132/150: What’s green, marine and a potential killing machine? Sea Lettuce!

Plantae: Chlorophyta: Ulvophyceae: Ulvales: Ulvaceae: Ulva: Ulva lactuca Linnaeus 1753

Although it resembles terrestrial salad greens, Ulva lactuca (sea lettuce) is a species of aquatic green algae. The bright green ruffled edge “leaves” are composed of 2 layers of cells, found free floating or attached to surfaces in areas with exposed rocks and tide pools. Ulva lactuca is edible, and can be added to salads or soups, or used in medicine. However, this nutritious chlorophyte has a dark side. When large concentrations of sea lettuce die, the rotting algae uses up large amounts of oxygen, potentially suffocating other aquatic species (eutrophication). When large quantities of the rotting algae washes up on shore, it produces toxic hydrogen sulfide gas, which can be a public safety risk. Although it can be tolerated in low doses, short term high exposure to fumes by unlucky beachgoers has led to documented cases of collapse, loss of breathing and even death! Watch out for killer lettuce! #Canada150 #Biodiversity150

The humble sea lettuce, a type of algae. Photo Credit: H. Krisp goo.gl/4sX6HV
Sea lettuce washed up on a beach. Photo Credit: Ecomare/Oscar Bos goo.gl/fr9UUZ
A SEA of Sea Lettuce! Photo Credit: Ria Tan goo.gl/TPWMwZ

Here’s the barcode sequence information for this species:

Process ID: ULVA558-09

nucleotide sequence


amino acid sequence


Visual representation of DNA barcode sequence for Sea lettuce

124/150: Good Indicators of Water Quality, True Facts about the Fishfly

Animalia: Arthropoda: Insecta: Megaloptera: Corydalidae: Nigronia serricornis (Say 1824)

Nigronia serricornis is neither a fish nor a fly, instead falling in the insect order Megaloptera (including both Fishflies, Alderflies and Dobsonflies or Hellgrammites). Females lay eggs in masses near open fast flowing water. Larvae are aquatic and predatory, feeding on insects and worms with their strong mandibles. Larvae grow slowly, taking up to 3 years to reach the final larval stage. When mature, larvae crawl onto land to pupae in soil or in rotting logs at the edge of streams, keeping their mandibles exposed for defense. The adults are dark brown, up to 5 cm long, with large wings that make them very clumsy fliers. Adults are typically non-feeding and live for up to a week, spotted flying around streams or around porch lights. Fishfly larvae only live in clear clean water, so they are commonly used as an environmental indicator species of very good water quality. #Canada150 #Biodiversity150

Adult specimen BBMEG045-10 -Manistee National Forest, Pines Point, Michigan, United States. Photo Credit: CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics
Larval specimen ECCAC004-09 -York County, New Brunswick, Canada. Photo Credit: CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics

Here’s the barcode sequence information for this species:

Process ID: SWCHL586-15

nucleotide sequence


amino acid sequence


Visual representation of DNA barcode sequence for Megaloptera

Learn more about it’s BIN (Barcode Index Number): BOLD:AAA1274

119/150: Blue Bee or not Blue Bee… The unsung heroes of orchard pollination

Animalia: Arthropoda: Insecta: Hymenoptera: Megachilidae: Osmia: Osmia lignaria Say 1837

When you think of important pollinators, you picture honeybees and bumblebees, but have you heard of blue bees? The Blue Orchard Bee or Mason Orchard Bee (Osmia lignaria) is a species in the family Megachilidae, a group of solitary bees with long hairs on the underside of their abdomens used to carry pollen (scopa). Continue reading “119/150: Blue Bee or not Blue Bee… The unsung heroes of orchard pollination”

102/150: Silverfish and Firebrats Outlived the Dinosaurs!

Animalia: Arthropoda: Insecta: Zygentoma: Lepismatidae: Thermobia: Thermobia domestica (Packard, 1837)

Zygentoma is a primitive, wingless order of insects encompassing approximately 120 species in 3 families. The evolution of this group can be traced back over 100 million years, having survived multiple ice ages and mass extinction events, including the fall of the dinosaurs! Continue reading “102/150: Silverfish and Firebrats Outlived the Dinosaurs!”

83/150: Giving birth to live larvae through a hole in their head: The life cycle of the Twisted Wing Parasite

Animalia: Arthropoda: Insecta: Strepsiptera: Elenchidae: Elenchus: Elenchus tenuicornis (Kirby, 1815)

The Strepsiptera, or “twisted wing parasites” is a small insect order consisting of about 600 species in 9 extant families. Hosts are typically Hymenopterans (bees & wasps), but also include Orthopterans (grasshoppers & crickets) and Hemipterans (stink bugs and leafhoppers). Continue reading “83/150: Giving birth to live larvae through a hole in their head: The life cycle of the Twisted Wing Parasite”

79/150: Flying, with its legs! – The Phantom Crane fly

Animalia: Arthropoda: Insecta: Diptera: Ptychopteridae: Bittacomorpha clavipes (Fabricus, 1781)

No, that’s not a giant black mosquito. The Ptychopteridae family, (phantom crane flies), are a small family of Nemotocera (“longhorned flies”) related to mosquitos, true crane flies and blackflies. A common North American species, Bittacomorpha clavipes, is found east of the Rocky Mountains. Continue reading “79/150: Flying, with its legs! – The Phantom Crane fly”

67/150: Not Poisonous, and Not a Spider! The friendly backyard “Daddy-Long-Legs”

animalia: Arthropoda: Arachnida: Opiliones: Sclerosomatidae: Leiobunum: Leiobunum vittatum (Say, 1821)

Harvestmen or “Daddy-long-legs” are commonly presented as “the most venomous spiders in the world, with fangs too short to bite”, but this is a myth! Although they are in the same class as spiders, mites and scorpions, (Arachnida), they are not true spiders. Continue reading “67/150: Not Poisonous, and Not a Spider! The friendly backyard “Daddy-Long-Legs””

58/150: Using flying snakes to combat agricultural pests? –The family Raphidiidae

Animalia: Arthropoda: Insecta: Raphidioptera: Raphidiidae: Agulla: Agulla adnixa (Hagen, 1861)

Fear not, these little arthropods have the potential to keep our crops healthy! The family Raphidiidae, snake flies, are closely related to the “nerve winged” insects (Neuroptera) including lacewings and antlions. Continue reading “58/150: Using flying snakes to combat agricultural pests? –The family Raphidiidae”