Monday, September 21, 2015

Field identification of moldy hay with foldscope

Moldy Sudan Grass Hay
As a test of concept, I wanted to determine if a Foldscope cellphone microscope could be used for field identification of fungal growth on hay.  The answer is yes for the darker colored organisms.  I took a tease tape of the suspected hay material.  The 3M clear Scotch tape was attached to a microscope slide using clear fingernail polish as a mounting fluid.  The Epicoccum spp. and Alternaria spp. spores can be seen.  The Cladosporium spp. spores are tougher to pick out in the background.

Photo of Epicoccum spp. through Foldscope attached to Samsung Galaxy S-5 camera
Photo of Epicoccum spp. cropped and enlarged with Adobe Photoshop
Photo of Epicoccum spp., Alternaria spp.  and Cladosporium spp.  taken with Samsung Galaxy S-5 camera through the eyepiece of Nikon Microscope 400x.  The distance between 5 and 6 is 25 microns.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Giant water bug in pool skimmer

Jennifer Frazer in her Artful Amoeba Blog for Scientific American provides a good profile on the opportunistic assassin known commonly as the Giant water bug.  This insect was found in my pool skimmer basket this summer 2015.  I found a smaller juvenile water bug later this summer.  The bite of this insect can be painful and caution is advised when handling them. 

Giant water bugs (Belostomatidae family) Lethocerus americanus are attracted to lights.  It's amazing that an insect 4 inches in length can fly. During my youth I saw one in my front yard in at my house and added it to my 4-H entomology collection .   There was no water around so it appeared to be out of place.  More information is available from the Texas Master Gardner's Beneficial insect page.

Giant Water Bug life cycle - 1 min.