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August 20, 2003

Creature From The Pit

Walking in to the office this morning I spotted a cicada on one of the bricks in the Pit, the UNC campus equivalent of a sunken living room. All the happening protests occur there, most of the student organizations recruit there, and when the Campus Crusade for Christ ministers feel like haranging the co-eds, they do so from the Pit.

Spotting a cicada this time of year is no surprise. It's about time for them to start dying off, but this one looked like it had been dipped in jelly ---Carolina blue jelly, appropriately enough. This was sufficient to exceed what is in all honesty a fairly low threshold of curiosity when the subject of bugs comes up.

If some one asks, "Hey, want to see a bug covered in goo?" my answer is always going to be in the positive.

Once I picked up the cicada, however, it was pretty evident that whatever the goo was, it wasn't jelly. Here's a pic.

Whatever it is appears to be inside the wing membrane, blowing it up like a ballon, rather than smeared on the outside. It may be a parasite of some kind, or a fungus. It could even be evidence of internal bleeding, assuming the veins in the wing actually are veins rather than some type of support structure. I'm hoping Fred will know, but in case he does not I've mailed the pic out to a few bug profs as well.

Update: Got email back from the NC State Entymology Dept. They theorize that the cicada is simply malformed, that the goo is haemolymph, aka bug blood.

Posted by Bigwig at August 20, 2003 12:00 PM | TrackBack
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Comments

It would be interesting to see what shows up in that goo under a 'scope. My guess would be fungal vs algal. And my guess is, this is not exactly a 'type specimen' and everything from body shape to color may be way off due to the Blog From Tralfamador that seems to be having it, slowly, for breakfast. Let me know what you find out.

Posted by: fredf at August 20, 2003 01:30 PM

That is pretty intriguing. I would also be interesting in seeing what it looks like under a scope. Are you able to use a syringe of some type to get a sample of the substance?

Posted by: Tony S. at August 20, 2003 03:47 PM

Um, maybe the little guy just got dunked into a mint julep.

Posted by: Jim at August 20, 2003 07:17 PM

It looks like one that has recently broken out of its shell and has not thoroughly dried out yet. The wings are very wet for the first few hours. Nothing scientific about this, of course. I used to live beside a tree that harbored these interesting little phenomenon of nature, and this was my observation.

Posted by: Indigo at August 20, 2003 11:29 PM

It looks just plain gross to me, but then, you knew I'd say that.

Posted by: Meryl Yourish at August 25, 2003 06:48 PM
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