Archive for the ‘Fun Stuff’ Category

Billy Mays Orders Food From A McDonald’s Drive Thru

I came across this video and enjoyed the energy and humor of the moment, I hope you do as well.

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Picture of the Day: Seize The Day!

This crafty little lizard was sunning himself in the mouth of a “bird” lawn ornament. As we approached, a  hungry black snake hustled away towards the neighbor’s house, obviously frustrated in not finding his morning meal. We walked by the lizard several times and he was totally at ease will our presence.

We mentioned the lizard of our customer and she said that he (or she) is there everyday doing the same thing, seizing the day, Carpe Diem everyone!

Where is my lizard?

Leglio Sotolongo’s – Clearwater Cigar Store”

A wonderful friend of mine is Leglio Sotolongo. He has just opened a brand new cigar store in Clearwater, Florida and I am doing all I can to help promote his endeavor.

Please stop by and have a smoke with “Leg’s” and tell him you saw this notice on our website. I promise you will have a great time visiting and don’t forget to check out ….

THE WORLDS SMALLEST CIGAR!

This one of a kind cigar was personally hand rolled by Leglio’s thick, clumsy, cuban fingers….quite a feat!

Creepy Crawlers Take Contest to Another Dimension

‘Ugly Bug’ contenders boast on ‘Bugbook’ page

TEMPE, Ariz., Oct. 29 /PRNewswire/ — “You’ve just entered another dimension – a dimension of insects, a micro dimension, where milkweed bugs, assassin bugs, crickets and fruit flies crawl, walk or fly side by side to show off features that are the envy of the insect world and quite possibly beyond.” This isn’t the opening narration of the late 1950s television series “The Twilight Zone,” but the introduction of a video announcing the 2010 Ugly Bug Contest.

Last year’s Ugly Bug Contest attracted insect enthusiasts from around the world. Some 8,025 insectophiles cast their vote for their favorite ugly bug. This year, voters will have until Dec. 15 to show their support for the bug they deem the most fascinating, unique, or downright detestable. Until then, each bug’s fate hangs in a virtual balance.

Yellow Dragonfly

The adaptation of the Twilight Zone theme for this year’s video is well-suited for a contest whose contenders, all somewhat alien to a human viewer, resemble creatures one might see on the show. The house cricket, for example, with its passion for decayed insects while dining, resembles a flesh-eating zombie; while the assassin bug, whose beak-like mouthparts inject toxic saliva into its prey, becomes multiply monstrous in multifaceted eyes of insect victims.Assassin Bug

Other creatures determined to be crowned the ugliest bug of 2010 include the earwig, flour beetle, fruit and house flies, male ant, milkweed bug, jewel wasp and yellow dragonfly. The video is at http://askabiologist.asu.edu/video/ubc2010.

The annual contest, now in its third year at Arizona State University, was created by Marilee Sellers of Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Ariz. For 10 years, it was a local fixture – part of the Flagstaff Festival of Science and the Mount Campus Science Day. In 2008, Sellers teamed up with ASU’s Charles Kazilek to bring the competition to the Web.

House Fly

The contest is housed online in connection with ASU’s popular children’s science education website “Ask A Biologist” created by Kazilek, director of technology innovation and outreach in ASU’s School of Life Sciences, in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Sporting the moniker “Dr. Biology,” Kazilek says the contest not only provides a chance for individuals to become engaged in viewing insects, but is also a great opportunity for learning to occur.

Visitors to “Ask A Biologist” have access to downloadable wallpapers, a poster and coloring pages. The site also houses modules designed to improve students’ basic reasoning skills and a variety of experiments and “how-to” projects. Additionally, viewers find stories about scientists and their career paths. The entire website activities offer students of all ages insight into the capacious field of biology, says Kazilek.Earwig

The creators of the Ugly Bug Contest added something new to the contest this year: the True Bug Story. The story teaches visitors that the word “bug” has a very specific usage within entomology, says Kazilek. The tale also explains that while all bugs are insects, not all insects are bugs. “True bugs” belong to a very specific subset of insects and the contest allows viewers to see some of them up close, explains Kazilek.

