iLike. iLight

March 29, 2012 at 12:31 am | Posted in itchy mouth | Leave a comment
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Itchyfingers finally found time to visit this year’s iLight Marina Bay 2012. This is the second year the outdoor sustainable light art festival is held. We visited the inaugural festival in 2010 but found this year’s installation much better and more interesting.  However, we didn’t manage to finish viewing all of them as we were tired after a long working day.

Some of the more interesting light installations include these…

This was the first one we saw just outside Marina Bay Sands…Not particularly
impressed by this though there was a lot of writing on the concept…But I
like how people interacted with it… 

The Light Dam consisted of inflated blocks with LED light panels installed.
Dunu why it reminded me of Berlin Wall though the artist is Taiwanese…
Maybe it was due to the fact that there were holes within the inflatables and
you could look through to see what’s on the other side…So imagine two
person separated by the wall, looking and keeping in touch with each other
through the holes…

Like this…A lot of people were doing this, so did Itchyfingers! Haha….

A deck of eight chairs were set up along the waterfront. When you sit on
one of them, it lights up. The lamp was supposed to transmit some sound,
but it was quite soft that we could hardly hear anything…especially since
it was a busy night with lots of visitors…The chair was comfortable though…

If this reminds you of a sea creature, you are right. “5QU1D is a hybrid
squid-like creature embedded with blinking lights emerging from the sea to
merge itself with the skyscrapers. This work references the rapid changes in
our modernising world and the effects they have on the natural environment.”

It changes colours at interval too…I quite like this…

As we walked along, something caught our eyes…Why were there red light spots on the people? Then we saw this…

Rays of red light seemed to be passing through the bodies of these people…

These path of lights came from this door or gate…It almost felt as if it was 
from another realm; or even from another dimension….

It felt almost like you were being sucked into the light source, into another
dimension…almost like the effects in those horror flicks where you are
pulled into the other world…

The light source was accentuated by the mist…This was one of the most
popular installations…It is simple, yet the idea is complex and it draws
the attention of visitors almost immediately…I like!

There was a gigantic bun-like structure at the first iLight Festival. This 
time, we have a similar dome-shape igloo. But this is much more pleasant.
A lot of people posed in front of the igloo made of jerry cans to create
interesting silhouette effects. But as we noticed there was a photographer
standing by waiting for free models for his pictures, we were more discreet
and moved to the other end to pose for our photos. Hence we have Tisu Girl
doing this conservative pose instead of more exaggerating ones…hahah…

This is a beautiful one…Titled, “Coral Garden”, it “raises awareness about
efforts to reform damaged reefs.”

The coral-like sculptures were made of re-used cocktail stirrers which promote  
“the beauty and importance of coral in the functioning of natural ecosystems.
The cocktail stirrers are a symbol of consumerist society, which is indicted as
an element polluting our seas.” Actually from far, they also look like
magic mushrooms! I like! 

Then we saw people standing near the river as if waiting for something. It was not long that we saw some words being projected on the wall…Then we realised that we were supposed to see something in the river…And we saw it…

Two huge creatures appeared swimming just under the water! They were so
realistic that the first thought that came to mind were sea monsters! The
work was “inspired by the artist’s interest in the history of creature sightings
documented and discussed throughout the world.” Interesting and it really
looked a bit scary especially when the water was so dark although the
reflection from the nearby modern buildings kind of killed the effect a little.
I thought the words were a bit too dim and small for half blind people like
me and there should be some sound effect to build up the climax when the
creatures appeared. Otherwise, it may lose a lot of impatient audience especially 
when it took a while to loop the video projection… 

The grand finale for us was seeing our Singapore icon being transformed by light and colours!

The beloved Merlion in a coat of white and red, the same colours on our
flag! The colours of light changed and it was fun looking at the transformation.
I Like!

The rainbow-coloured Merlion spewing fiery rays on the integrated resort…
The Merlion is already a tourists’ favourite during normal days and with
its bright coat of colours painted, it was even more popular and crowded
with people… 

We ended our night here at the Merlion. Shall definitely return to see the remaining ones before it ends in four days’ time. Do head down to view the many innovative light installations from artists around the world before it ends on 1 April!


The Walking Stick

March 26, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Posted in itchy fingers | Leave a comment
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Initially, we were looking at the numerous cute tiny grasshopper nymphs on the leaf of the Sea Hibiscus (Talipariti tiliaceum). Then, as I casually scanned the rest of the plant for more nymphs, I was really thrilled to find another cutie! He was tiny, and the colour blended in with the environment quite well and could easily be overlooked unless you were looking for something intentionally. It happened to be one of my favourite insects….

Itchyfingers had just stumbled across the stick insect among the many
grasshopper nymphs! 🙂 But wait. You may ask why were there only three legs
on this stick insect? Look carefully and you will notice that the first pair of legs
were actually stretched out straight to so it would look more like a stick….
Its 6th leg was also nicely tucked close to the body…

Itchyfingers always carry a measuring tape with me so I can record the
sizes of interesting insect or plant
 specimens that I see…

I was really delighted to have I found two more stickies on the same Sea Hibiscus plant…!

