Journal archives for February 2019

February 02, 2019

Seashells from Saba Island, Caribbean Netherlands

I am thrilled to see here on iNaturalist that Terence Zahner @zahnerphoto has recently been adding his gorgeous underwater images of marine life around the small Dutch Caribbean island of Saba, during SCUBA diving in March 2011, August 2013, and both March & August 2014

For that area of the Western Atlantic, the Lesser Antilles, I have visited and written papers about the marine mollusk faunas of the following islands: Montserrat, Nevis, St. Kitts, and also St. Eustatius (which is part of the Caribbean Netherlands, as Saba is), but I have not actually visited Saba, although I have written two papers about it.

In Britain and the US, these islands are considered part of the Leeward Island chain, although the Dutch consider them to be part of what they call the Windward Islands. Probably it is clearer to say these islands are part of the Eastern Caribbean.

I am especially happy to see that Terence uploaded images of a number of Saba sea slugs. Until 2013, the marine mollusk fauna of Saba had hardly been recorded at all in the scientific literature. And this is why, a few years ago, I started asking a few people who lived on or visited Saba to search for and photograph marine mollusks for me. I compiled as much info as I could, and wrote two papers on the subject, one in 2013 and one in 2017:

2013, Hewitt, Susan J., Marine mollusks from the island of Saba, Leeward Islands, West Indies, The Festivus XLV (8) 67–73

2017, Hewitt, Susan J., Additions to the marine mollusk checklist for the island of Saba, Leeward Islands, West Indies, Vita Malacologica Vol 16, 40 - 43

Terence, as well as photographing the Caribbean Reef Squid, the Queen Conch, the Flamingo Tongue Snail and the Lettuce Sea Slug, all of which have previously been recorded from the island, has photographed quite a few species which would be additions to the published marine mollusk faunal list for Saba. Here are some of them:


*Cyphoma signatum now known to be just a form of C. gibbosum

*Felimeda binza


It would be great to include all these additional species in a new short paper updating the marine mollusk faunal list of Saba -- and I am prepared to write it, if I can work out which scientific publication might be prepared to publish it. A short paper like this would have been perfect for the old journal "The Festivus", but the new, more magazine-like "Festivus" has a lot of problems -- it appears that the peer review process for that publication is seriously broken.

I would prefer to publish this info as a short paper in a peer-reviewed journal, but if I can't find the right outlet for it, I could I suppose publish it in "Spirula" a non-peer-reviewed publication of the Dutch Malacological Society. On problem is that the paper would require three color plates, which are expensive for a publication.

Posted on February 02, 2019 02:21 PM by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 10 comments | Leave a comment

February 03, 2019

Leafminers in North America, a new project

I imagine that most people have, once in a while, seen leafminer tracks -- white meandering lines or spotches within leaves of all kinds of plants? Mines are caused by the larvae of a surprising variety of different insects: moths, flies, beetles, and sawflies.

I am happy to announce that iNat has a brand new project, "Leafminers of North America", started by Charlie Eiseman, an outstanding leafminer expert. if you don't know much about leafminers, take a look at this project and the images it contains:

If you already have made some leafminer observations, please go ahead and add them to this project, and as spring and summer in North America progresses, please keep your eyes open for more leafmines.

There are leafminers in all kinds of different plants, and many leafminers are rather poorly known to science, which makes them even more interesting and important! There are many new species waiting to be discovered among leafminers.

Posted on February 03, 2019 06:25 PM by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 4 comments | Leave a comment

February 04, 2019

New species of leafminers right in your backyard?

People generally seem to think that there is no way that an ordinary person can contribute significantly to scientific research, including the discovery of new species. However, that is emphatically not the case.

As I mentioned in my previous post, there is a brand new iNaturalist project called "Leafminers of North America":

In this new project, quite a few leafminer observations have already shown up for which the adult insect is currently a mystery. Some will turn out to be species that are currently unknown to science, and those species will need to be named and described.

We are fortunate that we have Charley Eiseman as a contributor here on iNaturalist. Charley is an expert on leafminers.

It is a relatively simple matter to attempt to raise leafminers to adulthood. It does not require a lot of equipment or time. And it is possible to find unknown leafminers in parks and wild spaces near where you live, without having to travel anywhere out of the way.

Charley Eiseman has created some instructions online about how to raise all different kinds of leafminers:

Charley has also written and illustrated an ebook that lists which known and unknown leafminers occur on any given plant:

I would encourage people, when they are out and about during the growing season this year, to look for leafminers, to make observations of them, and also to consider the possibility of raising some to adulthood.

Best wishes to all,


Posted on February 04, 2019 04:17 PM by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 2 comments | Leave a comment

February 05, 2019

A list of "mystery" leafminers, mostly in NYC

Charley Eiseman told me I had observed some interesting mysteries in terms of the leafminers that I photographed during 2018. Some of these may be new species.

I decided to create a journal post listing the mysteries, so that anyone who might want to investigate them can easily find my mystery observations, and then hopefully be able to find more of the leafminers while they are in the larval stage this year.

Please feel free to message me if you want more info about where exactly any of these were found. Also, bear in mind that by the date I photographed the mine, the larva may already have turned into a pupa, and the adult insect may have already have hatched out, and flown away.

Charley also explained to me that if I find any of these mystery leafmines where the mine is still occupied by the larva, and if I don't want to try to raise them myself, which is likely to be the case (even though it is quite easy to do), in that case I could send the leaves to him, so he can raise the larvae.


A mystery leafminer on Chenopodium ?murale in Encinitas, San Diego County, California: Sept 28th 2018.

A mystery leafminer on Toyon in Encinitas, San Diego County, California: Sept 27th 2018.
Another of the same thing on Toyon in Encinitas, San Diego County, California: Sept 27th 2018.

In a leaf of Coastal Live Oak, Oct 1, 2018 -- not sure this one is a mystery.

Posted on February 05, 2019 05:10 PM by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 2 comments | Leave a comment