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Pagan: 11 July 2010

September 7, 2010

We had a late start today.  Originally we were supposed to go back to the lake at 0730 to pick up our traps, but we were told that the ATVs had to be serviced, and that our trip to the lake was postponed until after lunch.  It wasn’t really clear whether there was actually something wrong with the ATVs or whether they just decided to do a routine servicing of them that morning.  Whatever the case, the ATVs were not available, so we decided to hike megapode transect #3.  This transect begins at camp and heads south along the coast.  It passes through mostly mixed forest, but there are some occassinal pockets of good native forest.

Looking south along coast from transect #3.

Native forest on transect #3.

Large Spider flushed out from under log.

We stopped in one of the better native forest patches and did some collecting.  We all kind of fanned out and did some general collecting, however, Mike focused on ants and put out some cards with peanut butter on a variety of different tree species.  Mosquitoes were out and biting at this site, so Stephan aspirated a few from our exposed limbs. I caught a few different insects, an interesting ichneumonid (at least that is what it appeared to be), and some tephritid fruit flies, but most of my time was spent hacking at fallen tree limbs looking for termites.  I discovered a few logs with frass, but was never able to find any termites.  Kicking over logs I uncovered quite a few large spiders that looked very similar to the big cane spiders that we have in Hawaii. 

Christa, Justin, and I left a little early (at about 1300) because we wanted a little down time before heading back to the lake.  Mike and Stephan stayed a little later (until 1400 or 1430) and continued collecting.  Christa, Justin, and I ended up leaving for the lake at about 1530.  The hike seemed much easier the second time – not sure if it was because we had already hiked the trail once and knew what to expect, or if it was because we had an easier morning than the day before (i.e. no death march under the noon day sun)  – it was actually kind of pleasant, except for the flies, of course.  Some of the pitfall traps close to the water had some of soil washed away around them, but otherwise all the traps were intact.  We emptied all the traps, packed everything up, and made it back to camp at around 1800.  While we were at the lake, Mike and Stephan collected on a little isthmus near camp called the Bandeera Peninsula.  Stephan caught a few more mosquito larvae from some of the rock pools in that area, and some of them looked like anopholes.  Mike commented that there seemed to a greater diversity of insects in that area compared to the other spots we had collected in.  We did very little sorting that night, but we did have a meeting to discuss our plan of action for the next week.

Pagan: 10 July 2010

August 6, 2010

Did some sorting in the morning, and then hiked one of the megapode transects (transect 1) that skirted the base of what the map called the “Miari Cliff.”  We began on the airfield and headed Southeast toward the lavaflow.  While traversing the airfield we stopped to get the obligatory photo of the old Japanese zero surrounded by bomb craters.  Along the way we also collected whatever insects we happened upon. There appeared to be a couple of grasshopper species that were very common.  There was one species of plant that was doing noticeably well in the grassy field – Curt had told us about this plant earlier – evidently it is an ornamental plant that was introduced to the island at some point, and it is unpalatable to the cows and goats.  There didn’t seem to be any insects on it either.  Since we got a late start, it was extremely hot out in the open sun.  There were a few concrete bunkers in the old airfield as well, and Mike poked around in a few of them. I don’t think he found much, but he did say it was quite cool inside.  At another point we stopped and collected inside one of the larger bomb craters that had a clump of trees growing in it.  I got a couple of species of ants and a few other things that were not very interesting – not sure what the other guys managed to catch. 

Old airfield with Miari Cliff in background.

Lava Flow at end of airfield.Looking back to the West on transect #1.

End of transect #1.

We finally made it to the base of the cliff where there was thin strand of partly native forest.  I believe on our labels we called this “mixed forest” since there was both native and non-native vegetation.  There were a lot of butterflies along trail in this area – Papilio polytes, Hypolimnas bolina, Euploea eunice, and Melanitis leda.  There was aslo a large skipper in the forest that was flitting about – I think we managed to get at least one of these guys.  I got a few lacewings in this area also.  We stopped at various locations along this trail and collected until finally we reached the end of the cliff.  Once the cliff flattened out, we could see the east side of the island, it was pretty cool. We stopped here for rest and had a snack while enjoying the view.  There was an even better looking patch of native forest heading due east from this point, I believe this was Megapode transect #2, however at this point it was getting later in the afternoon so we had to head back to camp (we had scheduled a trip up to the freshwater lake at about 3:00).