The second stick with stretched limbs…But this one was really missing a leg!

Stick insects are able to shed or break their legs if they were grabbed by predators so as to escape. Juvenile sticks are able to regenerate and grow back missing limbs during molting, as long as it is not the last cycle of molt before they become adults. Adults may be able to force themselves to molt again to regain a lost leg. However, the regenerated leg is often smaller and not as good as the rest of the legs.

Strangely, those stick insects that I have encountered in the wild were all found staying on leaves and not on branches or twigs. I guess if they were on branches, I may not have spotted them as easily…hahah…There were many birds in the area, so I tried to transfer them to the branches to better conceal themselves…afterall, these teenagers may not know the danger around them…hahah :p

Itchyfingers picking up a tiny walking stick….Generally, stick insects do
not move a lot and they move slowly to avoid being noticed by predators…
They do not bite and are generally harmless except for some stockier species
or those with tiny spikes on the body. These may give out a bad tasting
chemical or inflict pain. If you have to handle a stick, be gentle and do not
snap off their legs by pulling them forcefully away from their perch!

Oh my goodness!!! Did Itchyfingers accidentally kill this stick? Dun worry.
When stick insect failed to camouflage themselves or escape from the
predator, they may just drop from their perch and play dead! The predators
may not be able to find the immobile insect or if they found them dead, they
will lose interest since most would prefer fresh food! :p How smart! Here
this stick was still pretending dead by turning to its side… 

He turned alive and immediately grabbed on the branch when I placed him
there…Imagine his colour were to be the same as the branch. Can you
still spot him if you were to walk pass leisurely?

This one was a bigger one at close to 9 cm with the first pair of legs stretched

You can see the little compound eye and his leg joint. Strangely, this stick
preferred to slowly walk back to the leaf…

Just as Itchyfingers thought this was the longest stick we saw for this trip, we found another even bigger on right on top of another leaf!

This was about 12 cm and reddish-brown in colour. It could be an older
female as the rear end looked like the ovipositor

It was missing a front leg too

A look at the joint where once upon a time there was a slim and slender leg

It was the fourth time Itchyfingers encountered wild stick insects. The previous encounters were all individual sticks while this time we spotted four sticks at the same spot! It really made our day!

See how a Stick Insect walks! 

For more cool facts on stick insects, click here. :p

Also read related posts:
> A Peep into the Changing Room
> “Leaf” Me Alone…
> The Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research
> Attaining Immortality – Body Preservation

The Cross Breed…?

March 14, 2012 at 11:54 am | Posted in itchy fingers | 2 Comments
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Itchyfingers saw this last year but we didn’t know its ID. Later, Tisu Boy saw a similar picture online and found out it is the larva of the moth Homodes bracteigutta. But I still wasn’t too sure of the ID cos I couldn’t find information on both the larva and adult except this one from Australia. So it was being shelved and slowly forgotten…until I saw a photo by this photographer asking for the ID. Was tempted to share what we found but didn’t do so cos I was not sure. Luckily a lady replied, and attached a most useful link of a scientific paper that finally confirmed its identity.

So what was it that made Itchyfingers so doubtful?

It was clearly a caterpillar, as it had both pairs of true legs and prolegs

It certainly moved like a caterpillar too! But it also looked like something else!

What made this Homodes bracteigutta caterpillar look menacing is that, 
unlike some other caterpillars with hair or spikes on the bodies which make 
them appear bigger or serve as warning sign so as to frighten away potential 
predators, this one kept moving and vibrating its setae (stiff hairlike or bristlelike 
structure) in an “almost rhythmical fashion, with abrupt and alternate raising/
lowering of the structures”. This reminded us of the Weaver Ant, and that
ant-mimicking spider which Itchyfingers saw preying on a Weaver Ant some
time ago! The constant jerking of these structures made shooting a sharp picture
of it a real challenge! 

Close up of the head with the many pairs of slender, elongated setae. As described
on the scientific paper, “the most prominent pair rises over the caterpillar‘s
head and terminates in a purplish brown, bulbous tip. The other setae are
orange brown and blade-like, radiating from the thoracic region and extending
beyond the head.” The bulbous tip really looked like those found in spiders!

Close up of the posterior rear end with the pairs of prolegs. These prolegs 
would disappear during the metamorphic stage when it changes from its larva 
stage (caterpillar) to the adult stage (moth). Both the anterior and posterior ends
look like the head of the Weaver Ant, and here you can even see “a pair of strategically
placed black dots on the anal segment that resembles the eyes of a weaver ant”! 
Our photo doesn’t show it, but “the parted anal prolegs stimulate an ant‘s wide- 
opened mandibles.” Great mimicry of the weaver ant!

Incidentally, where we found this caterpillar, there were a few Weaver Ants’ nests on the same plant. Amazing thing was, the ants moving around the plant did not seem to notice this guy here and simply bypassed it. Was it because it looked like them or was it because it looked too fearsome? Definitely a smart move to mimic and stay close to these aggressive ants for protection!

Also see related posts:
> Living in a Cage
> Eating Its Own Kind? – Spidey Galore #2
> Jaws – Spidey Galore #1
> Mystery of a Caterpillar 

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