Happy May Day! (Circus Of The Spineless #62)
    By Danna Staaf | May 2nd 2011 10:42 AM | 6 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Danna

    Cephalopods have been rocking my world since I was in grade school. I pursued them through a BA in marine biology at the University of California...

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    Welcome to the month of May! The time of Beltane and Walpurgis Night, flowers and maypoles and springtime dancing.

    Want a May Basket? Well, um, how about a nice gall instead? Dave Hubble zooms in with some exquisite photos and shows us just what a gift a gall can be to the inquisitive mind.

    Do you like to dress up for May Day? You know who else likes to dress up? The Fir Tussock Moth! Although the adults are rather drab, Rebecca in the Woods found out that the springtime emergence of their caterpillars shows a true love for color and flair.

    If you're into May Day decorations, you may know about May Boughs or May Bushes, a springtime version of the Christmas Tree, to be hung with ribbons, flowers, and shells. But remember, despite Easter traditions, you don't have to use boring old egg shells! How about snail shells? They're beautiful enough that they don't need painting. The Slugyard showcases the striking Pacific Sideband Snail--but in this case, the snail was at home, and Mike kindly left it to roam the forest in peace.

    But enough of this superficial decorative stuff. We all know what May Day is really about, right? In the immortal words of Eddie Izzard, "Bunny rabbits are for shagging; eggs are for fertility." And intertidal isopods are right on track, busily building up their harems to spawn another generation of aquatic roly-polies. Wanderin' Weeta explains the curious sex changes that are a natural part of the Oregon pillbug's party time.

    Having just completed a PhD on squid sex, I would be remiss not to make some mention of the wonderful weirdness that is teuthid insemination. Self-injecting Squid Sperm, anyone?

    However, May Day isn't just about sex. In addition to all the revelry, traditional celebrations were also a time of purification. Although it's difficult to light a purifying bonfire underwater, there are some marvelous detritus feeders that do an excellent job cleaning up the sands. Island Nature takes us on a Sand Dollar Safari to learn more about these magnificent creatures.

    Oddly enough, May 1st is also International Workers' Day, a heavily politicized time for honoring workers' rights. Go figure. If you're having a hard time deciding whether to celebrate flowers or strikes, just remember that invertebrates are familiar with the trials of ambiguous naming conventions. "May Day" may cover the celebration of both Spring and Labour, but "Daddy Longlegs" refers to not two, but three, totally different animals. Real Monstrosities clears up the confusion.

    We don't necessarily need to identify an animal to love and appreciate it, but as the anonynous workers of the world can attest, it is a sign of respect to address everyone by their right names. So head over to Wild Sri Lanka and see if you can help Name the Bugs! (Although, the pedantic in me must point out that, technically, none of these are true bugs.)

    And finally, perhaps the best way to celebrate would be to engage in some labor yourself. How about building a bee house? The Dragonfly Woman shows us how!

    Many thanks to all the contributors to this year's circus! Want to host June's Circus? Contact kzelnio at gmail dot com and check out the CotS website for updates.

    In closing, because I do love me some worms and wish more folk were blogging about them, here's a photo I took of the truly bizzare polychaete Euzonus:



    Great edition, Danna!

    That penultimate link goes to a dead page. I found it in Google's cache, though.

    Danna Staaf
    Whoops, thank you! Got the server back up.

    Sand dollars struck a memory, so I looked them up on Wikimedia Commons and found this picture of live ones ((Dendraster excentricus) at Monterey Bay Aquarium.

    And just to think, they are deuterostomes!
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Thanks for hosting - you got some great links!

    So, you got me thinking about alternatives for Easter traditions Here's one, in the vein (wait, open circulatory system... uh... in the hemocoel) of your post: What about painting cockroach eggs while they are still attached to the cockroach, then letting the cockroaches loose. They hide (drop) the egg cases, then you find them. Sounds like a fun alternative to the typical Easter egg hunt.

    Thanks for the invertebrate look at May Day. :)

    Danna Staaf
    HAH! I love it. Definitely more of a challenge . . . unfortunately, the eggs are a little less delicious than the chocolate or even the hard-boiled variety.