We had a very short respite and just a little time to get our stuff together before we had to leave for the freshwater lake.  The freshwater lake was quite a bit further than the saltwater lake, so we were taken up there on ATVs.  Mike was on the back of a red ATV driven by Jess, and Stephan, Christa, Justin and I were all on a larger ATV (one person in the passenger seat and three sitting on a cooler in the back).  It felt great to have a ride and give our legs a rest after our death march earlier that morning.  We were dropped off at the head of the lake trail and had only a couple of hours before we had to be picked up.  The freshwater lake is kind of in a large crater-like area, so we had to hike up and then down into a bowl shaped basin where the lake was.  There was a lot wind coming off the lake once we hiked up to the rim of the bowl and it felt awesome. Once we got down there we really just had time to set up our traps and do only a little collecting before we had to turn around and get back to the trail head for our pick-up.  The lake was really cool – there seemed to be a lot insects near the shore.  There at least one species of damselfly, one species of dragonfly, and a lot of other flying insects.  I was mostly working on getting all the traps set up, but Mike and Stephan managed to also find some subterranean termites in a fallen log.  The hike out of the bowl was not very fun to say the least, but we made it out and got back to our pick-up site a little early.  When the guys on the ATVs showed up, they had brought some beverages with them in a cooler, and they wanted to hang out a bit and do some drinking before driving back to camp.  This took us by surprise – we were all just anxious to get back to camp and have some dinner and call it a day.  Nevertheless, we hung out with the guys for a bit and drank with them.  They brought one Coke, so I shared it with Christa and Stephan.  All of the rest was beer, or, as they called it on Pagan, “painkillers.”  I think they were a little disappointed that 3 out of 5 us didn’t drink and that there were extra beers, but what can you do? After a little chit-chat and painkilling, we loaded up the ATVs and headed back to camp. 

Jess and Mike lead the way.

Mike looking slightly uncomfortable.

Heading back to camp during sunset.

Freshwater Lake (Lake Sanhalom).

Malaise trap on freshwater lake.

The ride back was beautiful, particularly when we drove across the black sand beach by the saltwater lake as the sun was going down.  The only bad thing was that the ATVs didn’t go fast enough to outrun the flies so there was constantly a little cloud of flies around us.  When we arrived at camp, our driver dropped us off at the ento tent, but Mike was not so fortunate.  Jess took Mike on wild ride to chase cattle off of the runway.  They were speeding around after cows with an air horn blaring for what seemed like 20 minutes.  When Mike returned he looked exhausted.  I did not envy him.  That night we did a little more sorting, and we had planned to run the blacklight in camp again, but our battery was not properly charged so we just went to bed.

Pagan: 9 July 2010

July 24, 2010

After about a 2 hour wait on the boat, we were finally shuttled onto the island by small boats.  The guys driving the boats told us the first order of business once we were all on the island was get the big safety brief.  The boats took us right up to shore, but we still had to hop out into ankle deep water on the beach.  Anticipating this, I had my old boots on, but I would have loved to have had some of those Keen water shoes! (Unfortunatley I was not able to find any in my size in Honolulu before I left). 

Boat landing and lower camp area.

