biology zoology blog benno meyer petioles

Petioles aren’t Petty at all

But what really are they then?

Petioles are not petitions and botanic petioles aren’t entomological petioles. So, what are they? Their etymology gives us a clue, for petiole comes from petiolous (= little foot, stalk). In entomology, however, it does not refer to a foot, but to the narrow waist characteristic of the bodies of wasps and all other members of the insect group known as Apocrita, i.e., the hornets, ants and bees. We are keeping wasps and hornets here in our laboratory in Korea, because farming wasps has become an industry in China and wasp larvae, which incidentally (just like the larvae of the other Apocrita) do not possess the petiole, are considered not only edible, but delicious in taste when lightly fried in oil.

biology zoology blog benno meyer sound of beetles

Sounds of the Beetles

Their variety is quite amazing

In many countries, the feeling of summer is related to the sound the cicadas make. Some call it “noise”, others describe it as “singing”. The entomologists refer to it as clicking sounds created by tymbal membranes on each side of the abdomen that are drawn together by muscles a few hundred times per second in a way rather similar to when one clicks the slightly raised lid of a tin inward and lets it bounce back to its original position. What’s interesting is that all the different cicada species anywhere in the world use the same method to produce their sounds. Crickets chirp (or sing) by rubbing one wing against the other and, once again, crickets all over the world use the same technique. Grasshoppers, no matter where use their hindlegs to ‘scratch’ their wings and create their distinct sounds in this way. It seems that once an ideal way to make sound has evolved it becomes the standard method and won’t change. With beetles it is different. Their sounds are softer, but produced in many more different ways. —>—>

biology zoology blog benno meyer saltwater spiders

Marine Spiders

Can there really be spiders in saltwater?

During my first “honey moon” many years ago, we spent a week on the Adriatic Sea island of Rab, which at that time was a part of Yugoslavia and now belongs to Croatia. While my new wife enjoyed getting a suntan lying on her bath towel on the pebble beach or refreshing herself in the water careful not to step on the thousands of sea urchins, I examined the porous stones in the ocean water down to a depth of my hips. What I then saw in the holes and crevices of some of these stones surprised and excited me: spiders, real spiders! I knew of only the freshwater spider Argyroneta aquatica that I had kept in one of my aquariums, which constructs its web and “diving bell” under water, but oceanic spiders? That was something new for me and not just me: it was the spider Desidiopsis racovitzai’s first record for Rab. —>—>