Labah-labah / Spider

Sunday, October 25, 2009
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Spiders (order Araneae) are air-breathing chelicerate arthropods that have eight legs, and chelicerae modified into fangs that inject venom. They are the largest order of arachnids and rank seventh in total species diversity among all other groups of organisms.[1] Spiders are found world-wide on every continent except for Antarctica, and have become established in nearly every ecological niche with the exception of air and sea colonization. As of 2008, approximately 40,000 spider species, and 109 families have been recorded by taxonomists;[2] however, there has been confusion within the scientific community as to how all these genera should be classified, as evidenced by the over 20 different classifications that have been proposed since 1900.[3]
Anatomically, spiders differ from other arthropods in that the usual body segments are fused into two tagmata, the cephalothorax and abdomen, and joined by a small, cylindrical pedicel. Unlike insects, spiders do not have antennae. In all except the most primitive group, the Mesothelae, spiders have the most centralized nervous systems of all arthropods, as all their ganglia are fused into one mass in the cephalothorax. Unlike most arthropods, spiders have no extensor muscles in their limbs and instead extend them by hydraulic pressure.
Their abdomens bear appendages that have been modified into spinnerets that extrude silk from up to six types of silk glands within their abdomen. Spider webs vary widely in size, shape and the amount of sticky thread used. It now appears that the spiral orb web may be one of the earliest forms, and spiders that produce tangled cobwebs are more abundant and diverse than orb-web spiders. Spider-like arachnids with silk-producing spigots appear in the Devonian period about 386 million years ago, but these animals apparently lacked spinnerets. True spiders have been found in Carboniferous rocks from 318 to 299 million years ago, and are very similar to the most primitive surviving order, the Mesothelae. The main groups of modern spiders, Mygalomorphae and Araneomorphae, first appear in the Triassic period, before 200 million years ago.
A vegetarian species was described in 2008,[4] but all other known species are predators, mostly preying on insects and on other spiders, although a few large species also take birds and lizards. Spiders use a wide range of strategies to capture prey: trapping it in sticky webs, lassoing it with sticky bolas, mimicking the prey to avoid detection, or running it down. Most detect prey mainly by sensing vibrations, but the active hunters have acute vision, and hunters of the genus Portia show signs of intelligence in their choice of tactics and ability to develop new ones. Spiders' guts are too narrow to take solids, and they liquidize their food by flooding it with digestive enzymes and grinding it with the bases of their pedipalps, as they do not have true jaws.
Male spiders identify themselves by a variety of complex courtship rituals to avoid being eaten by the females. Males of most species survive a few matings, limited mainly by their short life spans. Females weave silk egg-cases, each of which may contain hundreds of eggs. Females of many species care for their young, for example by carrying them around or by sharing food with them. A minority of species are social, building communal webs that may house anywhere from a few to 50,000 individuals. Social behavior ranges from precarious toleration, as in the aggressive widow spiders, to co-operative hunting and food-sharing. Although most spiders live for at most two years, tarantulas and other mygalomorph spiders can live up to 25 years in captivity.
While the venom of a few species is dangerous to humans, scientists are now researching the use of spider venom in medicine and as non-polluting pesticides. Spider silk provides a combination of lightness, strength and elasticity that is superior to that of synthetic materials, and spider silk genes have been inserted into mammals and plants to see if these can be used as silk factories. As a result of their wide range of behaviors, spiders have become common symbols in art and mythology symbolizing various combinations of patience, cruelty and creative powers.
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Mentadak / Mantis

Sunday, October 18, 2009
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Mantodea or mantises is an order of insects which contains approximately 2,200 species in 9 families[1] worldwide in temperate and tropical habitats. Most of the species are in the family Mantidae. Historically, the term "mantid" was used to refer to any member of the order because for most of the past century, only one family was recognized within the order; technically, however, the term only refers to this one family, meaning the species in the other eight recently-established families are not mantids, by definition (i.e., they are empusids, or hymenopodids, etc.), and the term "mantises" should be used when referring to the entire order. A colloquial name for the order is "praying mantises", because of the typical "prayer-like" stance, although the term is often misspelled as "preying mantis" since mantises are notoriously predatory. The word mantis is Greek for "prophet" or "fortune teller". In Europe, the name "praying mantis" refers to Mantis religiosa. The closest relatives of mantises are the orders Isoptera (termites) and Blattodea (cockroaches), and these three groups together are sometimes ranked as an order rather than a superorder. They are sometimes confused with phasmids (stick/leaf insects) and other elongated insects such as grasshoppers and crickets.