Stephan and I were actually in one of the first boats to go ashore, so once we landed we headed up to the main camp, squishing all the way in my wet boots, where we met the camp manager, Tom.  He didn’t introduce himself as the camp manager though, so originally I thought he was a member of one of the science crews that was already on the island.  Upon meeting him, he said that he remembered meeting me once before, but I had no such recollection.  (For whatever reason, this happens to me a lot – I must have a generic face.) He was an older guy, maybe in his late 60’s or early 70’s? I couldn’t really tell, but he was well dressed, sporting a long sleeve safari shirt tucked into matching cargo shorts.  He told us to go ahead and eat some breakfast (by this time it was about 8:00 AM) and pick out our tents. Not realizing he was the camp manager, I stupidly said something about how we were supposed to get the safety brief first. To that he just kind of shrugged and said we might as well eat then so there wouldn’t be a bottleneck at the chow table once everyone got up there and that we should make sure to pick the good tents before they were all spoken for.  It was then that I sensed he was not a clueless biologist, but rather someone who actually knew what he was talking about (I guess I’m a little slow).  So Stephan and I ate breakfast (Spam and rice) and then walked back down to check out the tent situation.  We had been told that a helicopter would be arriving later to lift all the gear off the boat, so we weren’t particularly worried about unloading the stuff, but when we walked back down we saw people hefting the gear from the boats.  I saw some of the marine biologists hoisting my bags up the black sand beach, and I felt like a clod.  Stephan and I had been eating while the other guys were busy unloading all the stuff.  We quickly jumped into the fray to help out and began passing stuff up the beach. The marine biologists had about dozen air tanks that had to carried up, so I was able to atone for my idleness and then some (those tanks were heavy).  Once most of the gear was ashore, there was a bit of a scramble for tents.  I chose one that looked like it was in a good location, not under any coconut trees and in a pretty flat area.  Later I would discover that it was never really under any shade during any part of the day and was very hot, but my choice had been made.  Around that time the helicopter arrived in dramatic fashion – it swooped suddenly around some cliffs over the bay and startled us all.  A little later it began slingloading the bigger supplies off the boat. 

Helicopter in action with volcano spewing smoke in background.

At some point in the morning we finally got the big safety brief which really turned out to be very short.  We were told that one of the crew had been bit by a shark while working on the small boats in about 4 feet of water so we should be extremely careful in the water.  We were also warned about the various ungulates that roamed the island – evidently one of previous scientists accidentally cornered a wild pig in a cave or bunker or something, and it charged him.  Of course, there was also some discussion about the volcano and what to do if it started showing increased activity.  I have to admit it was a little ominous during our brief to see it in the background with a constant plume of white smoke.  After lunch we set up our work area under a tent in the main camp and picked the brains of the plant, bat, small mammal, and herp crews that were leaving that night on the boat.  They told us about the transects that they had been using, where the good forest was, what to watch out for, etc.  We also set up the malaise trap and some pitfall traps near our work area. 

Malaise trap outside Ento tent.

Brackish lake.

Later in the afternoon we walked down to the brackish lake to see what we could collect.  We brought the aquatic net along with our regular collecting gear in hopes of getting something in the lake.  Unfortunately I forgot to bring a pan to dump the net into, so sampling the lake was difficult.  There didn’t appear to be much in there but tilapia anyway.  Justin did catch an adult chironomid near the shore, so maybe there was something in there after all.  It was starting to get a little late, so we began to head back. 

Brackish lake.

Ocean side near brackish lake, looking south towards camp.

Stephan suggested we sample some of the freshwater rock pools along the shore on the way back, so Mike suggested we divide up – someone should go with Stephan along the coast and the rest would head back on the trail we came in on.  The coast seemed a little rugged to me, maybe even impassable in some spots, so I didn’t think this was a great idea.  I said I would go back the way we came, and Christa and Justin didn’t volunteer either, so Mike ended up going back with Stephan along the coast.  We stopped on the way back and did some collecting in the ironwood understory (mostly sword ferns).  The spot we collected in looked like some kind of small rift. We didn’t find anything notable. 

Ironwood forest with sword fern understory.

We ended up getting back before Stephan and Mike, so I had a chance to get in the water before dinner.  Of course, I only got in up to my ankles for fear of sharks, but it felt great. I managed to wallow as best I could in 2 feet of water – I must have looked like an elephant seal.  Dinner ended up being some kind Spam stew – it was really quite tastey.  Mike and Stephan apparently found some cool pools in the rocks and were able to get some mosquito larvae.  I suppose I should have more trust in Mike and maybe not always opt for the safer option.  I had been dealing with a minor headache all evening, probably left over from the hellish boat experience or maybe the result of Bonine overdose, but I was looking forward to bed.  Unfortunately, I slept very little that night because it was incredibly hot and sticky.  There was absolutely no breeze in my tent. I think my tent was oriented in the wrong direction to get the ocean breeze.  Whatever the case, the night was torturous for me.

