Garden snails in windowsill pots (Vallonia exentrica or V. pulchella); elongated snail (Cochlicopa lubrica).

Garden snails appearing in potted, windowsill plants: circular snails (Vallonia exentrica or V. pulchella); elongated snail (Cochlicopa lubrica).

Observations of elongated and concentric snails, in potted, windowsill plants (indoor ambience: 15°C & 73% RH) prompted their removal and examination initially with a Tor-Deluxe Triple Tested 600X (eyepiece lenses: 10X & 15X; stage objective lenses: 8X, 20X & 40X; magnifications: 80X & 120X, 200X & 300X, and 400X & 600X, respectively) five aperture portable optical microscope (25cm in height). The magnified image at 80X was considerable. Two varieties were observed: elongated, tapered shell (one of 5mm) and spiral, concentric shell (six of 2mm). Their shells were pale cream in colour which darkened after feeding. Their propensity to accumulate in clusters on soil clods, bits of bark, stems and the sides of pots, was evident. Soil mixes were created from local patches, used tea leaves, chopped banana skins, sand and garden mulch (ref. Cooper, R.G. 2023. Plants & Wild Species. The Netherlands: Lulu Press Ltd.). However, their identity remains unknown. Location: Highgate and Caldmore, Walsall, UK.

Their rapid reproduction and propensity to eat the vegetation of potted plants, can be a significant consideration to the serious indoor plant cultivator.

由使用者 rgcooper2023 rgcooper20232023年12月23日 18:58 所貼文 | 1 個觀察記錄 | 0 評論 | 留下評論


Fava (broad) bean (Vicia faba)

Fava (broad) bean (Vicia faba) (Kingdom: Plantae, Order: Fabales, Family: Fabaceae). An experiment was conducted in which within-date broad bean seeds were sowed into agar blocks soaked and submerged for 15 minutes in tap water (control), auxin and gibberellin (n=6). The germination thereof was monitored, being especially significant over 4 weeks in the gibberellin plants. Regular fine-sprays of these plant hormones, in addition to tap water, were performed every two days, into the respective pots. Rapidly germinating, broad beans are suitable experimental plants for students/enthusiasts studying botany or agriculture, and an understanding of their nutrition contribution, is an essential part of the curricula of human and animal studies. A Spearman’s Rank Correlation Coefficient Test (p<0.05) was performed by week of the expected previously published mean growth rate data vs. the experimental recordings. Gibberellin seedlings attained a height of ca.15cm after 4 weeks under lamp (ca.65% RH, ca.21°C). Average mature leaf length was 5-5.9cm and occupied a ventral area (perimeter tracing on graph paper: half or more of a 1cm2 area taken as a full square) of ca.10-15cm2. All leaves had a strong, mulch-humus scent at pick, and, indeed, the beans strongly flavour food recipes like falafel. The plant is a species of vetch and widely cultivated as a crop for human consumption or as a cover crop. Some varieties are fed to herbivores, e.g. horse bean (V. faba var. equina). Rarely, individuals suffering from a metabolism disorder Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PDD), develop a haemolytic response after consumption of boiled broad beans, whether dried or fresh. When the outer seed coat has been removed, the beans may be consumed raw or cooked, in addition to eating fresh seed pods in younger plants. The wild ancestor remains unknown, although charred broad beans were discovered at three Neolithic sites in Israel’s Lower Galilee region; radiocarbon dating thereof suggested that the domestication of this crop may have commenced at ca.8,250BC. As a cover crop, they are grown to prevent erosion as they can overwinter and, as a legume, they fix nitrogen (via Rhizobium sp.). Preferring rich loam soils, this species’ robustness means that it can withstand very cold climates, grow in soils with high salinity and also in waterlogged clay soil. Nutrient composition of broad beans includes ca.11% water, 58% carbohydrates, 26% protein and 2% lipid. Energy supply includes 1,425kJ/100g. Folate (106% Daily Value, DV) and manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and iron (52-77% DV), are significant. B-vitamins are present in moderate-rich proportions (19-48% DV). Broad beans present the highest protein:carbohydrate vs. pulses, e.g. chickpea, pea and lentil. Their consumption along with cereals is recommended as they supply essential amino acids (out of the 20 recognised). Harvesting usually commences in spring for plants grown in glass-houses, whereas horse beans harvested in late autumn, are consumed as a pulse. Young leaves and immature pods can be eaten raw or cooked. Beans removed from their pods can be steamed or boiled whole or, following parboiling, to loosen their exterior coat which is then discarded. Beans can also be fried resulting in the skin splitting open and then salted and/or spiced to present a savoury, crunchy snack.

