Connected on 2015-01-20 11:00:00 from Polk County, Florida, United States
- Bugscope Team microscope is pumping down
- Bugscope Team once it has reached vacuum, we will do a quick tune-up and then begin to collect presets
- Bugscope Team today we have a number of very small insects that we placed on the stub using a wet brush, rather than forceps, because they are so small
- Teacher Hello! We've logged in, even though I know we're a few minutes early.
- Bugscope Team hey no problem. we are done making presets, and if you would like to start now that is fine
- Teacher Sure!
- Bugscope Team I am the only Bugscope person on, so far.
- Bugscope Team you have control of the microscope; please let me know if you have any problems
- Teacher Quinn and Ainsley are here with me, all of us looking at my lptop.
- Bugscope Team super cool!
- Bugscope Team here we're looking at a few scales, or sections of scales, from a butterfly wing
- Teacher Ainsley would like to know how you prepare the bugs for the microscope
Bugscope Team often when we receive them they are dead, and we ensure that they are dry. we then mount them on an aluminum stub that is 1.75 inches in diameter and has doublestick carbon tape on it
Bugscope Team we often add a dot of silver paint to help the bugs stick down, and when we have them all mounted we coat them with a few nm of gold-palladium
- Teacher can you explain what the gold-palladium does?
Bugscope Team if we were to beam electrons at a sample that was not conductive, the electrons would penetrate it and make it glow; also the image would not look good. so we use a super thin layer of conductive metal to make it so that the electrns that impinge on the sample produce what are called secondary electrons from that conductive surface, and those 2ndary electrons make up the images we see
- Bugscope Team palps look like tiny accessory limbs, and they function that way as well, kind of like knives and forks for us
- Teacher Can you tell us about the structures we see here with the praying mantis?
Bugscope Team praying mantises are predators, and we are looking at their mouthparts, which include four palps, two mandibles, and other plate-like pieces that move up and down when the mantis chews its prey.
- Bugscope Team one thing the palps do that knives and forks do not is to 'taste' or pretaste prospective food.
- Bugscope Team this is super cool -- actually a small beetle here
- Teacher How often does a mantis feed?
Bugscope Team I am not sure; I would say nearly every day, depending on how much they get per day
Bugscope Team Most if not all mantids are ambush predators. They sit and wait in an area with high insect traffic, such as a flower, and strike at any insects that come close to them. They will eat as much as they can get their hands on, but can probably go a considerable amount of time without feeding. The older the mantis the less food they need; adult mantids could probably go a week or so without food and be okay
- Bugscope Team you can see that is has four palps as well
- Bugscope Team insects do not have skin, so they do not have nerve endings in skin like we do that would permit them to feel touch, for example. instead, they have what are called setae, which look like tiny hairs, that stick through the shell, or exoskeleton, and provide sensory input. that is not only touch but smell, hot/cold, wind...
- Bugscope Team I think it is a rove beetle.
- Bugscope Team there are many different species of rove beetles, most of which are predators
- Teacher Does this dude have eyes?
Bugscope Team haha Yes! They are streamlined into the head.
Bugscope Team we can see them at a higher mag -- I made a preset of that.
- Teacher So, this is a rove beetle? I'm unfamiliar with this type of beetle. Can you tell us about it?
Bugscope Team Rove beetles are members of the beetle family Staphylinidae. They are one of the most specious families of insects, with about 60,000 known species worldwide. Most if not all rove beetles are predatory. You can typically identify a rove beetle by its very short forewings and long, exposed abdomen, which they sometimes curl over the back of their bodies like a scorpion would its tail
Bugscope Team I'm not sure where you guys are located, but if its warm out check the porch lights tonight, chances are if you look hard enough youll find a rove beetle. most of them are tiny though, about a centimeter long
- Bugscope Team now we see what was not apparent earlier
- Teacher AH! Found it.
Bugscope Team Yay! Very smooth, from a distance.
- Bugscope Team we can see some of the setae we had been referring to as well
- Bugscope Team some setae (the hairs) are used for proprioception, which is self-sensing.
- Bugscope Team the praying mantis's eyes are similarly smooth and have many more facets, called ommatidia
- Bugscope Team this gives us a rare look at the interior of the mouth of a fruitfly
- Teacher what are we looking at on this one?