Pagan: 8 July 2010

July 20, 2010

We were told to be at the marina and ready to board the boat at 4:00 PM.  Figuring out the logistics of running last minute errands, geting our stuff together, checking out of the the Hyatt, returning the rental cars, and then getting transportation back to the marina proved very daunting, but somehow it all worked out.  At one point we were a little worried because Mike had split off with Justin to continue his quest for the perfect empanada (I think he is working on some kind of catalogue of empanadas of the Mariana Islands), and it was getting near 4:00 and there was still no sign of them at Budget Rent-a-car.  In usual fashion, he rolled up just in time, and all was well with even a few minutes to spare. 

I wasn’t exactly sure what I envisioned our boat to Pagan would look like, but it is pretty safe to say that the Micronesian was not really close in appearance to any of the vessels that my mind had conjured up.  It did seem plenty large for the 12 hour journey, however, and that was all I was really concerned about.

The Micronesian.

After a couple hours of preparation, we were finally off.  There were families of the crew and other folks with FWS waving goodbye and cheering us on our voyage, so there was a feeling of excitement in the air as we slowly pulled out of the harbor.  I don’t really know my boat terms very well, so please bear with the following description of the Micronesian’s accomodations: There was an upper cabin area on deck with 3 or 4 rows of large seats, some tables, a TV, and a toilet, or head, as they say.  Down below there was a galley, a few rooms with some bunks, and sort of a cargo hold.   I didn’t venture into any other areas, so I can’t describe any more of the boat.   Passengers basically included the Science crew, which consisted of our bug team (5) and a marine biology team (5).  The rest of the folks were either part of the boat’s crew or part of the camp crew on one of the islands. 

Mike, Justin, and Stephan in the main cabin.

I was very concerned about getting sick, even though I had taken one Bonine pill in the morning, and another just after boarding the boat.  I was doing fine, until we had to move a bunch of gear from the deck cabin down below to the cargo area.  I was part of the chain down below, receiving luggage as it was passed from person to person down the stairs and through the narrow passage.  By this time the boat was well under way and we had hit open ocean so the vessel was heaving to and fro.  I started sweating profusely and began feeling a little uneasy. I didn’t get nauseated, but I was feeling very disoriented and my head ached.  Standing outside on deck, with the cool air and ocean spray hitting me in the face, I was able to slightly recover.  Soon it got dark however, so I retreated inside to try and find a seat. 

One of the guys that seemed to sort of be in charge, or who at least been on the boat before and had some idea what was going on, told us that for DVDs we had the choice of either war movies or porn.  The latter option seemed like a weird choice to offer since out of the 10 science crew, 4 were women.  There was kind of an awkward pause, and then somebody suggested we go with the war DVDs.  Band of Brothers ended up being the final choice.  I am actually a big fan of the Band of Brothers series – I read the book and had seen all the episodes before, but watching people have their limbs blown off and listening to exploding bombs and constant machine gun fire doesn’t exactly put you at ease when you are trying ward off seasickness.  I was kind of in an out, trying not to get too sick. I found that laying outside on deck was where I felt the best.  There was a pile of ropes to one side that made a comfortable enough little spot for me to lay, and there was a nearby cargo strap to which I could cling and prevent myself from being tossed overboard during the big bumps over the waves.  There was a lot of ocean spray at that spot, but if felt good.  The Bonine was kicking in, so I actually dozed off in my little nest of ropes for a short time before someone woke me asking if I was OK.  I assured them that I was.  A while later another guy came out and told me that I was in a bad spot and that I had to go inside.  I tried sleeping in some of the chairs, but it was no good. Many of the folks had already spread out so there was no place to lay down, and Band of Brothers was still going, even though there was no one watching.  Actually, it was stuck on the menu screen, so the theme was playing over and over.  Either no one knew how to turn it off, or no one wanted to get up, so the music just kept droning on as the dimly lit cabin slammed back and forth with the boat as it pushed ahead through the ocean swells. 

