One of our fascinating subjects for CotS #63.5 -- a By-the-Wind Sailor, Velella velella. Creative Commons Notafly. Click image for license and original.

UPDATE: Broken links fixed!

Welcome to the July edition of Circus of the Spineless -- the Blog Carnival for Invertebrates and Only Invertebrates. Since the Circus was on hiatus for June, is this #63 or 64? I will leave it up to the next host to decide and will claim for this edition #63.5.

Ants and Aphids

While out with her camera, Roberta Gibson at Wild About Ants discovered some harvester ant middens -- compost piles, as it were -- and the ghostly remains of some ex-isopods who got the full harvester treatment.

At the Slugyard, Mike B. discovered ants and aphids cohabiting on her red-twig dogwood. Were the ants farming the aphids? Or merely opportunists who merely lucked into making meals of their sweet, sweet poop?

Butterflies and Moths

At Anybody Seen My Focus?, JSK shows and tells about a run in with a Little Wood Satyr, a Mourning Cloak defending its meal against two Question Marks (or were they Commas?)

Doug Taron at Gossamer Tapestry made lemonade on a chilly, foggy, distinctly butterfly-unfriendly day on the shores of Lake Michigan in his post "In Search of Shivering Butterflies". He captured some shots of the rare hoary elfin butterfly (look for the hairs that give it its name low on its body) which feeds on the bearberry, a plant rare to Illinois but super-common here in Colorado. He also found a marbled Olympia marblewing with a spectacular white-and-green wing posing as a sandcress.

Empirical Zeal examines the phenomenon of moths with disappearing spots and mammals with persistent milk appetites.

Xris at Flatbush Gardener discovers that, the morning after he mounted a National Wildlife Federation "Certified Wildlife Habitat" plaque on his garden's entrance arbor, some pipevine swallowtails decided to take it for a spin. Includes ubercute baby caterpillar photos!


Anybody Seen My Focus? captured a rare run-in with a serene (and stunning!) Georgia dragonfly.

Northwest Dragonflier documented the fascinating emergence sequence of a newly minted adult dragonfly -- complete with timestamps! Watching its wings unfurl and thorax start to glaze emerald green is fascinating. Just after emergence is the only time you can see a dragonfly with its wings folded, so don't miss it.

NeuroDojo takes a look at the precision aeronautics of dragonflies in spite of their highly pixellated vision, and at one of the neurons, in particular, that make this possible.

Periodical Cicadas (Subscription not necessary)

Americans, it seems, can't get enough of cicada ice cream. Since our appetite for periodical cicadas, the droning hordes that emerge every 13 or 17 years in precisely choreographed fashion, seems boundless, take a look at Anybody Seen My Focus's encounter with Brood XIX.


Memorizing Nature recounts a reverie inspired by the ease of fingering Narceus americanus with the internet. In the old days, it wasn't this way, as Elaine Medline wistfully recalls.


Not to be confused with the rock lobster,

the squat lobster has a prominent schnoz. Taxonomists have noticed, as pointed out by NeruroDojo.

Wanderin' Weeta discovers that the hermit crabs in her saltwater aquarium have been amusing themselves in ways other than just climbing up and down the eel grass. Result: Lots of little crabs.


Where, oh where, have all the Jumbo Squid Gone? Probably to 130 W, 44N, as explained at Squid a Day, if anyone cares to check.

In the aptly named "Everything You Wanted to Know About Squid Development", Kevin Zelnio at Deep Sea News posted an informative -- and strangely soothing -- 18 minute video on the subject, most likely lifted from his local squid sex-ed class. "I <3 when they get eye buds," he notes. Who doesn't?

Real Monstrosities profiles the violet sea snail (aka purple bubble raft snail), which manages to

  • float upside down
  • using a bubble raft it makes
  • to eat otherwise dangerous things like Portuguese Men O'War.

Don't miss the linked photo of a sea snail going in for the kill.


Rebecca in the Woods captured her first encounter with a the fascinating cnidarian called the By-the-Wind Sailor, Velella velella, along with her wonder at the fascinating world of ocean drifters and their psychadellic designs.

And lastly, I'll humbly submit my own post, in case you missed it, on the Jellyfish that Conquered Land -- And Australia.


That's it for this edition of CotS! Next month will be hosted by The Dragonfly Woman our own Kevin Zelnio of Eco-Evo Lab! Contact info for submissions will (I assume) be posted at the CotS mothership asap him with submissions. See you then!