Connected on 2015-01-20 11:00:00
from Polk County, Florida, United States
- 9:39 am
- Bugscope Teammicroscope is pumping down
- Bugscope Teamonce it has reached vacuum, we will do a quick tune-up and then begin to collect presets
- 9:44 am
- Bugscope Teamtoday 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
- 9:55 am
- 10:01 am
- 10:08 am
- 10:17 am
- 10:24 am
- 10:36 am
- 10:42 am
- TeacherHello! We've logged in, even though I know we're a few minutes early.
- Bugscope Teamhey no problem. we are done making presets, and if you would like to start now that is fine
- Bugscope TeamI am the only Bugscope person on, so far.
- Bugscope Teamyou have control of the microscope; please let me know if you have any problems
- TeacherQuinn and Ainsley are here with me, all of us looking at my lptop.
- Bugscope Teamsuper cool!
- Bugscope Teamhere we're looking at a few scales, or sections of scales, from a butterfly wing
- 10:48 am
- TeacherAinsley would like to know how you prepare the bugs for the microscope
Bugscope Teamoften 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 Teamwe 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
- Teachercan you explain what the gold-palladium does?
Bugscope Teamif 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
- 10:53 am
- Bugscope Teampalps look like tiny accessory limbs, and they function that way as well, kind of like knives and forks for us
- TeacherCan you tell us about the structures we see here with the praying mantis?
Bugscope Teampraying 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 Teamone thing the palps do that knives and forks do not is to 'taste' or pretaste prospective food.
- Bugscope Teamthis is super cool -- actually a small beetle here
- TeacherHow often does a mantis feed?
Bugscope TeamI am not sure; I would say nearly every day, depending on how much they get per day
Bugscope TeamMost 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 Teamyou can see that is has four palps as well
- 11:00 am
- Bugscope Teaminsects 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 TeamI think it is a rove beetle.
- Bugscope Teamthere are many different species of rove beetles, most of which are predators
- TeacherDoes this dude have eyes?
Bugscope Teamhaha Yes! They are streamlined into the head.
Bugscope Teamwe can see them at a higher mag -- I made a preset of that.
- TeacherSo, this is a rove beetle? I'm unfamiliar with this type of beetle. Can you tell us about it?
Bugscope TeamRove 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 TeamI'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 Teamnow we see what was not apparent earlier
- TeacherAH! Found it.
Bugscope TeamYay! Very smooth, from a distance.
- Bugscope Teamwe can see some of the setae we had been referring to as well
- 11:06 am
- Bugscope Teamsome setae (the hairs) are used for proprioception, which is self-sensing.
- Bugscope Teamthe praying mantis's eyes are similarly smooth and have many more facets, called ommatidia
- Bugscope Teamthis gives us a rare look at the interior of the mouth of a fruitfly
- 11:11 am
- Teacherwhat are we looking at on this one?
Bugscope Teamthe thing we're looking at is the mouth, in this case a sponging mouth
- Teacherhow does this eye function in comparison to not stream-lined eyes?
Bugscope Teamthey 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 Teammany 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
- TeacherIs that an eye to the left of it?
Bugscope Teamyes 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 Teamsponging mouthparts operate kind of like wet sponges; the fluids they carry dissolve compounds that the insect can absorb as food
- 11:17 am
- Teacherare those teeth, or something like teeth, inside the mouth?
Bugscope Teamyou 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 Teamthe things that look like teeth are likely used to help make liquids flow back into the mouth or forward
Bugscope Teamliquids that may contain dissolved nutrients and things like sugar
- TeacherWhat is the fluid? Some kind of acid or saliva?
Bugscope Teamit 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 Teamthis is the face of one of the cucumber beetles
- Bugscope Teamit 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
- TeacherWhat are the brighter, circular things on in mouth-area of this guy?
Bugscope Teamthose are two matching palps
- 11:22 am
- Bugscope Teamthis is one of the palps
- Teacherthis one has a line around it's neck, is it able to swivel it's head?
Bugscope Teampraying mantises are know to be able to swivel their necks, and almost all other insects are very limited that way. maybe a little?