I actually took another Bonine for fear that I was getting sick again.  That made three Bonine pills in a period of about 12 hours.  Not sure what the limit is, but I am pretty sure you aren’t supposed to take that many in such a short period.  Needless to say, I  was super tired, so I finally wandered downstairs.  I thought it would be terrible down there, but actually it seemed a little more stable. I found a bunk and immediately crashed.  Next thing I knew I was waking up and the boat was no longer moving – I had slept for about 8 or 9 hours straight, but more importantly, we had arrived at Pagan.

Looking at the south end of Pagan from aboard the Micronesian.

Subterranean Termite Colony – 100 Feet Underground!

June 24, 2010

It’s true.

I was invited to check out some mud tubes inside a tunnel system that went into the side of a mountain.  As I was looking at the mud tubes, I had this weird feeling, kind of an existential epiphany, that I was also a termite in an earthen tube – it was a little freaky. 

Unfortunately I couldn’t take any pictures of the actual tunnel we were in, but I was able to get some pics of the termite tubes:

Anyway, I wonder what the record is for the depth that a termite colony has been found underground? The spot where the mud tubes were located was indeed about 1oo ft below the surface of the ridge, but it was unclear exactly how the termites got there. A pair of alates could have easily entered the tunnels, just as we did, from the side of the ridge, and founded the colony.  However, the colony was located all the way up at the end of one of the side tunnels, so it seems a little weird that they would have chosen that spot as opposed to other locations closer to the entrance. Another possibility is that that the termites are colonizing the space between rock and the cement that lines the tunnels. It is possible that back in the day the builders used wood forms before applying the concrete, and those forms have provided food for the termites. Perhaps the termites are using the concrete tunnel lining as a giant guide, and where we see the mud tubes is just one small area where the termites have been able to penetrate into the inside of the tunnel.  I guess there is also the possibility they came down, through the ground, from the top of the ridge, but in the absence of some kind of guide like a ventilation pipe, I doubt they would tunnel down that deep. I don’t think there are any penetrations to the surface from that spot. 

Whatever the case, it was a cool experience.

Mystery Moth

May 4, 2010

Back in late March we conducted surveys for Hawaiian Drosophilia around some properties in Kokee (Kauai) that the Navy uses. It was a great trip, worthy of more than a few posts here, but for now I’m just going to throw up some pics of a little lep species I’ve been trying to rear.

Some backround:

I found a cluster (maybe about 50 or so) of dark pink (salmon or maybe coral colored?) eggs on an Acacia koa  leaf – not technically a leaf (petiole? phyllode?), I know,  but for lack of a better term that is what I am calling it.  I was actually hoping they were koa bug eggs, but when I showed them to Steve he immediately recognized them as Lepidoptera eggs (too small for Coleotichus blackburniae).  He suggested I collect the eggs, take them back to Oahu, and try to rear to the adult form.   This is what I have been doing for the last month.  The eggs hatched on March 30th or possibly the night of the 29th.  I’ve reared them on Formosa koa the whole time up until today. They seemed to prefer eating the flowers and not the leaves.  I tried to take photos every 5 to 10 days – once again I struggled to get decent pics, but I guess they came out OK.  This morning I noticed that there were about 5 or 6 caterpillars lying motionless under the paper towel on the bottom of the cage, and when I checked again at noon, two had turned into pupae.  Another 5 or 6 were lying on top of the paper towels as well.  I’m a little bummed out because I leave for Okinawa on Saturday for three weeks, and I’m afraid the adults will not emerge (eclose?) before I leave.  I’m probably going to have to leave the pupae with a coworker or something.

Here are the pics (unfortunately I never took a photo of the eggs) – if anyone out there knows the species I would greatly appreciate your input!

Apocalyptic Megafauna!

May 2, 2010

It all started at one of those super-fun meetings about contracts.  We were going over the different kinds of natural resources work that an installation could possibly require – stuff like bird surveys, small mammal surveys, plant surveys, etc. –  and I suggested that we shouldn’t forget about surveys for apocalyptic megafauna (This seemed particularly important since the contracts in question included work done for installations in Japan.).  So, whatever, it was good for a few laughs.  