Description

Praying Mantises are exclusively predatory. Larger species have been known to prey on small lizards, frogs, birds, snakes, and even rodents, basically anything that it can successfully capture and devour. Most species are known to engage in cannibalism. The majority of mantises are ambush predators, waiting for prey to stray too near. The mantis then lashes out at remarkable speed. Some ground and bark species, however, pursue their prey rather quickly. Surprisingly, though, praying mantises are particularly susceptible to an enzyme found in the mucus excreted by slugs, and thus, their primary enemy is the slug. Prey items are caught and held securely with grasping, spiked forelegs ("raptorial legs"); the first thoracic segment, the prothorax, is commonly elongated and flexibly articulated, allowing for greater range of movement of the front limbs while the remainder of the body remains more or less immobile. The articulation of the head is also remarkably flexible, permitting nearly 300 degrees of movement in some species, allowing for a great range of vision (their compound eyes have a large binocular field of vision) without having to move the remainder of the body. As their hunting relies heavily on vision, they are primarily diurnal, but many species will fly at night.

Reproduction and life history

Sexual cannibalism is common among mantises in captivity, and under some circumstances may also be observed in the field. The female may start feeding by biting off the male’s head (as with any prey), and if mating had begun, the male’s movements may become even more vigorous in its delivery of sperm. Early researchers thought that because copulatory movement is controlled by ganglion in the abdomen, not the head, removal of the male’s head was a reproductive strategy by females to enhance fertilisation while obtaining sustenance. Later, this behaviour appeared to be an artifact of intrusive laboratory observation. Whether the behaviour in the field is natural, or also the result of distractions caused by the human observer, remains controversial. Mantises are highly visual creatures, and notice any disturbance occurring in the laboratory or field such as bright lights or moving scientists. Research by Liske and Davis (1987) and others found (e.g. using video recorders in vacant rooms) that Chinese mantises that had been fed ad libitum (so that they were not starving) actually displayed elaborate courtship behavior when left undisturbed. The male engages the female in courtship dance, to change her interest from feeding to mating. Courtship display has also been observed in other species, but it does not hold for all mantises.
The reason for sexual cannibalism has been debated, with some considering submissive males to be achieving a selective advantage in their ability to produce offspring. This theory is supported by a quantifiable increase in the duration of copulation among males who are cannibalized, in some cases doubling both the duration and the chance of fertilization. This is further supported in a study where males were seen to approach hungry females with more caution, and were shown to remain mounted on hungry females for a longer time, indicating that males actively avoiding cannibalism may mate with multiple females. The act of dismounting is one of the most dangerous times for males during copulation, for it is at this time that females most frequently cannibalize their mates. This increase in mounting duration was thought to indicate that males would be more prone to wait for an opportune time to dismount from a hungry female rather than from a satiated female that would be less likely to cannibalize her mate. Some consider this to be an indication that male submissiveness does not inherently increase male reproductive success, rather that more fit males are likely to approach a female with caution and escape.[2]
The mating season in temperate climates typically begins in autumn. To mate following courtship, the male usually leaps onto the female’s back, and clasps her thorax and wing bases with his forelegs. He then arches his abdomen to deposit and store sperm in a special chamber near the tip of the female’s abdomen. The female then lays between 10 and 400 eggs, depending on the species. Eggs are typically deposited in a frothy mass that is produced by glands in the abdomen. This froth then hardens, creating a protective capsule with a further protective coat, and the egg mass is called an ootheca. Depending on the species these can be attached to a flat surface, wrapped around a plant or even deposited in the ground. Despite the versatility and durability of the eggs, they are often preyed on, especially by several species of parasitic wasps. In a few species, the mother guards the eggs.
As in related insect groups, mantises go through three stages of metamorphosis: egg, nymph, and adult (mantises are among the hemimetabolic insects). The nymph and adult insect are structurally quite similar, except that the nymph is smaller and has no wings or functional genitalia. The nymphs are also sometimes colored differently from the adult, and the early stages are often mimics of ants. A mantis nymph increases in size (often changing its diet as it does so) by replacing its outer body covering with a sturdy, flexible exoskeleton and molting when needed. This can happen up to five to ten times, depending on the species. After the final molt most species have wings, though some species are wingless or brachypterous ("short-winged"), particularly in the female sex.
In tropical species, the natural lifespan of a mantis in the wild is about 10–12 months, but some species kept in captivity have been sustained for 14 months. In colder areas, females will die during the winter (as well as any surviving males).
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Ulat Gonggok / Millipede

