Friday, September 30, 2005

Snaps Of The Week

Thinking of starting a snap of the week series. The few best snaps of the week will be put up, not much funda given. Just a few words here & there. Offlate, blog writing has become too involved, hence this escape route.

Grasshoppers mating...perhaps the bigger chap is male ;-) I simply got lucky with them,thankfully they weren't keen on parting either. Wonder, how many eggs got laid.

Catterpillars ?? The one in the back is it a young one or something different ?? Went to Tata book house later & randomly opened the 'Insect Encyclopodia' had a picture of very similar ones....and there were lots of them togather....and the small ones......I guess I read it as a different species...some symbiosis funda ?? need to check again.

African Tulip. A common avenue tree in Bangalore. I plan to record the growth of these flowers. What fascinates is the conversion of flower to fruit.

All snaps, last saturday - Sep 24th - after my class at IISc....right behind lecture halls.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Ulm, Germany, March, 2005. Its been an unusually cold month, but slowly & surely, the sun announces itself. The snow grumbles, crumbles & packs off. A feeling of warmth prevades.

One such day, Ganesh & me were walking by.

And, came across this person. He was rotating an instrument that produced some music. And, he seemed to go on & on. First timers like us, kept staring at him. Now & then, somebody would drop some coins in a bowl attached to his machine.

Well, every city/town has such people. Most of the times, we simply walk past with a straight face. And, again if you recall, most of them either play some music, perform some tricks, or display some animals. In India, this is fairly common. But, seeing this in a developed country, I was quite surprised. They wear good clothes and look respectful.

Well, our man is blind. Ganesh emptied a lot of coins from his wallet. I took some quick snaps. And, we moved on.

Mmm.....a few days/weeks back, cars invariably were covered with quite a bit of snow.

Its failry common to come across bands like these that perform for a few coins. Infact, another day I watched a family performing on the street, small kids were playing some instruments too.

Donno, which animal, asked the guy, he said some German sounding name that I quickly forgot. Again, as I said almost all cultures seem to have this concept of animals for money. The basava's that used to come as we grew up, the chained monkeys & bears that formed the first 'wild' animals in my life. The snakes in baskets, that had to be woken up from their sleep! All these for some money for their care-taker/imprisoner.

As always, the children are the most excited of all. Perhaps they see only the animal, and not the associated social backgrounds!

Almost all kids passing by stopped to have a close look, with very few braving to touch them.

Wonder, what it has to say 'bout the world around it.

In came this kid wheeled by the elder lady. Boy, he was really excited 'bout them.

He touched them, smiled and seemed very very happy.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Hoskote kere

Hoskote lake, an huge lake which has rarely filled up in the last few decades, 10-15Km from B'lore. On 18th Sep, 4pm to 6.30pm with Partha.

Count the sheep. Panoroma mode, 8 snaps. Click on the picture, perhaps a bigger one would look better. It was very sunny just above the tank bund.

A water snake, I think. It noticed my movement, rapidly moved towards the water (a long snake furiously moving is quite a sight) swam for a short distance, came to the bank, and was looking around. I managed to take two snaps, before it went underground. Cropped image.

Lovely little flowers, should atleast get to know their names.

Sunset: Bangalore with all its pollution paints the sky amazingly.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

400 G

.................Imagine jumping
................................................Jumping with great force
.................Force around 400 G

1 G is the force that gravity exerts on a human body at rest, and so the force needed to overcome while jumping. Apparently, Homo sapiens pass out around 5 G.

So 400 G, must be one hell of a force, exerted on the body, right ?

A 1.5 cm long insect takes the credit for this ability. Not surprisingly called a frogHopper - Philaenus spumarius -

Have you seen this insect ?

I bet you have.

At the younger larvae stage they are quite conspicuous. But, you may simply pass, shirking, with revulsion. For you may mistake them to be human spit!!!!

Righto! This is how it looks. Most of the people curse the rest of the humankind, and pass along.

Its also called as spittle bug or cuckoo spit insect. Over 2000 species of this kind. Some african species produce so much spittle that they drip from tree branches like rain!

