ©Larry de March

Reblogged from dendroica

sheerdarwinism:

The WWF and the Zoological Society of London have released a new analysis that shows the earth has lost 50% of its vertebrate wildlife in the last 40 years.

This steep decline of vertebrates was calculated by analysing 10,000 populations of more than 3,000 species. The data was then used to create a ‘Living Planet Index’ (LPI), to reflect the state of all 45,000 known species of vertebrates. And the result is this - in the last 40 years, we have managed to kill 50% of all earth’s known vertebrates. And remember, this analysis didn’t include invertebrates, so the total overall loss could be much, much higher.

The fastest declines are in freshwater ecosystems, where numbers have dropped 75% since 1970. Freshwater rivers often represent the end of a system, where effluent often ends up.

The graph above shows the causes of vertebrate decline based on analysis of 3,430 species’ populations. As it stands, we are cutting down trees for soy, timber, and beef faster than they can grow. We are hunting animals faster than they can reproduce. We are pumping water out of rivers faster than rainfall can replenish them. And we are pumping out carbon faster than can be absorbed (and even then, the absorption of carbon dioxide by oceans is another issue).

The photos above show just some of the animals that have been experienced serious declines in the last 40 years. As reported by The Guardian:

David Nussbaum, chief executive of WWF-UK said: “The scale of the destruction highlighted in this report should be a wake-up call for us all. But 2015 – when the countries of the world are due to come together to agree on a new global climate agreement, as well as a set of sustainable development goals – presents us with a unique opportunity to reverse the trends.

“We all – politicians, businesses and people – have an interest, and a responsibility, to act to ensure we protect what we all value: a healthy future for both people and nature.”

Reblogged from dendroica