Actually this is a term that came to me once as I was thinking about how, as an entomologist, I sometimes have a chip on my shoulder when it comes to charismatic megafauna and all the various “ologists” that study them.  Since, by definition, I don’t think the charismatic megafauna include any current species of insects, there should be a classification for the mega-insects that will usher in the end of civilization as we know it and rule the planet – beasts from godzilla movies such as Mothra and Megaguirus. (I guess there could also be a separate group of  mega-arthropods, such as the giant scorpions in “Damnation Alley”, which have become gigantean from atomic radiation and roam about, terrorizing the nuclear wasteland – these would actually be post-apocalyptic megafauna, but that term doesn’t really have the same ring to it.) 

The funniest part is that the term made its way into a few Powerpoint briefings, and then became somewhat of running joke around the office.  We even made t-shirt about it (you can find it here).  Here’s an example of just how far it has evolved – the following email string began in response to an unusual comment that was found in a bat recovery plan.

(Coworker A)

Evidence that the world is not completely bird centric :

“Typically, observations of vertebrates flying between islands over tens of miles of open ocean are extremely rare.”

(Coworker B)

Sheesh! Maybe they don’t count the class Reptilia.

(Coworker C)

I’d strongly disagree!

I’d suggest the dude check the latest airline schedules!!


That’s because birds are pseudo-vertebrates (phylum pseudovertebrata).

(Coworker B)

 So if somebody is spineless, they could be called “bird backed”? (as opposed to “bird brained” – in some cases this would mean they have an enlarged hippocampus).

 (Coworker A)

 Attached shows at least one bird out there with a backbone! (Thought you’d appreciate some avian apocalyptic megafauna…)


(Coworker B)

Quick! What’s the species??!! Is it a species of concern?


Penguins suck, even colossal fire-breathing ones.

(Coworker B)

What!!??? They are the movie stars of Antarctica! Males practically starve themselves in the cold for their children while the female runs off and spends all the goods! It’s an apocryphal object lesson for all of us men.

Learn from the masters.

(Coworker A)

More sucky penguins attached here.








(Coworker B) 

Aww, they’re almost worth starving yourself to death for.


Since I am coming in late…  We’ll have to observe the fire-breathing penguin.  That one was a baby penguin.  How big does it get?  Was it in the “terrible 2s”?

(Coworker B) 

Apocalyptic megafauna are extreme K-selected organisms, therefore, they have long maturity cycles before reproduction. Since Godzilla was supposed to be pretty doggone old when he went on his rampage. Maybe this fire-breathing baby penguin is in the “terrible 200s”?

(Coworker A)

The babies breathe fire on just attack helicopters — adults will take on aircraft carriers… and leopard seals.

(Coworker B)  

The Navy isn’t going to like mitigating for that! I think that would be Terrestrial Resources’ responsibility. They certainly don’t breath fire when they are in the water!


Yes, they breathe fire under water!!!  They like their fish seared.  The flames are bluer.  

(Coworker A)

This one still has just down feathers (not waterproof), so wouldn’t be able to forage under water yet. Maybe that’s why it’s so pissed off – it’s just hungry.

Re: mitigation, we could likely just train them to do Force Protection, like the bottle-nose dolphins.

(Coworker B)

I see where this is going. Push the impossible task off on Marine Resources, watch them flounder, laugh when it taken away from us and given it to somebody else to put a happy spin on it and add it to the INRMP.

How cruel can you be??!!

(Coworker C)

I’m forwarding the picture to Ed Becker.  It will be perfect for the cover of the helicopter EIS he is working on!


INRMP section:

Endangered species: Apocolyptic baby penguin [mega-fauna group, linneas]/Order: Sphenisciformes/Genus: Aptenodytes apocolyticii var. pseudovertbratii

This bird is unique in several ways, it has moved north of the equator and has been known to roost in or transit through human metropolises.  It is distinct in that it appears to maintain chick plumage throughout its known (to humans) lifespan and can reach up to 50 ft (15.24 meters) high.  Luckily it is unable to fly, but when it is under stress it has been reported to display glowing red eyes and breathe flames at circling helicopters.  The USFWS listed the apocalyptic baby penguin as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 2008.  It was stated within the listing notice of the Federal Register that since only one apocalyptic baby penguin has been seen, this unique species must be protected from all irate governments. There has been no critical habitat designated.

