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1  General Category / Words / Re: Hey, dude on: June 13, 2019, 05:45:17 PM
Fascinating - especially the origin of 'silhouette' and the side note on the origin of 'mob'.

Thank you Mike.

Speaking of silhouette, Lamborghini made a car called the Silhouette in the late 1970s. It was a version of the Urraco with a removable roof panel. Here's a photograph of one.

If you wanted one at the time, it blew a 13,600 hole in the wallet. You could buy a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow for less money back in 1978, or alternatively buy a 3-bedroom semi-detached house (though not in London - even then, house prices were inflated in the capital, but not to the ridiculous extent they are now).

In the US market, one of these cars would cost $27,000 back in 1978. I'll let the Americans here tell us all what you could get for that money in 1978, as they know far better than I do about this. Smiley


2  General Category / Whatever / Re: Nature pics on: May 31, 2019, 06:48:53 AM
That's almost certainly a mere coincidental pairing. The larvae look as if they're moth larvae of some sort, and the large black insect is a Tipulid crane fly. Crane flies are short lived as adults, and many do not feed at all in the adult stage. Furthermore, crane fly larvae are rather diverse - some are terrestrial (known as "leatherjackets", and eaten by insectivorous birds), while others are aquatic, the aquatic larvae being found in fresh water, brackish and even some fully marine habitats. The terrestrial larvae are usually feeders upon various plant roots, and some species can become agricultural pests because of this behaviour. Aquatic larvae will feed upon pond bottom detritus, aquatic plants, and a few have transitioned to become carnivorous, feeding upon Daphnia and copepods among other organisms. None of the crane flies exhibit parasitism during any part of their life cycles, so those larvae in your photo are perfectly safe.

Your photo also shows in excellent detail, a feature common to all Diptera - the halteres. These are modifications of the second pair of wings, and in your photo appear as those glass-like strands ending in a blob. These are balancing organs used for orienting the insect in flight. All Diptera have halteres, but these organs are more conspicuous in some flies than others, and are particularly noticeable in those flies whose halteres bear bright colouration. For example, there's a truly enormous (by the usual standards of the Family) Genus of flies living in Panama, the Genus Pantophthalmus, whose adults resemble super-sized bluebottles, and which have halteres that look as if they've been formed from extruded cornflower blue plastic! Here's a photo of one of these large flies, and you can see the blue blobs in that photo - these are the halteres.

Meanwhile, back to the crane flies. There are, wait for it, fifteen thousand species of these worldwide. The UK fauna contains approximately 300 species, but only a minority of these can be identified to species level visually - the remainder are usually dissection jobs. One of the easiest to identify is Tipula maxima, courtesy of the fact that it's almost twice the size of any other UK species, and has patterned wings to accompany its large size. Your specimen looks superficially as if it could be one of the Phantom Craneflies of the Genus Ptychoptera, in particular Ptychoptera albimana, but dissection of the specimen would be needed to be absolutely sure.
3  General Category / Whatever / Re: Nature pics on: May 16, 2019, 09:37:11 AM
My garden in Thailand is full of wonderful butterflies most of the year round;
what I want to know is how to get them to come and sit on your finger?
Believe me, I've tried many times. They just don't want to know.

In the case of your species in Thailand, you may find that dipping your finger in salt water makes them more receptive. There's a reason for this.

Basically, many tropical butterflies seek salt sources to tap into, because they live in environments where salt is relatively scarce, and doesn't migrate up their part of the food web in sufficient quantities to keep them osmotically balanced if they don't seek additional sources thereof. One major source of salt for such butterflies, is the urine of various large mammals. Whenever a large mammal urinates on the ground, butterflies of numerous species flock to the spot, and drink the urine to obtain salt.

As a corollary, if you dip your finger in salt water, you'll find that a good many tropical butterflies will happily sit on your finger drinking the salt water from your finger, and you can take photos of them while they're doing this. Of course, you need to exercise a certain gentle touch coaxing them to climb on to your finger in the first place, but the moment they sense the presence of salt on your finger, they'll become much easier to persuade in this regard.