Thursday, October 15, 2009
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Millipedes, known as shongololos in South African English, are arthropods that have two pairs of legs per segment (except for the first segment behind the head which does not have any appendages at all, and the next few which only have one pair of legs). Each segment that has two pairs of legs is a result of two single segments fused together as one. Most millipedes have very elongated cylindrical bodies, although some are flattened dorso-ventrally, while pill millipedes are shorter and can roll into a ball, like a pillbug.

Millipedes are detritivores and slow moving. Most millipedes eat decaying leaves and other dead plant matter, moisturising the food with secretions and then scraping it in with the jaws. However they can also be a minor garden pest, especially in greenhouses where they can cause severe damage to emergent seedlings. Signs of millipede damage include the stripping of the outer layers of a young plant stem and irregular damage to leaves and plant apices.

This class contains around 10,000 species. There are 13 orders and 115 families.

The giant African millipede (Archispirostreptus gigas) is the largest species of millipede.

Millipedes can be easily distinguished from the somewhat similar and related centipedes (Class Chilopoda), which move rapidly, and have a single pair of legs for each body segment.

Unlike centipedes however, millipedes are by nature not predators, and due to their slow, non-aggressive behavior and simple diet of decomposing leaves, are easy to keep and ideal as pets.

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Bunga Bawang / Zephyranthes

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Zephyranthes is a genus of about 70 species in the Amaryllis family. Common names for species in this genus include fairy lily, rainflower, zephyr lily, magic lily and rain lily.

According Meerow et al., cladistics suggests that they are native to the Americas. This is important to mention since several species have become naturalized (sometimes unintentionally) in distant places like Hawaii, Indonesia, and Thailand. The species that are native to the higher altitudes in Mexico (e.g. Z. lindleyana) and parts of North America (e.g. Z. longifolia) or Argentina (e.g. Z. candida) represent the species having the greatest potential for cold hardiness.

These perennial geophytes are remarkable for the many ecological niches they tolerate (periodically wet soil to desert conditions), and have many ornamental characteristics worth preserving. Care should be taken with the plants since many of the parts, leaves, bulbs etc. are toxic. Although the genus has been evaluated for possible medicinal properties the biochemically toxic compounds are things like alkaloids. (Kojima et al. 1997.)

Species in the genus which are listed in this article, vary in morphology. Characteristics such as bulb size, tunic color, and leaf morphology help to identify the species. Foliage in the wild is often ephemeral, but under cultivation becomes more persistent. Leaf color ranges from the bright grassy green of Z. candida (shown in the photo) to rather broad glaucous colored foliage such as Z. drummondii. A few of the species have distinct bronze tints in the foliage when grown in bright light. Size of leaves in these species, ranges from dark green and tiny grassy leaves in species like Z.jonesi or Z. longifolia, to broader, glaucous leaves in species like Z. drummondii, and perhaps largest of all, the cultivar commonly known as "Horsetail Falls" which has handsome broad leaves almost like a Hippeastrum.

Flower color in the species ranges from white to yellow (various tints of this color from lemon to sulfur) and pink. Zephyranthes have erect flower stalks which support a flower that may be upward facing or slightly nodding. The funnel-shaped, flowers with six petals can be crocus shaped, but may also open flat such as in Z.jonesii or even reflex slightly. The flowers of some species have a sweet, pleasant fragrance. Fragrance appears to be recessive in crosses, but there are a few species or hybrids, Z. drummondii (white), Z. morrisclintae (pink)and Z.jonesii (light yellow), that all carry the trait. At least 2 of these open their flowers at night and are attractive to nocturnal insects. The flowers typically last only for a day or two; but new flowers may appear in a succession of blooms, especially during humid or rainy weather. Various members of the genus may bloom spring only or repeat and continue into autumn, often a few days after rainstorms thus one of the common names, rainlilies. Periods of synchronous bloom, which breeders have dubbed 'blitzes', are part of their ornamental value, but also times breeders exploit for the purpose of producing new hybrids. (Marta 2005)