Each of the contest’s 10 competitors has a personal photo and biography on the website, complete with details such as its size, weight and Latin, genus and species names. The biographies also include interesting facts about the insects, which range from the enlightening to the somewhat frightening.

The images of the insects are taken using a scanning electron microscope, which allows viewers to explore a magnified view of the competitive world of bugs – a world that would otherwise be unattainable with the human eye. Viewers are provided with colorful mug shots of the bugs, as well as the original black-and-white images of the bugs as actually seen through the microscope. The two contrasting images provide viewers a kind of before and after view that few can see outside of a laboratory.Milkweed Bug

Bugbook, another new feature of the contest, gives viewers a look at bugs as they’ve never been seen before. Modeled after the homepage of the social networking site Facebook, Bugbook is filled with the bug’s own status updates and comments to each other. The comments reveal each bug’s personal thoughts about the contest, while giving viewers some unique insights into the life of a bug. “What’s on your mind” comments include some of the bug’s thoughts on the current results of the contest.

With more than 400 votes, the jewel wasp was leading in the polls. Also known as Nasonia vitripennis, this winged stinger is one of the spookiest critters in the contest. The jewel wasp lays its eggs inside a living host. As the eggs hatch, the larvae eat the host from the inside out.

Will the jewel wasp win the title of Ugly Bug Champion 2010? Only the public can decide. To seal this bug’s fate, a vote can be cast at http://askabiologist.asu.edu/activities/ubc. There, a new, real-time tabulation feature will show how each vote is counted toward making “some lucky bug’s dream come true,” says Kazilek.

Last year’s champion, the snake fly, might be considered by some far less fearsome in the insect world in comparison to the jewel wasp. Kazilek admits that his favorite bug this year, the yellow dragonfly, resembles a character one might see in the Disney movie “Monsters Inc.”

When asked what draws people to the competition, which has already received almost 1,800 votes, Kazilek said: “Most people don’t have a scanning electron microscope. The contest presents an opportunity to see these insects up close in a way that you typically are unable to.”

The Ugly Bug Contest offers an intimate look at some of the insects who inhabit our world and who are often overlooked, he says. While one main objective of the contest is to allow visitors to become engaged in science, Kazilek notes that another goal is “capturing the imagination.”

The contest is sponsored by Northern Arizona University Imaging and Histology Core Facility, Dow AgroSciences, and ASU’s International Institute for Species Exploration, School of Life Sciences and W. M. Keck Bioimaging Laboratory.

Beucher & Son Will Keep The Creepy Crawlers Out Of Your Home!

Call Us Now!     727-388-6759

Tale of the Headless Dragonfly: Ancient Struggle, Preserved in Amber

In a short, violent battle that could have happened somewhere this afternoon, the lizard made a fast lunge at the dragonfly, bit its head off and turned to run away. Lunch was served.


Headless dragonfly. This ancient species of dragonfly is seen largely intact in amber, missing only a few feet and its head – presumable in the mouth of the lizard seen fleeing at the left. (Credit: Photo by George Poinar)

But the battle didn’t happen today, it happened about 100 million years ago, probably with dinosaurs strolling nearby. And the lizard didn’t get away, it was trapped in the same oozing, sticky tree sap that also entombed the now-headless dragonfly for perpetuity.

This ancient struggle, preserved in the miracle of amber, was just described by researchers from Oregon State University in Paleodiversity, a professional journal. It announced the discovery of a new sub-family of dragonflies in the oldest specimen of this insect ever found in amber.

More importantly, the study and others like it continue to reveal the similarities of behaviors and ecosystems separated by many millions of years, said George Poinar, a professor emeritus at Oregon State University. Poinar is one of the world’s leading experts on life forms found preserved in this semi-precious stone that acts as a natural embalming agent.

