20 June 2011

But come and join the dance

Most of the time, when people ask what I do, I don't say very much. This is less because my job is super-secret government work and more because most people, on hearing about it, die of boredom.

This tends to be a downer at parties.

But every so often, my boring job throws something beautiful my way. Like this:

Photograph by David Liittschwager, National Geographic

Ovachlamys fulgens, a terrestrial snail. And fulgens indeed; you might be forgiven for thinking that shell was a sample of the jeweller's art.  This lovely little beast is well out of its environment in Costa Rica, and it's listed as an invasive species of concern in several U.S. states. It's actually native to the Ryukyu Islands, the chain in the East China Sea that includes Okinawa. It's phytophagous -- a plant eater -- and considered a serious pest of orchids. Its status as a plant pest is how it came to my attention. And I had better stop there before people stop toppling over.

There are other stunningly beautiful creatures to be found in the cubic foot of Costa Rica featured on the National Geographic site. Look for the white plume moths and the blue-tailed skink, among others.

Lewis Carroll


  1. Belatedly commenting... Since I now work for this program, producing various essential bits for the Web site: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu

    1. Ah, soon you too will be able to dispatch people with your lethal knowledge of European grapevine moth!


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