Most species under cultivation will bloom without the naturally imposed drought and wet that occurs in nature. Greenhouse grown plants bloom very freely but cycle through periods of bloom. One of the longest blooming of all the species is Z. primulina which blooms from April until October. Although it is apomictic, it is a choice parent for crosses because of its rapid repeat flowering trait and long bloom season. Some other species such as Z. Morrisclintae appear to bloom only in the spring season. Most of these species are easily propagated vegetatively via offsets or twin scaling. A few of them such a Z.clintae are slow to produce increase. Unusual phenotypes can be preserved vegetatively. Sexual reproduction is via seed. The apomictic species freely set seed and faithfully reproduce the maternal phenotype. Sterility in hybrids can be problematic;reasons for this are mentioned below. Seed usually is best sown quickly after harvest, although short term storage can be successful. Maiden seedling can be brought into bloom for some of the hybrid in 8-12 after sowing in ideal conditions. This is great for doing necessary checks for apomixis. Currently these plants are grown in the garden in USDA zones 7 and higher. Hopefully with some attention from breeders new cultivar might increase the plants' cold hardiness. Often the plants are sold in nurseries already potted up, this is a great benefit since the growth cycle is not interrupted. Dried bulbs are marketed wholesale and rarely may be slow to rebloom. Such bulbs usually recover once they have a long growing season after rooting out.

Breeding with these species has some inherent difficulties summarized by M. RoyChowdhury (2006 JAAS) as ranging from pseudogamy and apomixis, differences in chromosome number and varying times of flowering. In spite of these drawbacks interesting breeding work is being done to enhance the value of the plants as ornamentals. Because of the nature botanical restriction breeding programs often encounter impediments. Reciprocal crosses may be difficult because the apomictic parent cannot be used as female parents. However interspecific crosses are well documented (RoyChowdhury 2006). There are tri-hybrids and quad hybrids being produced. (Crossing 3 or 4 distinct species.) Such work indicates that complex hybrids should be possible. One constraint remains that seedlings may still carry the apomictic trait, and it is necessary to have progeny from a test cross to determine this. Mr. John Fellers, Mr. Fadjar Marta and Mr. Tony Avent are just a few of the talented breeders currently working today to increase the potential for these plants. Their work has come to the attention of connoisseurs of the these plants. Colors in man-made crosses currently include red, orange, tan, salmon, blends, picotees and stripes. Floral types such as goblet shaped, wavy petal edges, narrow petals and doubles have been bred (Marta 2005). Complex hybrids may have advantages in holding their flowers open longer, up to three days. While difficult, there have been a few attempts to cross some of these species with related species in the genus Habranthus. Currently it appears that a few crosses with large flowered Habranthus species have been possible for example the cultivar, 'Normal Pearl' which is an intergeneric cross.

The name Zephyranthes comes from Zephyrus, the god of the west wind in Greek mythology.Therefore one translation for a common name might be Westwind Flower. The west wind presumably brings rain that these plants revel in.

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Siput Babi / Achatina fulica / Snail

Wednesday, September 16, 2009
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The East African land snail, or giant African land snail, scientific name Achatina fulica[2], is a species of large, air-breathing land snail, a terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusk in the family Achatinidae.
In recent times, the land snails have been kept as pets; however, they are illegal to possess in some countries including the United States[3]. The snails are easy to keep and, when bred in captivity, are unlikely to carry parasites.
It is native to East Africa, however the species has been widely introduced to Asia, to the Pacific and Indian Ocean islands, and to the West Indies. Where the snail is seen as a pest, it has been intercepted widely by quarantine officials, and incipient invasions have been successfully eradicated, for instance in the mainland USA.
It is distributed in China since 1931. It's initial point of distribution in China was Xiamen.

