KABT Fall Meeting

Annual Fall KABT Meeting at KU Field Station in Lawrence!!!

Mark your calendar.  KABT would like to invite you to attend the 2010 fall KABT meeting scheduled for

When:  Sept. 11th

Where:   KU Field Station, 350 Wild Horse Road, Lawrence, KS 66044


View KABT 2010 Fall Meeting in a larger map

Registration will be from 8:30-9:00 a.m.  We are charging a modest $10 registration fee.

The sessions will include

  • Model Organisms in the Lab
  • Herpetology Field Work in Costa Rica
  • KS Biotechnology Opportunities
  • Snake Hunting at KU Biotic Succession Area.

Free Topographic Maps through Google Earth

MapFinder: A USGS Topographic Map Index

“MapFinder for Google Earth is a “.kmz” application that loads into Google Earth and shows the 7.5 minute quad USGS topographic map boundaries for the lower 48 states.  Each boundary has an identification point that givse you information about the USGS topo map.  This information includes the map name, scale, year, projection, and contour interval.  The most exciting feature of this application is that there is a download link that enables you to download the topographic map for free.”

Here are the steps:

  1. Download Google Earth at http://earth.google.com/download-earth.html.
  2. Download the MapFinder file at http://www.usgsquads.com/mapfinder.html.
  3. Browse to and open the “.kmz” file from within Google Earth.  When it opens, you will notice a menu within Google Earth that allows you to choose a state of interest.
  4. Once you have chosen a state, zoom in on that state and you will see the topographic map boundaries, each with a clickable blue information symbol.  Hover over a particular information symbol, and you will see the name of that topo map.  Upon clicking, a web page will open, where you will see a link to download a tiff file of that map.
  5. The tiff file is your free digital copy of the topographic map.

Have fun exploring the US digitally, but I hope these maps give you the knowledge to explore in the real world as well!

Something to do with Grass Clippings

Early this morning, before the full heat of the day, I mowed the lawn.  Having left it to grow for two weeks, I had to stop more frequently to empty the bag onto our compost heap in the back yard.  Like many times before, I noticed that some flying insects were attracted to the new piles of grass clippings.  They hovered around like the hymenoptera in a recent post, but on a much smaller scale.  So, after finished my duties, I decided to observe for awhile and learn a little bit.  Here is what happened…

This is what this swarming looked like…

Then I witnessed this…

In this video you will see a mating pair just above the center of the screen.  After moving around a bit you will notice another individual pester the couple.  Not long after the couple parts.  What I believe to be the male, flies off, while the female can be seen wandering through the grass clippings.  In one instance you may be able to make out that her abdomen in curled.  I hypothesize that she was laying eggs amongst the grass.

Here is another, longer, mating video.  If you watch long enough, after the female is mounted and released a second time, it appears that the male might be guarding her from other males.  It makes me want to research an easy method of capturing, marking, and releasing these insects to be more certain about what is going on.

In this final image it appears we may possiblly have a sneaker male.  Interestingly enough, this additional male appears to be smaller than the male that is mounted upon the female.  Look at the cicrumferance of the eyes (although I know that the perspective is not the same).

There you have it.  I imagine that this could be quite an easy observation to reproduce, all you need is a pile of grass clippings, and some of these insects in the vicinity.  In fact, students could most likely complete such an observation from home on their own.  I did notice that these flies were amongst the grass clippings the whole day and were even there in smaller numbers the following morning as well. 

Furthermore, it was quite easy to figure out what insect species these are using Insects in Kansas Field Guide published by the Kansas Department of Agriculture. 

So, what is the Order, Family, and species of insect imaged in this post?