- TeacherWhy are they called cucumber beetles?
Bugscope TeamBecause they are pests of cucumbers and related plants
Bugscope TeamThere 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 TeamStriped cucumber beetles are more damaging to crops because they can vector bacterial wilt, which kills the plants.
- Bugscope Teamthe palp we are looking at now has sensory setae kind of like tastebuds on your tongue
- 11:27 am
- Bugscope Teamit is about 50 microns in diameter, which is about a 20th of a millimeter; it is about 25 bacteria in diameter
Bugscope Teamthat is, the rod-shaped bacilli, which are often about 2 micrometers (microns) long
- Teacherare we looking at the top of the ant's head, or side?
- Bugscope Teamthis 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
- Teacheroh, I see it says from the top
- Bugscope Teamone of the antenna is broken off; the one that would be on the left
- Teacheris it missing an antennae?
Bugscope Teamyes it is!
- Bugscope Teamits 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.
- Teacherare the mandibles always asymmetric like this? like lobster claws?
Bugscope TeamI don't think the mandibles are asymmetric, one has just slipped past the other.
- 11:32 am
- Bugscope TeamScott, I dont think this ant is a plier ant. the other one thats laying on its side is though.
Bugscope TeamMichelle Josh is a myrmecologist; he prefers ants over anything else; here he is right, of course
Bugscope Teamthe mandibles resemble those of plier ants, which are also on today's stub; I was wrong about this one
- Bugscope Teamwhen mandibles have the ability to slip past each other, like this, they can perform more like scissors
- TeacherSo, Josh, what kind of ant is this?
Bugscope Teamlol 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
- 11:37 am
- TeacherWhich one is the actual plier ant? The one showing the stinger or the one labeled "small ant"?
Bugscope Teamyes the one with the stinger
Bugscope TeamThis one is the actual Plier ant
Bugscope Teamwe cannot see the pliers as well here
Bugscope TeamYou 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 Teamthe tiny setae we see to the right also seem to differentiate the plier ant's mouthparts from those of many other ants
- TeacherThe ones that flare out at the tips?
Bugscope Teamyes, they are very orderly, if we could see them better
- 11:43 am
- Teacherwhat sets a plier ant's mandibles apart from other ants?
Bugscope Teamthis is Josh's realm for sure..
Bugscope TeamThe 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 Teamvery much like a bear trap.
Bugscope Teamjust below and to the right of the mandibles you can see modified clubbed setae
Bugscope Teamthese 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 TeamIts thought that they could function as prey lures, or help the ant camouflage itself as it sneaks up on its prey
- Bugscope Teamthis 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 Teambelieve it or not, staying clean is very important to ants
Bugscope Teamright up there next to godliness
- 11:48 am
- Teacherso is this on the ant's leg?
Bugscope TeamYes, on their front leg. I believe its located close to what you would think of as the ants knee
Bugscope TeamOh my bad, its more like what you would think of as the wrist or ankle
- Teacherare they sticky, or do they just push dirt off (like a real comb)?
Bugscope TeamI believe they just push dirt off; any sort of stickiness is due to structure, not secretions, sort of like velcro
Bugscope Teamalthough I think some ants do have tibial glands, which may secrete some sort of substance to clean their antennae. I'm not entirely sure
- Teacherwhy is being clean important to an ant?
Bugscope TeamAnts 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 Teamin 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
- 11:55 am
- Teacherone last question before we go, what is your favorite or most interesting bug to look at under the SEM?
Bugscope TeamI like earegi
Bugscope Teamoops. Im ;lk
Bugscope TeamThe plier ants and trap-jaw ants of course :)
Bugscope Teamcan't type. I like earg
Bugscope TeamEarwigs, because they often have mites...
- Teacherwell 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 TeamNo problem, happy to be of assistance :)
- Bugscope Teamwe have a service engineer due any minute to work on the 'scope, so this is perfect
- Bugscope TeamThank you!
- Teacherthank you
- Bugscope TeamBYe
- Bugscope TeamBye, everyone!