What a little excited mercury can do

Knock knock?
Who’s there?
Nocturnal insects.
Nocturnal insects who?
Nocturnal insects who are fascinating, and may be observed with the use of fluorescent lighting.

To be perfectly candid, I am not even certain as to whether the above could be deemed a joke, noting that it isn’t at all funny.  Oh well, I tried.

And now, we wait.

As you might have been able to derive from the feeble humor, I’ve been scouring the night for insects, subsequently (and accidentally) stumbling upon additional fauna.  I’d long wished to try to utilize what is colloquially termed a “black light” (id est, a lamp emitting electromagnetic radiation in the near ultraviolet range) to attract nocturnal species; although I have not yet purchased a lamp within which at least one phosphor layer has an emission spectrum tailored to the stereotypical insect’s eye sensitivity curve, I simply couldn’t resist the urge to venture outside yesterday night in the hopes of encountering, well, something.  As a result, I found myself in the yard with a rather commonplace fluorescent light, a large polystyrene board (to act as a makeshift light sheet), several pieces of thin plastic film (to be used in preventing insects from venturing into the lamp, and thus being harmed), my PowerShot, and a can of Pringles.

Albeit that rewards are often few and far better whilst awaiting species, being outside on an August night is rather a joy unto itself.  The breeze is thick, balmy, and soft, Gryllidae sing furiously, and both of the aforementioned bring one’s thoughts to the Arrhenius equation.  Yay!

For the first few minutes, next to nothing occurred – several beautiful little P. lotor were out and about, curiously peering from their comfortably concealed tree-top hideaways.  Photographs were an exercise in futility – here’s one.

If you’ve ever wondered why most animals’ eyes shine when subjected to light at night, then read on! The “glowing” captured in this photograph occurs by dint of the tapetum lucidum, an aptly-named structure found behind the retina of many animals. A collection of fifteen layers of guanine-containing cells, it reflects any light that was not captured upon passing through the retina. Our lacking this component is the reason for the “red-eye” phenomenon as it occurs in humans.

Within a few minutes, miscellaneous, tiny insects were, for lack of a better word, splayed across the plastic.  Videos of their interactions will soon be visible on my Facebook page.  To be brief, nothing notable occurred – small moths presented themselves, alongside many miniscule flies; some members of Ephemeroptera showed up, followed by Tipulidae, several beetles, and Cicadellidae.

I’d gone out with the hopes of having trouble identifying someone; my wish was granted.  I was stunned to see this absolutely gorgeous specimen; the photographs don’t do him justice.  I won’t make speculations; I’ll be certain to make note of my figuring him out when I do so.

With that done, I strolled around the yard; I was overjoyed to stumble upon some ten Limax maximus as they glided past.  I must admit that I haven’t ever understood why certain people think “mollusc” to be synonymous with “icky” – members of this phylum move with such regal grace, such acquired ease, that it’s admirable.

Speaking frankly, there wasn’t much else to the night – I did manage to see a Lasius flavus colony just adjacent to a patch of basil.  Besides that, I caught up with Armadillidium vulgare, Porcellio scaber, Oniscus asellus, Phalangium opilio, Scutigera coleoptrata, et cetera.  I will be attempting to find something of interest again tonight, and most probably nearly every night hereafter.

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