“Dragonflies are still eaten by small lizards every day, it’s a routine predator/prey interaction,” Poinar said. “This shows once again how behaviors of various life forms are retained over vast amounts of time, and continues to give us insights into the ecology of ancient ecosystems.”

Dragonflies are one of the world’s more colorful, interesting and successful insects, Poinar said, having managed to survive for a very long time. This is the oldest fossil ever found in amber, but other stone fossil specimens of dragonflies date back as much as 300 million years, including some that were huge, with wingspans up to three feet.

Amber is a semi-precious stone that originates as the sap from certain trees. Later fossilized through millions of years of pressure, it’s unique for the ability to capture and preserve in near-lifelike form small plant, animal or insect specimens that provide data on ancient ecosystems.

“Dragonflies are now, and probably were then, very quick, evasive, and greedy predators,” Poinar said. “They feed on other larvae and insects, mosquitoes, gnats, lots of things. Some are quite beautiful, very popular with insect collectors. And some modern populations like to migrate regionally, going south to mate.”

But as the new amber specimen shows, dragonflies are now and for a long time have also been prey, particularly of small lizards. Young and hatchling dinosaurs also probably dined on them, Poinar said.

The quick and merciless battle preserved in this stone took place in the Early Cretaceous somewhere between 97 million to 110 million years ago in the jungles of the Hukawng Valley of Burma, now known as Myanmar. The dragonfly — with one notably missing part — is preserved almost perfectly. Only the foot and tail of a small lizard remains in the stone, presumably as the animal was trying to flee.

“It’s unfortunate we don’t have the entire specimen of the lizard, because it probably had the dragonfly’s head in its mouth,” Poinar said. “Both died when they were trapped in the tree sap in the middle of this duel.”

Like a never-ending feud, these battles are still going on today. Scientists have documented in some sites near waterfalls in Costa Rica that there are many dragonflies of a certain species. But if lizards are present, there are no dragonflies — it appears they all get eaten.

Sometimes things change. Sometimes they don’t.

 

Baby Gators & Gopher Turtles at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve

While my daughter and grand kids were visiting, Brandon and I took them to Boyd Hill Nature Preserve. The kids loved the wild alligators that “slink” around the catwalk amongst the cattails. 

 

 Brandon is teaching the girls how to gently put a lizard to sleep by rubbing it’s belly. 

 Once the lizard wakes up, he just sat there on her finger for a long time.

 

 My daughter, Renea is very good at taking pictures of the girls.

 The girls loved the baby alligators that hang out near the boardwalk that “juts” out onto Lake Maggorie.

Boyd Hill was the coolest place on earth for me as a child. At that time, the park was loaded with caged animals. Everything from huge depressed black bears to feces throwing chimpanzees. Now most of the imprisoned animals have been removed except for the usual characters of the forest. 

Gohper turtles use to be prolific around the park and now, sadly enough,  there are very few remaining.  

                                                                                                                                                     

Boyd Hill Nature Preserve is located along the shores of Lake Maggiore in St. Petersburg. The 245-acre award-winning park features: 

 

 

 More than three miles of trails and boardwalks. 

  • Five unique ecosystems: hardwood hammocks, sand pine scrub, pine flatwoods, willow marsh and lake shore.
  • Interpretive programming on a variety of environmental and natural history topics.
  • Part of the Great Florida Birding Trail.
  • Annual butterfly count with the North American Butterfly Association.
  • Bird of prey aviary.
  • Guided tours, group rentals and overnight camping facilities available.
  • Picnic areas, playground and gift shop. 

 

 

Gopher Turtle Facts

Information from Gopher Turtle Facts at gopherturtle.org 

Pictures taken at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, St. Pete. Fl by Beucher and Son.

The gopher tortoise (gopherus polyphemus) belongs to a group of land tortoises that originated in North America 60 million years ago, thus making it one of the oldest living species. 

The gopher tortoises can be found throughout the state of Florida and southern areas of Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama and the tip of Eastern Louisiana. They dig their burrows in dry habitats. The gopher tortoise grows on average to be about slightly less than one foot long and weighs about 29 pounds, though they have been found to be as big as 16 inches. 