This tip should work for butterflies right across the tropics.

Best time to try this is early in the morning, before the sun has warmed them up properly, and they're still relatively docile. Try this on a hot afternoon when they're active, and you'll simply experience more frustration, unless they're really desperate for the salt.

In the case of my Green Hairstreaks, they were still docile because they hadn't warmed up properly, and were willing to climb onto my finger until the sun had warmed them up. Once they were warmed up, however, it was "Game Over". Cheesy
4  General Category / Whatever / Re: Nature pics on: May 15, 2019, 03:18:36 PM
Second specimen sitting on my finger ...
5  General Category / Whatever / Re: Nature pics on: May 15, 2019, 03:17:55 PM
... and the extreme close up ... Smiley
6  General Category / Whatever / Re: Nature pics on: May 15, 2019, 03:17:14 PM
Another specimen of Green Hairstreak ...
7  General Category / Whatever / Re: Nature pics on: May 15, 2019, 03:16:24 PM
Latest butterfly: Green Hairstreak, Callophrys rubi ... and yes, it's posing for a photo whilst resting on my finger Smiley
8  General Category / Word Games / Re: Tilipia - new word? on: May 02, 2019, 12:31:41 PM

Just to point out at this juncture, many of the fishes previously placed in the Genus Tilapia have since been relocated to other Genera, such as Sarotherodon. There's also a brace of Genera among the African Cichlids that contain -tilapia as a suffix, such as Chromidotilapia, Astatotilapia, Chilotilapia, Coelotilapia, Cynotilapia, Cyphotilapia (the species Cyphotilapia frontosa is an expensive aquarium fish costing $200 a pop in the US), Hemitilapia, Heterotilapia, Limnotilapia, Paratilapia, Petrotilapia (the species Petrotilapia tridentiger is a beautiful purple coloured aquarium fish, but one with a vicious temperament), and Xenotilapia.

There's also a brace of relations such as Alcolapia alcalicus, which lives in the waters of Lake Natron, an environment most people would consider to be completely inimical to fish life, given that the water of this lake is as as alkaline as a household ammonia solution, and has a dissolved content of sodium carbonate that would kill most other fish.

Here's an image of the nice purple Petrotilapia tridentiger:



The woefully expensive Cyphotilapia frontosa looks like this:



The Dogtooth Cichlid, Cynotilapia afra, looks like this:



And the hilariously named "Eastern Happy", Astatotilapia calliptera, looks like this:



For those who like variety among their fish, the Cichlidae contains something like 2,500 species, of which 1,700 or more are African, and 1,400 or so known from the Rift Lakes.


9  General Category / Whatever / Re: Nature pics on: April 22, 2019, 09:39:19 AM

And this tiny moth (just 4 mm long) is awaiting ID, but I'm already being told that it's possibly the wonderfully named Dyseriocrania subpurpurella ... doesn't this one have a really cute face?  Cheesy
10  General Category / Whatever / Re: Nature pics on: April 22, 2019, 09:37:16 AM

An oddity at the moth trap, in the form of an unidentified Brown Lacewing ...
11  General Category / Whatever / Re: Nature pics on: April 22, 2019, 09:36:03 AM

And this one is a lifetime first ... Waved Umber ...
12  General Category / Whatever / Re: Nature pics on: April 22, 2019, 09:35:02 AM

Next, one of my moth trapping finds, in the form of Pine Beauty ...
13  General Category / Whatever / Re: Nature pics on: April 22, 2019, 09:33:36 AM

Next, a new species to add to my tally for the cycle track! Say hello to Corizus hyoscyami ...
14  General Category / Whatever / Re: Nature pics on: April 22, 2019, 09:32:06 AM

Next, Coreus marginatus, or Dock Bug ...
15  General Category / Whatever / Re: Nature pics on: April 22, 2019, 09:30:40 AM

Next, how's this for a tiny weevil? Tentatively identified as Dorytomus tortrix. Specimen is just 2.5 mm long.
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