The species is assumed to have world-wide distribution and could potentially show up at Navy Installations.  Monthly surveys for this species will be initiated within the next fiscal year.  It is assumed that since this species is worldwide, that this species will be included within the next iteration of the EIS documents on the Pacific side.  Surveys for at-sea sightings will begin upon completion of the section 7 consultation with NOAA. 

Current INRMP management will consist of grinding up large amounts of fish, or fish-based products (high-end cat food) and freezing the fish into assumed apocalyptic baby penguin gullet-sized portions.  Catapults will be installed at all installations and if a siting occurs, the apocalyptic Baby Penguin Strike Team (ABPST) will mobilize to all catapult stations (the model is the Incident Command System).  If the apocalyptic baby penguin begins to exhibit stressed behaviors, the ABPST will lob the thawed fish goo portions at the baby penguin in an effort to get it to eat the proferred food and fall asleep.  The Navy is still working on a plan to obtain a take permit from USFWS to move the penguin to a safer place while it is asleep.  

(Coworker B)

Wow! Your expertise extends to apocalyptic baby penguins! I am truly impressed!

The only things I would add is we need to have an appropriate military name for the catapults. How about penguin neutralizer uplift station or PNUS?

(Coworker A)

More appropriate for the bird world:

Cyprinid Launch Overhead-Applicator CAtapult (CLOACA)

(Coworker B)

Excellent! They wouldn’t even know why we would be laughing at them during the OPS brief. I can hear it now:

“We are assigning Captain Smith to man his CLOACA and subdue the target.”

(Coworker D)

I would like to suggest the Enormous Numbing Ultimate Katopolt-o-matic (UNIK)


Maybe its just me, but prefer PNUS over UNIK.

(Coworker A)

Yeah, that’s not just you.

“Relax, my mom is an entomologist.”

April 28, 2010

Since Mother’s Day is coming up, I thought I would put a little twist on the “Relax, I’m an entomologist” t-shirt design. 

 I uploaded it to my Cafepress site… who knows if anyone will be interested, but the original has been mildly popular (even though, now that I look at it, I can see that I need to fix it up a bit).  There are probably a few more variations on this theme worth playing around with…  “Relax, my dad is an entomologist”, “Relax, my son/daughter is an entomologist”, “Relax, I’m a myrmecologist” – (figure with ants crawling on it) etc.

Croton caterpillar, Achaea janata (Linnaeus), (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)

April 20, 2010

Found this little beastie munching on one of our croton plants the other day.  Here in Hawaii it is aptly named the Croton Caterpillar, but I guess in other parts of the world it goes by the moniker “Castor Oil Semi-looper.”  Don’t know much about this handsome insect, other than 1) the species name, Achaea janata (Linnaeus); 2) the family, Noctuidae; and 3) it eats crotons and evidently castor bean plants.  I did manage to get a few mediocre pics, so here they are:

I’m trying to rear this guy out to an adult, so if I’m successful, I’ll update this post with some pics of the moth.

Be a Rockstar, Do Some Entomology Outreach.

April 12, 2010

It’s not every day you get to feel like a rockstar…especially when you’re an entomologist.  This is why I keep the following letter in my cubicle at work – whenever I’m feeling like a loser, I look at it and feel a little better:

It’s a letter I received in response to a career presentation on Entomology that I gave last year at my daughters’ elementary school.  I particularly like where he writes “you’re awesome” and “you’re an inspiration to us all.” 

I’ll admit that it was a small inconvenience to take time off from work, get everything ready, and haul it all out there, but the payoff was obviously worth it.  Here it is, almost a year later, and I’m still remembering it.  There were even a few kids who asked for my autograph. It was awesome.  I was asked to come back again this year, but unfortunately I’m going to be in Okinawa for Pesticide Applicator training…bummer.