Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Springtail Video

Dan Crane gave me a jar full of black powder to identify last week, swearing that they were bugs that had been covering an area of his cousin's driveway and walk, stacked deep on each other.  He had used a paint brush to sweep them into the jar.  Now several days later they were dead and resembled coffee beans that had been ground way past fine.

Given their size, the location of the thick mat described and the recent rain I guessed immediately that they were springtails having written about them in this blog last year. I didn't expect I would be able to identify them at this time but put them under the microscope anyway.

Even with my modest instrument I was able to identify them as springtails.  Identifying the species is way beyond me and even most entomologists* but I was intrigued by the bright iridescent blue-green color they exhibited when lit from the side.

Springtails clustered on stone- Georgia P.
Since I had written about springtails before I wasn't going to repeat it.  Meanwhile I sent these pictures to Dr. Chris Barnhart and he responded with a fascinating David Attenborough video which was just too good to pass up.  After all, who could fail to love pictures of a speck of dust jumping the equivalent of the Empire State Building and rolling over from its back by using its spit?

After that introduction, I dare you to skip The Incredible Springtail.
2017 Linda Bower's video of a water Springtail feeding if a fun view.
* An exceptional entomologist who described many springtail species was John Lubbock who wrote this classic monograph in 1873, now available free on Google Play.  He did this while being a successful British banker, MP, philanthropist, biologist, establishing archaeology as a scientific discipline, and influencing nineteenth-century debates concerning evolutionary theory.  He wrote books on hymenoptera and other scientific subjects.  He sired six children, although how he found the time hasn't been recorded.  Thanks Chris.

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