The adult snails have a height of around 7 cm (2.5 inches), and their length can reach 20 cm (8 inches) or more.
The shell has a conical shape, being about twice as high as it is broad. Either clockwise (sinistral) or anti-clockwise (dextral) directions can be observed in the coiling of the shell, although the right-handed (dextral) cone is the more common. Shell colouration is highly variable, and dependent on diet. Typically, brown is the predominant colour and the shell is banded.
The East African land snail is native to East Africa, especially Kenya and Tanzania. Its habitat includes most regions of the humid tropics, including many Pacific islands, southern and eastern Asia, and the Caribbean. It is a highly invasive species, and colonies can be formed from a single gravid individual. The species has established itself in temperate climates also, and in many places release into the wild is illegal. The giant snail can now be found in agricultural areas, coastland, natural forest, planted forests, riparian zones, scrub/shrublands, urban areas, and wetlands.

The Giant East African Snail is a macrophytophagous herbivore; it eats a wide range of plant material, fruit and vegetables. It will sometimes eat sand, very small stones, bones from carcasses and even concrete as calcium sources for its shell. In rare instances the snails will consume each other.
In captivity, this species can be fed on grain products such as bread, digestive biscuits and chicken feed. Fruits and vegetables must be washed diligently as the snail is very sensitive to any lingering pesticides.[citation needed] In captivity, snails need cuttlebone to aid the growth and strength for their shells. As with all molluscs, they enjoy the yeast in beer, which serves as a growth stimulus.

The Giant East African Snail is a simultaneous hermaphrodite; each individual has both testes and ovaries and is capable of producing both sperm and ova. Instances of self fertilisation are rare, occurring only in small populations. Although both snails in a mating pair can simultaneously transfer gametes to each other (bilateral mating), this is dependent on the size difference between the partners. Snails of similar size will reproduce in this way. Two snails of differing sizes will mate unilaterally (one way), with the larger individual acting as a female. This is due to the comparative resource investment associated with the different genders.[citation needed]
Like other land snails, these have intriguing mating behaviour, including petting their heads and front parts against each other. Courtship can last up to half an hour, and the actual transfer of gametes can last for two hours. Transferred sperm can be stored within the body for up to two years. The number of eggs per clutch averages around 200. A snail may lay 5-6 clutches per year with a hatching viability of about 90%.
Adult size is reached in about six months; after which growth slows but does not ever cease. Life expectancy is commonly five or six years in captivity, but the snails may live for up to ten years. They are active at night and spend the day buried underground.
The East African Land Snail is capable of aestivating for up to three years in times of extreme drought, sealing itself into its shell by secretion of a calcerous compound that dries on contact with the air. This is impermeable; the snail will not lose any water during this period.
In many places the snail is seen as a pest. Suggested preventative measures include strict quarantine to prevent introduction and further spread. Many methods, including hand collecting and use of molluscicides and flame-throwers, have been tried to eradicate the giant snail. Generally, none of them has been effective except where implemented at the first sign of infestation.
In some regions, an effort has been made to promote use of the Giant East African Snail as a food resource, the collecting of the snails for food being seen as a method of controlling them. However, promoting a pest in this way is a controversial measure, as it may encourage the further deliberate spread of the snails.
One particularly catastrophic attempt to biologically control this species occurred on South Pacific Islands. Colonies of A. fulica were introduced as a food reserve for the American military during the second world war and they escaped. A carnivorous species was later introduced, but it instead heavily harvested the native Partula, causing the loss of several species within a decade.
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Kerengga / Weaver ant

Sunday, August 2, 2009
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Weaver ants or Green ants (genus Oecophylla) are eusocial insects of the family Formicidae (order Hymenoptera). Weaver ants are obligately arboreal and are known for their unique nest building behaviour where workers construct nests by weaving together leaves using larval silk.[1] Colonies can be extremely large consisting of more than a hundred nests spanning numerous trees and contain more than half a million workers. Like many other ant species, weaver ants prey on small insects and supplement their diet with carbohydrate-rich honeydew excreted by small insects (Hemiptera). Oecophylla workers exhibit a clear bimodal size distribution, with almost no overlap between the size of the minor and major workers.[2] [3] The major workers are approximately eight to ten millimeters in length and the minors approximately half the length of the majors. There is a division of labour associated with the size difference between workers. Major workers forage, defend, maintain and expand the colony whereas minor workers tend to stay within the nests where they care for the brood and 'milk' scale insects in or close to the nests. Oecophylla weaver ants vary in color from reddish to yellowish brown dependent on the species. Oecophylla smaragdina found in Australia often have bright green gasters. These ants are highly territorial and workers aggressively defend their territories against intruders. Because of their aggressive behaviour, weaver ants are sometime used by indigenous farmers, particularly in southeast Asia, as natural biocontrol agents against agricultural pests. Although Oecophylla weaver ants lack a functional sting they can inflict painful bites and often spray formic acid[4][5] directly at the bite wound resulting in intense discomfort.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weaver_ant
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Daun Sirih / Betel

