Biology Apology – Now We’re Even

My fingers are still sore from the last mega-post so decided to go with a quick one today.  I do not know what the weather was like in your part of the world, but the US Midwest experienced a rather wet Spring and Summer season.  In fact, it just started raining a few minutes ago.  As a well owner, this does not bother me at all and takes a few worries off the daily list.  This rain does have an interesting side effect.  Some validation research is still ongoing, but the preliminary results indicate we have a ton more frogs and toads hopping all over the place in these conditions.  By the incredibly loud croaking that fills the night ambiance, the guess is they are at near plague levels this year.  You know about our stream in the back lot by now, but we also have a couple of ponds near our property that provide a perfect environment for them.  Over time you get pretty good at locating them especially late at night when they are hopping in desperation to escape the car lights and their frantic leaping out of harm’s way from the mowers.  As a personal favor to the reptile gods I try my best to allow them time to make it to safety – a small token of appreciation for helping me get through Biology class.  Every once in awhile, we uncover some nice specimens and usually head straight for the cameras.  Actually that isn’t entirely correct.  First we have to make sure our youngest dog (Rizzi) will leave them alone.  He has an uncanny ability to locate these creatures whenever they visit our porch and makes a bee line to them in order give them a thorough sniffing.  A running joke is our dog needs his frog licking hallucinogenic fix.

To finish cleaning up for the Halloween party, I needed to relocate a bunch of leftover boards from the bridge project.  While lifting up one of the boards, I noticed this amazing frog.

This was clearly worth stopping what I was doing and hunting down the camera.  Slap on the macro glass and off to the shoot.  In an effort not to disturb it much, a decision was made not to bother putting my hand or foot close to it for a better sizing perspective.  For reference, it was sitting on 1″ driveway rock so by that estimate it was probably 4-5″s long and had a pretty beefy 2″ sitting height to it.  It never moved the entire time I was snapping pictures either due to being there the whole time I was working on the wood or simply scared completely out its wits.  In either case, a stationary subject is always a good thing with the macro glass.  There was also some interesting lighting I was trying to play with.  Here is one of those experiments.

I actually really liked how this turned out.  There is enough contrast to isolate the frog from the rock and the upper shadow helps make it stand out really nice in the frame.  If you get a chance, jump over to the Smugmug gallery and look at it in the largest size available – pick Original to see the image in all its detail.  The eye came out very nice and you can make out the pretty cool toes.  As far as the frog family goes, this is probably the second largest I have had the pleasure of actually coming in contact with outside of the zoo.  The largest was one we found in a basement window well at my brother Dan’s previous house back in Channahon IL.  That frog was a good 7-8″s long and easily had a resting height of 3-4″s.  After some reluctance to actually touch that one, we finally managed to get it out of there and sent it on its way back towards a nearby river.

Hit the link to see another angle of … I shall call him Leo

Continue reading Biology Apology – Now We’re Even

One Nervous Tick

It is not often that a blog opportunity just drops into my lap.  I by that I mean literally drops into my lap!  In case you did not get the chance to read my last post, I had my Macro glass out taking pictures of some metal shavings that were wrecking havoc on my whirlpool faucets.  As it turns out, during the afternoon before that picture was taken I was out working in the woods trying to clean up the brush from last year’s Operation Parkify.  I came in and decided to get the images created for the post (trust me, that steps takes far longer than the actual post text takes).  I finally got the camera, Macro glass and tripod all set up next to computer desk in order to capture the metal shavings.  As I was checking something on my computer I noticed something strange on wrist.  On closer investigation a controlled (and very manly) eeeesh was emitted.  Now, snakes do not bother me much, spiders fascinate me and bees/wasps will live another day unless they make a stupid decision to annoy me.  What does slightly raise the blood pressure is this!

I am not sure exactly what causes this concern, but it is likely due to the fact they are CREEPY looking and very difficult to actually kill.  Scratch that [hehehe clever pun], they are actually very easy to kill when you are trying to remove them once they have bedded down in the skin.

Based on some literature I read (actually, my brother may have given me the reference for it sometime back), ticks supposedly do not violate the prey until a number of hours after it lands on the host.  And yes, land is the appropriate verb since contrary to a common city dweller opinion, they do not have the ability to fly forcing them to fall from trees and such on their victims.  Needless to say, there was no way this Macro opportunity was going untested.  For some reason, (let’s call him) Vlad did not want to cooperate with the artiiiiist.  No problems, a quick reach for some paper provided a means to move it into the camera zone.  Vlad must have had a flashback of kids trying to burn its legs off with a magnifying glass because he did not want to sit still under the lens (what, you never did that when you were a kid? how about smacking lightening bugs with a Wiffle ball bat?  tearing wings off of flies?  nevermind 8^).  Anyway, the tight aperture of the Macro was not liking the movement with the low depth of field.

As you can see, the front legs and body are in focus, but the top legs were likely moving and past the depth of field.  Keep in mind this particular beast is all of 7mm long.  By my guess we are about 8x-9x magnification with this Macro shot.  Now, am I crazy or is this image not on the same level as demon spawn CLOWNS?  This was a trick question since nothing is in the same league as CLOWNS, but the jury will accept any comparison to moles or our current Congress members.

The annoying thing about Vlad and his species is how hard they are to see in the woods.  Having perfectly adapted to their natural surroundings, they are basically invisible to the naked eye when lurking between the tree bark and their feather weight raises no concerns when they successfully invade your personal space.  The stain on my computer desk is a little lighter than the hues in the woods, but you can see how it starts to blend in better (compared to the yellow paper in the background above)

The odd thing about ticks around here is they tend to attack a certain member of the family far more than the others.  In fact, that member does not even have to leave the house to get them.  If one of the others are out in the woods and forget to properly check their clothes when then come back in, it is a sure thing one of Vlad’s cousins will seek that member out and start feasting.  That member happens to be Rizzi, our youngest toy poodle.  Why you ask?  Well, he happens to be bright white and this is like streetlights to moths.  I can’t count the number of times we have had to pull ticks of him – once even on his eyebrow.  We do treat him regularly to help prevent this, but these sneaky pests always find a way past the defenses.

In closing, here are a couple super zoomed pictures.  Vlad wouldn’t keep still for a even a second so a lot of the detail shots came out a tad blurry.  This particular shot shows the tiny hairs along the bloody colored legs – try getting this image out of your head come bedtime, worse yet the new associations you will have with CLOWNS hehehehe.

I wish the shot came out better, but here is one of the tip of the foot.  It looks like a tiny scalpel.

Probably so it can dig into the flesh when it goes to bury its head deep into the epidermis to start sucking that juicy red nectar.  I am betting you just developed a phantom itch 8^)

Sweet dreams everyone!