This is a Giant Water Bug. The body is 7 cm long.
Also called a Toe-Biter, apparently has one of the worst insect bites in North America.
The speciman above was obtained in Corvalis, Oregon. I found it dead and let it dry, pinned to a board. I then found a glass ash try at a Goodwill and encased the bug in two layers of Easy Cast epoxy. I’ve had trouble with epoxy in the past, including bubbles, poor mixing/amounts (causing it to never harden), and embedded items floating to the surface. Luckily, it turned out pretty well this time!
The Giant Water Bug is in the order Hemiptera, shared with cicadas, leaf hoppers, and aphids. A defining feature in this order is a beak that is used to pierce plants to suck sap, or in this case, defend against curious human hands and pierce prey.
Giant Water Bugs are aquatic predators that live in slow flowing water like ponds and lakes. They lie in wait for their unsuspecting prey which can range from other aquatic insects, to fish and frogs. When they strike, they grip their prey firmly with their front legs like a praying mantis and use their beak to inject a digestive enzyme and suck up the liquidy remains (*slurp!*). Here’s some youtube footage of a Giant Water Bug making a meal out of a goldfish.
A few years ago, I had two smaller (~3 cm long) water bugs as pets in an aquarium, like the one below (a different genus than the large bug above). They were neat, but I found I had to practically force feed them crickets held with tweezers (like this video). Also, to the distress of my roommate and guests, one mysteriously disappeared through the screen roof of the aquarium…
I finally took the time to practice my macro photo skills with my non-macro lens on these earrings I made with resistors my Mom found in the garage. I thought I was on to something new, but it’s all been done before. The second pair below is up for grabs!
I was in a baking craze after those lemon drop cookies and made a chocolate pound cake inspired by this recipe. I didn’t have a heart shaped cookie cutter, so I just sliced the hearts by hand, how hard could it be?
What I learned:
(a) Cookie cutters are helpful.
(b) Whole wheat flour really is different than all purpose flour, really.
(c) I will never make this again. Pound cake that took 3 times longer to make just to get a heart inside? Eh sorry, I don’t love you that much!
Instead of using tons of red food coloring for the cake, I replaced some of the sugar with red sugar sprinkles (which of course have no red food coloring..)
Crooked heart surprise:
Food blogs are all the rage these days (see foodgawker or smitten kitchen). Always complete with photos walking you through the entire recipe, and finishing with mouth watering macros of the finished product. So I thought, why not?
Perusing through Valentines Day recipes, I was inspired by this post, and made smaller chocolate hearts to place on these Lemon Drop cookies topped with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting.
I learned that (a) it’s incredibly frustrating to feel like you should stop every 10 minutes to wash your hands and take a stupid photo to put on your blog, (b) I bake in the evenings, when the lighting is not ideal, and (c) for my first experience taking the time to neatly blop frosting on, I now have an appreciation for bakers at My Little Cupcake.
Making the batter:
My first time zesting a lemon!
Fish view of cooling cookies:
I tried downhill skiing a few weeks ago and it ended in some bruises. But like these nifty ski-themed magnets I’ve made, I plan to stick with it.
My good friend Alia made these earrings for me by laminating cicada wings:
Similarly, Michelle created these:
Apparently, you can pay up to $50 for a fresh centerpiece like this! But thanks to our friend Jackie, we all got to make and take our own pieces home for the holidays.