 

The gopher tortoise is unique in that it is one of the few tortoises to actually make large burrows.  Many tortoises hide under vegetations or use very shallow burrows. 

 

 

The gopher tortoise is a turtle as all tortoises are turtles, but not all turtles are tortoises. Ray Ashton states in his literature for the GTCI, think of them as a cow with a shell.  They graze on vegetation just like cows, and therefore, are important players in spreading seeds.  Gopher tortoises also have chiseled looking front feet (flippers) and elephant like hind legs. 

 

 

The gopher tortoise is a very important part of the local ecology.  As in any food web, if you start taking certain flora or fauna out of the equation, then you can adversely affect the survival of that ecosystem.  The  gopher tortoise is especially important because the burrows, which are dug by the tortoises, also provide homes for other animals, such as indigo snakes, gopher frogs, mice, foxes, skunks, opossums, rabbits, quail, armadillos, burrowing owls, snakes, lizards, frogs, toads and other invertebrates, gopher tortoise burrows are home to about 250 species of animals at one time or another. Some species share the burrows with the tortoises and others utilize abandoned burrows.  Since the burrows are used by so many species, it does not take a rocket scientist to see that removing the tortoises from the local habitat would leave many animals without homes.  True, some of these animals will be able to relocate, but there are a few species that are found only in these burrows. 

 

The gopher tortoise digs and lives in burrows, The burrows are their homes.  The burrow provides protection from predators and the elements, and also during extreme conditions on the surface such as drought, freezing weather, and fires.  The burrows can vary in length and depth.  These variables are usually determined by the level of the water table.  Burrows can be as short as about 6 – 10 feet long, but they average around 30 feet with a record of approximately 50 ft.  (Ashton 2001).  Depths vary from around 3 – 20 feet deep.  The burrows vary in shape, with most being straight or with only slight curves. 

 

The gopher tortoise is a rather plain looking turtle as far as colors go. They are either a dark tan, or gray. Their front legs are broad and flat, almost like a shovel. Their back legs look just like an elephant’s legs. The top part of their shell is fairly flat, The adult gopher tortoise is a rather drab looking animal, which is in stark contrast for the brightly colored hatchlings. 

 

Gopher tortoises are primarily herbivores and feed on many species of low-growing plants.  The largest part of their diet consists of grasses and legumes.  They also eat gopher apple, pawpaw, blackberries, saw palmetto berries, and other fruits. Gopher tortoises will also scavenge and are opportunistic feeders, occasionally feeding on dead animals or excrement. 

Gopher tortoises rarely drink (or are rarely seen drinking) from standing water.  They can use their front flipper like legs to dam-up water as it runs down their burrow during a rain.  Most of the water they get comes from the food they eat.  During periods of extreme drought they have been seen drinking standing water on the side of the road. 

In Florida gopher tortoises are on the Endangered Species List, categorized as a Threatened Species. This means that their current numbers are dropping but we are not sure exactly how much, several studies presently being conducted on the tortoises are tiring to more accurately answer this question. Their primary reason for being endangered is a loss of habitat. In the past many tortoises were killed either for food, or by people who were trying to kill the rattlesnakes that often share their burrows. 

WARNING:  Rattlesnakes are a common occurrence around gopher turtle mounds. All photos  were taken this close to the opening of the gopher burrow because we are experienced snake hunters and we know exactly how to be sure the area is safe from poisonous snakes.  Never get your hands close to the opening of a gopher hole and watch where you step when around the gopher hole. We have seen rattlesnakes laying in the opening and under the surrounding brush of a gopher hole many times!

 

We can all help gopher tortoises in the wild by preserving their upland habitats. Or, if you happen to see a tortoise, or turtle for that matter, trying to cross a road, please help them safely across the street without changing the direction in which they were traveling. Also, it is very important to never transport tortoises out of their habitat. It only takes one sick tortoise to infect an entire population of healthy tortoises. 

 

THE END