Further investigations including the use of thin layer chromatography performed on crushed broad bean leaves in acetone and separation thereof in the dark using a volatile chromatography solvent. The chromatogram results of two separate experiments, show photosynthetic pigments separated out by relative molecular mass, adhesion and solubility, and are identified by qualitatively (by colour) and quantitatively (by Rf value).

Colour Rf value Pigment
Yellow 0.95 Carotene
Grey-brown 0.83 Phaeophytin
Yellow-brown 0.71 Xanthophyll
Blue-green 0.65 Chlorophyll a
Green 0.45 Chlorophyll b

由使用者 rgcooper2023 rgcooper20232023年12月20日 18:21 所貼文 | 1 個觀察記錄 | 0 評論 | 留下評論


Acute Bladder Snail (Physella acuta)

Journal details:

Confirmed identification: Acute Bladder Snail (Physella acuta) (Draparnaud, 1805) (Family: Physidae) is an invasive snail with a sinistral, air-breathing mechanism, that dwells in freshwater rivers, streams, ponds and swamps. It is also found in anthropogenic reservoirs and power station discharges, surviving under short-lived harsh conditions including extreme weather and pollution. It feeds on dead plant and animal matter, and other detritus. In the wild, it forages mainly on epiphytic vegetation and on macrophytes. Its presence potentially encourages the proliferation of invasive non-native macrophytes like Nuttall’s waterweed (Elodea nuttallii). It rapidly reproduces and has adapted well to UK waters. It is a self-compatible hermaphrodite and in experimental conditions, it is capable of self-fertilization over 20 generations. Its ecological impact on native flora and fauna was assessed by the UK Technical Advisory Group as ‘unknown’ under the Water Framework Directive Guidelines for Alien Species.

Initial consideration: Wandering Pond Snail, UK (Ampullaceana balthica, Linnaeus, 1758) (Class: Gastropoda, Order: Hygrophila, Family: Lymnaeidae). A very common snail in UK where it also leaves weed-filled pond environments, especially in still waters, onto damp patches, emergent vegetation and/or on to muddy banks. It remains in close proximity to the ponds and is a detritus feeder on water plants, algae and plant detritus. Specimens are also seen gliding on the top of water surfaces. Its shell diameter reaches ca.11-14mm and is tall-spired with a large operculum.

Specifics of the current observation: Tank snail associated with Elodea sp. pondweed; ca.0.8-1cm in length; angle of carapace projection ca.20°; mottled pale brown dark green camouflage shell markings with irregular borders (visible x40 optical microscope with 20um eyepiece divisions); glide speed on submerged transparent polystyrene ca.1.5cm/min.; consumes algae deposits and strong attraction to pelleted Daphnia sp. feed; precise subspecies identification unknown.

由使用者 rgcooper2023 rgcooper20232023年12月15日 19:00 所貼文 | 1 個觀察記錄 | 0 評論 | 留下評論


Phantom Midge

The Phantom Midge (Family: Chaoboridae) are commonly found in ponds and still waters. This example is a juvenile or larva (ca. 7mm in length) which is nearly transparent with a partially tallow cast. It has two opaque features or airbags (one in the thorax, one in the abdomen in the second last segment). The adult forms are differentiated by wing venation and delicate flies that closely resemble Chironomidae. This larva was found in a bag of purchased Daphnia and care therefore needs to be taken to distinguish minute pond creatures when studying them microscopically.