Saturday, August 1, 2009
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The Betel (Piper betle) is the leaf of a vine belonging to the Piperaceae family, which includes pepper and Kava. It is valued both as a mild stimulant and for its medicinal properties.
The betel plant is an evergreen and perennial creeper, with glossy heart-shaped leaves and white catkin. The Betel plant originated from South and South East Asia (India and Sri Lanka).
The betel leaf is known as Paan in Urdu/Hindi, and Taambuul and Nagavalli in Sanskrit. Some of the names in the regions in which it is consumed are: Vetrilai Tamil,Tamalapaku Telugu, Vidyache pan Marathi, veeleyada yele Kannada, Vettila Malayalam, Plū Mon, Malus Tetum, Maluu Khmer, Plue Thai, Malus Tetum, Bulath Sinhalese, Malu Tokodede, Bileiy Divehi, bulung samat Kapampangan language, daun sirih Malay language, Papulu Chamorro and Trầu Vietnamese.
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Teratai / Nymphaea / Water Lily

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Nymphaea (pronounced /nɪmˈfiː.ə/) is a genus of aquatic plants in the family Nymphaeaceae. There are about 50 species in the genus, which has a cosmopolitan distribution.

The common name, shared with some other genera in the same family, is water-lily or waterlily.
The name Nymphaea comes from the Greek term "Νυμφαία", possibly related to "Νύμφη" meaning "nymph". The nymphs in Greek mythology were supernatural feminine beings associated with springs, so the application of the name to delicately flowered aquatic plants is understandable.

Despite their name, water-lilies are not related to the true lilies (family Liliaceae). The name "lily" is applied to a number of plants that are not at all closely related, such as day lilies, spider lilies and arum lilies, in addition to the water lilies. Nymphaea (Egyptian lotuses) are also not related to the Chinese and Indian lotus of genus Nelumbo, which are used in Asian cooking and sacred to Hinduism and Buddhism.
However, the genus Nymphaea is closely related to Nuphar, another genus commonly called "lotus". In Nymphaea, the flower petals are much larger than the sepals, whereeas in Nuphar the petals are much smaller than its sepals. The fruit maturation also differs, with Nymphaea fruit sinking below the water level immediately after the flower closes, whereas Nuphar fruit are held above water level to maturity. Both genera share leaves with a radial notch from the circumference to the petiole (leaf stem) in the center.
he ancient Egyptians revered the Nile water-lilies, or lotuses as they were also called. The lotus motif is a frequent feature of temple column architecture.
The Egyptian Blue Water-lily, N. caerulea, opens its flowers in the morning and then sinks beneath the water at dusk, while the Egyptian White Water-lily, N. lotus, flowers at night and closes in the morning. This symbolizes the Egyptian separation of deities and is a motif associated with Egyptian beliefs concerning death and the afterlife. The recent discovery of psychedelic properties of the blue lotus may also have been known to the Egyptians and explain its ceremonial role. Remains of both flowers have been found in the burial tomb of Ramesses II.
The French painter Claude Monet is famous for his paintings of water lilies.
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Belalang / Grasshopper

Tuesday, July 21, 2009
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The grasshopper is an insect of the suborder Caelifera in the order Orthoptera. To distinguish it from bush crickets or katydids, it is sometimes referred to as short-horned grasshoppers. Species that change colour and behaviour at high population densities are called locusts.

