Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Fauna Update

The salamander images from last week have arrived. The Slimy Salamander (Plethodon glutinosus) is shown on the notebook and the female Marbled Salamander (Ambystoma opacum) guarding her eggs.

Salamander images by Christina Bryant (slimy) and Michelle Baldwin (marbled)

Although not yet showing on their webpage, this month's edition of South Carolina Wildlife magazine contains an article by Steve Bennett describing the winter behavior of many of our state's amphibians. Most notably, heavy winter rains trigger explosive breeding episodes in some species. The cooler temperatures allow for more oxygen in the water, which is beneficial for adult and young amphibians alike.

The bot fly that we discovered earlier in our office has been tentatively identified as Cuterebra fontinella fontinella. Jeff Boettner, Plant, Soil and Insect Sciences, at University of Massachusetts-Amherst spotted our images on the web and noted that it was not the Squirrel Bot Fly (Cuterebra emasculator) that we later described on this blog. The previously-unidentified Cuterebra fontinella fontinella seeks Peromyscus (deer mice)as a host for its larvae. Apparently, there is also a bot fly that targets rabbits. Who knew? Well, somebody...but not us. You should be noticing that our insect species list continues to grow as we identify specimens. We welcome all those who are willing to study and/or identify our insects as they are a critical component of our old-growth ecosystem.

Bot fly images by Mark Musselman

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