The young one - nymph - sticking onto the grass secretes that white frothy substance to counter dryness, sunlight & ofcourse, enemies. Isn't the world full of enemies ;-)) Some liquid released through the anus, gets mixed with some secretion from the abdominal glands. And, this gets frothily blown up with air bubles by another special valve in the abdomen. Wow! what a design!!!

The young one without the wings & well developed legs stays in the foamy fortress until it matures to an adult with amazing legs. It typically moves by those high jumps. This nymph walks down a grass blade. Wings are not developed.

Lets looks at its jump.

One of the frogHopper species, 0.2 inches long jumps around 28 inches.
Man - Sergei Bubka - perhaps 6 feet tall uses a pole to jump 20 feet.
Man without external aid - Javier Sotomayor - perhaps 6 feet tall jumped to 8ft , a world record.

Looking closely at jumping dynamics of animals, this must-read link tell us that there are two mechanisms.

1. Lever - long legs - Animals like kangaroo, frogs & crickets use their long legs as levers to get the force.

2. Catapult - short legs - Animals like our frogHopper uses stored energy in a rapid catapault release fashion for generating the force.

The frogHopper has 2 huge muscles in the chest - these muscles make up 11% body weight - and these power the rear legs. Once the muscles get loaded with sufficient energy, the legs which are kind of held-back, snap open, and accelerates the body upto 13 feet per second.

0.2 inches long, 400 G force, 28 inches of a jump, 13 feet/second.

The froghopper lays its egg in plant tissue around autumn, and sometime in early spring these eggs hatches, the young ones called nymphs comes out, moves towards tender stems, and inserts it specalised sharp sucking beaks, and starts drinking the sap. Then starts building his frothy fortress. And, as he grows bigger, molts a few time in the fortress. And, soon the adult leaves this foamy home and lives like a jumping jack.

The adult looks very much like a frog and hence the name. Check this link for lotz of pics esp. the adult. This nymph seems to be more developed than the other nymph seen earlier. All snaps behind lecture halls, IISc. The nymph snaps are cropped.

Frog Hopper, the high jump champion of the Animal kingdom, meet him soon.

Monday, September 12, 2005

'What a body!!!'

My kyamera is quite good at snaps of very close-by objects. Stuff like flowers & insects are captured well. So, I have started observing the surroundings more closely. And, soon I was amazed at the number of insects that appeared before me. Hardly knew any of them. This has got me into reading 'bout them. Lets take a quick look at some of the eye-catching flying objects (apart from birds & butterfly's).

We used to call these wonderful flyers 'helicopters'. Apparently, they are called dragonfly's ;-) Snapped at ECC, whitefield, B'lore. Another similar insect is called....hold ur breath...damsel fly ;-))

This damsel sat meditating for quite a long time, right besides a stream, in the western ghats.

Another flying/jumping expert is the grass-hopper. This guy was chopping away the grass blades as I took the snap at IISc. This was in the open spaces behind the lecture-halls.

Insects. Yes, insects 1000's of them inhabit this earth. And, they are characterised by their body segmented into 3 regions.

The head has mouthparts, eyes (always compound ??), and a pair of antennae. This guy simply buzzed around, sat on my head, finally landed on my palms . After 'n' shots, and watching him for quite sometime, he refused to fly away. I had to say 'buzz off ' ;-) This again behind lecture halls IISc - on my palm -

From the middle body - thorax - comes out 3 pairs of legs and one or two pairs of wings. This beetle, Hoskote lake, B'lore, sat on some cacti, was quite big, after lotz of snaps, he got irritated, and took off in style. He roared like a bullet, and flew like a helicopter ;-)) The tip of the beetle, not covered in this snap is orange.

Coming down further( going up in the above picture), you have the abdomen, that houses the digestive, excretory & reproductory parts of the body. This lovely dragon fly, again behind lecture halls IISc -a treasure trove -

Insects 1000's of species, need to get to know at least some of them. Actually over 8 lakh species have been listed - that covers 3/4th of animal life - I still recall the shock & surprise, on encountering a stick insect for the first time. This was in our research room, CSA, IISc days. And, of-late I have been watching out for mating dragon flys. They do a 'wheely' and fly along!!! Haven't got a good shot yet. There are lots & lots of fascinating insects, most of them very tiny, less than 6 mm, beyond my Kyamera eyes.