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Chinese opera mask bug (and bonus dubious chemical spotting)

Updated with possible bug ID, see bottom of post:

E sent me a photo he took of this brightly colored centimeter-long bug marching up the stone steps of the Yellow Crane Tower in Wuhan, China. Since there’s not much going on at home here in AZ, except ongoing wrestling with both the machinery and chemistry of a swimming pool that’s picked a very bad time to become unswimmable, I thought I’d shamelessly post vicariously from China instead.

The shape of the bug’s carapace, coloration and pattern reminded me of something — something Chinese — and, when my brain churned up what it was, I inset an image of it into E‘s bug photo.  And, no, “Chinese opera mask bug” is not the insect’s real name.  I have no idea about insects, so this guy’s identity is a mystery to me.  Any ideas?  It’s probably not poisonous — maybe — but it really wants you to think it is!  And, it’s on the go: note the blurred-with-lightning-fast-action right-hand mid-leg!

And, speaking of poisonous, here’s a sight E caught in a public place in Wuhan: 50 gallon drums of Chloroform rusting under a staircase.  For when you really, really, need to make sure something’s asleep…

(Both photos E.Shock)


With the help of Google (I searched “red black white hemipteran china”) and the What’s this bug website, I think this guy is the immature form of Lycorma delicatula, which is a Fulgorid leafhopper.  They are native to southern China, but have invaded the Korean peninsula, apparently at least in part through lumber imports, where they are considered a pest (see fun Korean video here).

Posted by Allison on May 31st 2011 | Filed in cool bug!,E,field trips,Invertebrata,oddities,unexpected | Comments (0)

The “Hot Sword of Shock”

Some readers know that the E who appears occasionally in this space is my husband, Everett Shock. Some readers also know that he’s a geochemist on the faculty of the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the department of Chemistry at Arizona State University.  But up until now, no one knew that an organism has been named in his honor.  It’s official, and in print — a newly identified archæon discovered living in the very hot water of a geothermal spring at Yellowstone National Park: Thermogladius shockii.

Thermogladius shockii: if your Latin’s a little creaky, that’s New Latin (the “made” Latin of scientific names) for “Hot Sword of Shock”.  The transmission electron microscopic photo F to the left shows why — according to M.Osburn and J.Amend, the authors of the article in Archives of Microbiology, some individuals sport “occasional stalk-like protrusions.”  (TEM images from Osburn and Amend, 2010)

But the “thermo” of Thermogladius doesn’t really refer to anatomical hotness (despite any claims to the contrary).  Thermogladius is a genus of HYPERthermophiles, tiny, single-celled, anaerobic cocci who prefer to live in very hot, nearly boiling, gas-rich water fermenting complex organic substrates.  What a way to make a living!

Congratulations, E!

Posted by Allison on Nov 5th 2010 | Filed in close in,E,etymology/words,natural history | Comments (5)

Happy Blue Moon New Year!

EThis is E.

In October of this year, E and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary (and that’s not even quite the whole of it).  At the time I didn’t post about it, since that sort of thing doesn’t fall within this blog’s usual subject matter.  But the turn of the new year — lit by a Blue Moon to boot — seems like a good time to say Thanks to E for being E, and for being around then and now (which is altogether different from being around now and then).  Don’t let’s stop now!

And, to everyone — family, friends, clients and customers — Three Star Owl thanks you one and all for enthusiasm, support, and care, and wishes you a VERY

HAPPY NEW YEAR!cranky_owlet

Posted by Allison on Dec 31st 2009 | Filed in E | Comments (3)