Friday, October 20, 2017

Asp a.k.a. puss caterpillars

These have been a hot news item lately in Central Texas.  I did a news interview & Facebook Live broadcast yesterday to talk about them.
Asp or puss caterpillar
While these teardrop shaped caterpillars look soft and touchable, they are NOT! Asps have spines attached to venom glands that can lead to a nasty sting, rash, and other issues. Some people may have a more severe reaction than others and where you are stung (thickness of the skin) can effect things. You can read my previous post on asps HERE.

KVUE story here:

My technical skills are lacking, so I have no idea how to share the Facebook Live video outside of Facebook, but if you want to see it you can go to KVUE's Facebook page to find it.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Glowing Scorpions

Emperor scorpionTuesday evening, I had the opportunity to attend KLRU's Next Nights.  Since it's October, they wanted some "spooky" things, so I headed over with the menagerie of arthropods.  Unknown to me until about half way through the event, the night was to showcase Strange Town, KLRU's show on paranormal adventures.  Apparently, the location of the event is haunted!  To fit in with the paranormal/ haunting theme, the event was
lighted appropriately, but fortunately we had flashlights to highlight things that were a bit difficult to see with the lights dimmed.  The lighting did help to highlight one of the specimens in a most excellent manner- my Emperor scorpion.  I had brought a black light with me to set over the tank and it was glowing beautifully!

Emperor scorpion glowing under UV light.When scorpions have the capability (as not all scorpions will glow) to fluoresce, both live and dead specimens glow under ultraviolet (black) light. The glow comes from chemicals that are found within the cuticle which is part of the exoskeleton. Fluorescence occurs as a result of sclerotization (hardening of the exoskeleton) and becomes more pronounced with each successive molt.  Scientists are unsure why scorpions glow.

Many scorpion collectors take advantage of this fact by utilizing a UV light at night to locate and find scorpions. Are you brave enough to shine a black light in your backyard to see what's lurking there?