Bugscope Team the thing we're looking at is the mouth, in this case a sponging mouth
- Teacher how does this eye function in comparison to not stream-lined eyes?
Bugscope Team they would be comparable if they were about the same size, but there are differences between insects in colors they see, and things like that, that we cannot discern this way
Bugscope Team many insects that have color vision cannot see the color red but can see Ultraviolet light. essentially their visible spectrum is shifted down a peg from ours. Many species also have a higher number of different cone cells in their eyes (cone cells sense color). A non-colorblinded human has three types of cone cells - red, blue, and green; whereas an aphid may have 5 types. It doesnt necessarily mean they can see more colors than we can, but it allows them to more easily differentiate between very similar colors
- Teacher Is that an eye to the left of it?
Bugscope Team yes it is! one of the fruitfly's compound eyes, which is covered with tiny setae that are said to be responsible for sensing wind speed and direction
- Bugscope Team sponging mouthparts operate kind of like wet sponges; the fluids they carry dissolve compounds that the insect can absorb as food
- Teacher are those teeth, or something like teeth, inside the mouth?
Bugscope Team you will not find teeth in insects; the closest thing, I think, is hardened tips of mandibles. that is, they sometimes have minerals like zinc and calcium in them that make them hard and also allow them to last longer
Bugscope Team the things that look like teeth are likely used to help make liquids flow back into the mouth or forward
Bugscope Team liquids that may contain dissolved nutrients and things like sugar
- Teacher What is the fluid? Some kind of acid or saliva?
Bugscope Team saliva
Bugscope Team it may be stronger and have acid or base qualities; there is a continuum on to the insects whose saliva actually does dissolve the insides of its prey, as spider venom does
- Bugscope Team this is the face of one of the cucumber beetles
- Bugscope Team it is kind of dirty. some of the insects we use for Bugscope are so small that we cannot always tell how messy their faces might be
- Teacher What are the brighter, circular things on in mouth-area of this guy?
Bugscope Team those are two matching palps
- Bugscope Team this is one of the palps
- Teacher this one has a line around it's neck, is it able to swivel it's head?
Bugscope Team praying mantises are know to be able to swivel their necks, and almost all other insects are very limited that way. maybe a little?
- Teacher Why are they called cucumber beetles?
Bugscope Team Because they are pests of cucumbers and related plants
Bugscope Team There are at least two species that have a common name of cucumber beetle, the striped cucumber beetle and the spotted cucumber beetle. We'd have to flip it over for me to ID wh(obviously the striped one has stripes and the spotted one spots)
Bugscope Team Striped cucumber beetles are more damaging to crops because they can vector bacterial wilt, which kills the plants.
- Bugscope Team the palp we are looking at now has sensory setae kind of like tastebuds on your tongue
- Bugscope Team it is about 50 microns in diameter, which is about a 20th of a millimeter; it is about 25 bacteria in diameter
Bugscope Team that is, the rod-shaped bacilli, which are often about 2 micrometers (microns) long
- Teacher are we looking at the top of the ant's head, or side?
- Bugscope Team this is the head of one of the plier ants; we can see what look like teeth on its mandible, but they are not strictly teeth
- Teacher oh, I see it says from the top
- Bugscope Team one of the antenna is broken off; the one that would be on the left
- Teacher is it missing an antennae?
Bugscope Team yes it is!
- Bugscope Team its compound eyes have very few facets compared to some ants and many other insects; ants do not often see very well, and most of their communication is received using the antennae.
- Teacher are the mandibles always asymmetric like this? like lobster claws?
Bugscope Team I don't think the mandibles are asymmetric, one has just slipped past the other.
- Bugscope Team Scott, I dont think this ant is a plier ant. the other one thats laying on its side is though.
Bugscope Team Michelle Josh is a myrmecologist; he prefers ants over anything else; here he is right, of course
Bugscope Team the mandibles resemble those of plier ants, which are also on today's stub; I was wrong about this one
- Bugscope Team when mandibles have the ability to slip past each other, like this, they can perform more like scissors
- Teacher So, Josh, what kind of ant is this?