由使用者 rgcooper2023 rgcooper20232023年11月29日 08:23 所貼文 | 1 個觀察記錄 | 0 評論 | 留下評論


Cyclopoid Copepod

In a polythene bagged sample of freshwater 'Daphnia', microscopic examination was conducted on live specimens placed in a welled slide at x40 magnification, 160um in length. However, there were a substantial proportion of copepods present. The majority of free-living species feed on phytoplankton of ca. 373,000/day. Some of the larger species predate on smaller crustaceans. Benthic forms, with mouthparts adapted for scraping and biting, consume organic detritus and the bacteria growing in it. Many copepods are wholly parasitic (10) on their hosts and 3 are free-living. Hence, when one orders a sample of 'Daphnia', one has to ensure that the bag is not populated by copepods. The specimen recorded was tanked Cyclopoid Copepods, namely Acanthocyclops vernalis. These were found included with Daphnia sp. and therefore care needs to be taken when using these tiny creatures for microscopic study, so as it avoid any confusion. Ref.: Cooper, R.G. 2023. Cycloid Copepod. iNaturalist 27th November: 1.

由使用者 rgcooper2023 rgcooper20232023年11月27日 13:03 所貼文 | 1 個觀察記錄 | 0 評論 | 留下評論


Palophus reyi

A giant, unique, native Zimbabwean stick insect that has wings and lives off fresh shoots and twigs, including bark, plus various grasses, is an astonishing sight in and usually observed in Matabeleland in Zimbabwe. It is unknown if it is a protected species. Thanks to Ian McFarlane for assisting in spotting this giant of the insect world on his property in Hillside, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

由使用者 rgcooper2023 rgcooper20232023年08月29日 18:42 所貼文 | 1 個觀察記錄 | 1 評論 | 留下評論

Carausius morosus

This is a common flightless insect pet that feeds on privet leaves. The first image is of a juvenile. The second is of adults feeding on fresh privet leaves. They were originally collected in Tamil Nadu, India, but are commonly kept in cultures in captivity. The British also brought them back from India to Britain. They commonly live one year and lay their own eggs. Indian stick insects will reproduce in captivity even in the absence of a male, this is called parthenogenetic reproduction. Mature females will lay unfertilised eggs, that will still develop and hatch into nymphs without mating ever taking place. Any of the offspring produced asexually will be female and are often clones of their parents. When females reach adulthood they will begin to lay relatively small numbers of round eggs (ova) around 2mm in size, over their lifetime this can add up to hundreds. The ova are dark brown in colour and look like seeds. They can be carefully collected from the bottom of the cage and separated from any fallen plant matter and dried faeces; using small tweezers or a paint brush. Incubate the ova on dry tissue or vermiculite in a sealed container at room temperature. They normally take four months or more to hatch. Raise newly hatched nymphs separately to your adults for ease of maintenance and offer fresh food frequently. A mist spray of water is needed on the sides of their tank.

由使用者 rgcooper2023 rgcooper20232023年08月29日 09:31 所貼文 | 1 個觀察記錄 | 0 評論 | 留下評論

Daphnia sp.

A captive Daphnia magna from a local pond and its cultivation in a tank within a laboratory environment (x40 magnification, 1000um in length). Collection and microscopic observation of Dahnia magna are important to help study its life cycle, reproduction, feeding and heart beat within a welled slide. After use, they can be safely returned to their tank. They reproduce rapidly in captivity. These are ideal conditions to keep Daphnia in a tank: pH 7-8.6; O2d >6mg/L; hardness 160-180mg CaCo3/L; and light 16hr. light/8hr/dark. Feed them on pond algae.