Bugscope Team lol not sure, I study trap-jaw ants, which are ants with specialized mandibles that function very similar to bear traps and allow ants to capture fast moving prey. The plier ants are members of the genus Strumigenys, which has evolved this mechanism at least three times, and the plier ant mandibles are a sort of precursor to true trap-jaws. So I can tell you its not a trap-jaw or plier ant. If I could see the entire ant I might be able to tell you subfamily or genus. Sorry I'm pretty bad at IDing things under the SEM
- Teacher Which one is the actual plier ant? The one showing the stinger or the one labeled "small ant"?
Bugscope Team yes the one with the stinger
Bugscope Team This one is the actual Plier ant
Bugscope Team we cannot see the pliers as well here
Bugscope Team You cant see it very well from this angle, but these mandibles are lined with long teeth like protrusions. that allow the plier ants to grasp their springtail prey, which are fast moving and likely to escape if the ant does not effectively hold onto them
- Bugscope Team the tiny setae we see to the right also seem to differentiate the plier ant's mouthparts from those of many other ants
- Teacher The ones that flare out at the tips?
Bugscope Team yes, they are very orderly, if we could see them better
- Teacher what sets a plier ant's mandibles apart from other ants?
Bugscope Team this is Josh's realm for sure..
Bugscope Team The plier ant's mandibles are typically short and triangular in shape with many "teeth". They also are able to be locked in place in an open position (around 60 to 90 degrees apart) by a modified labium. This allows the ant to contract its large mandibular closer muscles slowly over a period of time and build up striking energy, sort of like a spring or a catapult. When the ant encounters prey and the prey comes into contact with one of its long setae between its mandibles (known as trigger hairs), it quickly releases the mandibles and clamps down on its prey, preventing it from escaping
Bugscope Team very much like a bear trap.
Bugscope Team just below and to the right of the mandibles you can see modified clubbed setae
Bugscope Team these are diagnostic of the genus strumigenys. Unfortunately we are uncertain as to their exact function, but they most likely hold some sort of chemical secreted from other parts of the ants body
Bugscope Team Its thought that they could function as prey lures, or help the ant camouflage itself as it sneaks up on its prey
- Bugscope Team this is the antennal comb. Most ants have this structure and they use it to clean their antennae by running their antennae through their legs.
Bugscope Team believe it or not, staying clean is very important to ants
Bugscope Team right up there next to godliness
- Teacher so is this on the ant's leg?
Bugscope Team Yes, on their front leg. I believe its located close to what you would think of as the ants knee
Bugscope Team Oh my bad, its more like what you would think of as the wrist or ankle
- Teacher are they sticky, or do they just push dirt off (like a real comb)?
Bugscope Team I believe they just push dirt off; any sort of stickiness is due to structure, not secretions, sort of like velcro
Bugscope Team although I think some ants do have tibial glands, which may secrete some sort of substance to clean their antennae. I'm not entirely sure
- Teacher why is being clean important to an ant?
Bugscope Team Ants rely heavily on their sense of smell to communicate with nest mates and find food. So its very important that their antennae function properly, and so they need to keep them clean, just like you are able to smell better after blowing your nose
Bugscope Team in addition, ants are social creatures and thus live very close together in relatively large numbers. Germs spread very quickly in those kinds of living contitions, so ants need to keep themselves and their nest clean to prevent the spread of infection. In fact, almost all ants have a structure called the metapleural gland, which is located on the side of the ants thorax and secretes an antibiotic substance which they spread all over themselves and their nest to keep germs away
- Teacher one last question before we go, what is your favorite or most interesting bug to look at under the SEM?
Bugscope Team I like earegi
Bugscope Team oops. Im ;lk
Bugscope Team The plier ants and trap-jaw ants of course :)
Bugscope Team can't type. I like earg
Bugscope Team Earwigs, because they often have mites...
- Teacher well thank you both so much for your time. This is our second year participating in bug scope and it's always so very fascinating, we hope to be back next year.
Bugscope Team No problem, happy to be of assistance :)
- Bugscope Team we have a service engineer due any minute to work on the 'scope, so this is perfect
- Bugscope Team Thank you!
- Teacher thank you
- Bugscope Team BYe
- Bugscope Team Bye, everyone!