由使用者 rgcooper2023 rgcooper20232023年08月29日 09:29 所貼文 | 1 個觀察記錄 | 0 評論 | 留下評論


A male Red-Veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii)

On a sunny, partly cloudy afternoon on the 13th August 2023, a dragon fly (4cm in length) with a reddish abdomen alighted onto an old railway sleeper on the bank of the main reservoir of the Lime Pits Nature Reserve, Rushall, UK (accessible on a footpath at the end of Leigh Road through a field of horses of Rushall Hall; via a car park at the end of Park Road just after crossing Daw End Bridge; via a barge on Rushall Canal approximately mid-way between Daw End and Riddian Bridges; or even on a bicycle along Beacon Way). Rushall Canal runs adjacent to the entrance on Park Road and the waters of the main reservoir are said to be connected via subterranean tunnels to Hatherton Lake located in the Arboretum. Long abandoned, the nature reserve is historically important as a place where lime was quarried to supply the steel furnaces of the Black Country. Its preservation has resulted in beautiful pools and lime suspended in channels of clear water, creating a shiny, entrancing marbling effect. It supports an abundance of flora and fauna including wild plums, shoals of bream, birdlife, rodents, foxes and numerous insects. One example thereof was photographed. Indeed, the dragonfly hovered tentatively in the sunshine before settling down and facing itself towards the direction of the main reservoir in the hope of darting out and capturing a midge or fly. According to the British Dragon-fly Society classification, it is a mature male Red-Veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) with a red frons and thorax, a single pale stripe on the side of the thorax, red wing veins, yellow wing bases, eyes (brown above and blue below) and pale pterostigma outlined in black, that breeds in large shallow water bodied. Since the 1980’s, records show that it is a fairly frequent migrant, although colonies are not stable. Its flight period is prominent in June-August.

由使用者 rgcooper2023 rgcooper20232023年08月14日 14:52 所貼文 | 1 個觀察記錄 | 0 評論 | 留下評論


Red Mahogany (Khaya anthotheca) in Chiranda Forest, Mount Selinda, Zimbabwe

The Big Tree growing in Chirinda Forest in Mt. Selinda, Zimbabwe, is the tallest indigenous tree in Zimbabwe, and a declared National Monument. The tree is 65 metres tall and 4.5 metres wide. Its age is approximately 1,000 years. The tree is located in the centre of Chirinda Forest (formerly known as Selinda) in southeast Zimbabwe at the southernmost part of the country's Eastern Highlands. Big Tree is a Khaya anthotheca or Nyasa redwood tree (previously referred to as Khaya nyasica). In December 1986, it reached 65 metres tall[1] and 5.25 metres wide. The trunk is heavily buttressed at the base, which complicates measurement. Big Tree is protected within the Chirinda Forest Botanical Reserve, administered by Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Estate. It sustained damage from people carving their initials into it. The tree is dying, indicated by its declining height and the loss of its topmost branches. Whether this is due to human damage or a natural process is unknown. I first observed this impressive tree in 2001 and photographed it. I included a description of it in my book, ‘The Flame Lily Weeps’ published by Pneumasprings Press Ltd.
This unique autobiography describes the life of a white Zimbabwean growing up in Rhodesia, Zimbabwe-Rhodesia and subsequently after the attainment of independence on 18th April 1980, in Zimbabwe, and, thereafter, his move and settling in the UK. It provides a comfortable, quick read and is not meant to be an exhaustive family, historical or political account. Instead, it was born from a desire to reveal and elucidate the perspectives and truth of poignant issues in the country’s transition from a British colony to an independent, one party state. This book also grants the reader an insight into the build-up of political and economic anarchy that has plunged Zimbabwe into a financial abyss and transformed the "bread-basket" of Africa, a once flourishing country, into a land ravaged by hunger, disease and poverty. Captivating and highly recommended!

由使用者 rgcooper2023 rgcooper20232023年08月12日 15:44 所貼文 | 1 個觀察記錄 | 0 評論 | 留下評論