Characteristics


Grasshoppers have antennae that are almost always shorter than the body (sometimes filamentous), and short ovipositors. Those species that make easily heard noises usually do so by rubbing the hind femurs against the forewings or abdomen (stridulation), or by snapping the wings in flight. Tympana, if present, are on the sides of the first abdominal segment. The hind femora are typically long and strong, fitted for leaping. Generally they are winged, but hind wings are membranous while front wings (tegmina) are coriaceous and not fit for flight. Females are normally larger than males, with short ovipositors. Males have a single unpaired plate at the end of the abdomen. Females have two pairs of valves ( triangles) at the end of the abdomen used to dig in sand when egg laying.
They are easily confused with the other sub-order of Orthoptera, Ensifera, but are different in many aspects, such as the number of segments in their antennae and structure of the ovipositor, as well as the location of the tympana and modes of sound production. Ensiferans have antennae with at least 20-24 segments, and caeliferans have fewer. In evolutionary terms, the split between the Caelifera and the Ensifera is no more recent than the Permo-Triassic boundary (Zeuner 1939).





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Bayam / Spinach

Saturday, July 18, 2009
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Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is an edible flowering plant in the family of Amaranthaceae. It is native to central and southwestern Asia. It is an annual plant (rarely biennial), which grows to a height of up to 30 cm. Spinach may survive over winter in temperate regions. The leaves are alternate, simple, ovate to triangular-based, very variable in size from about 2-30 cm long and 1-15 cm broad, with larger leaves at the base of the plant and small leaves higher on the flowering stem. The flowers are inconspicuous, yellow-green, 3-4 mm diameter, maturing into a small hard dry lumpy fruit cluster 5-10 mm across containing several seeds.

History

Primitive forms of spinach are found in Nepal and that is probably where the plant was first domesticated. Other than the Indian subcontinent, it was unknown in the ancient world. After the early Muslim conquests the plant spread to other areas. In 647, it was taken to China, possibly by Persians. Muslim Arabs diffused the plant westward up to Islamic Spain. By the eleventh century it was a common plant in the Muslim world.[1]
In India, in Malayalam, it is called Cheera (ചീര), in Tamil, it is called Keerai (கீரை) and in Marathi it is known as Palak (पालक), Paala koora (పాల కూర) in Telugu and is one among commonly consumed green vegetables.
Spinach was the favorite vegetable of Catherine de Medici, a historical figure in the 16th century. When she left her home of Florence, Italy, to marry the king of France, she brought along her own cooks, who could prepare spinach the ways that she especially liked. Since this time, dishes prepared on a bed of spinach are referred to as "a la Florentine."
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Pyrrhocoridae

Friday, July 17, 2009
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Belalang Pelesit / Tettigoniidae

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The family Tettigoniidae, known in American English as katydids and in British English as bush-crickets, contains more than 6,400 species. It is part of the suborder Ensifera and the only family in the superfamily Tettigonioidea. They are also known as long-horned grasshoppers, although they are more closely related to crickets than to grasshoppers. Many tettigoniids exhibit mimicry and camouflage, commonly with shapes and colors similar to leaves.
Tettigoniids may be distinguished from grasshoppers by the length of their filamentous antennae, which may exceed their own body length, while grasshoppers' antennae are always relatively short and thickened.
The males of tettigoniids have sound-producing organs (via stridulation) located on the hind angles of their front wings. In some species females are also capable of stridulation.
There are about 255 species in North America, but the majority of species live in the tropical regions of the world.
The diet of tettigoniids includes leaves, flowers, bark, and seeds, but many species are exclusively predatory, feeding on other insects, snails or even small vertebrates such as snakes and lizards. Some are also considered pests by commercial crop growers and are sprayed to limit growth. Large tettigoniids can inflict a painful bite or pinch if handled but seldom break the skin.
The males provide a nuptial gift for the females in the form of a spermatophylax, a nutritious body produced with the males' ejaculate.[1] The eggs of tettigoniids are typically oval shaped and laid in rows on the host plant.
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Cekur Manis / Sauropus androgynus

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Sauropus androgynus, also known as katuk, star gooseberry, or sweet leaf, is a shrub grown in some tropical regions as a leaf vegetable. In Chinese it is called mani cai , in Malay it is called cekur manis or sayur manis, and in Vietnamese, it is called rau ngót.
Its multiple upright stems can reach 2.5 m high and bear dark green oval leaves 5–6 cm long.
It is one of the most popular leaf vegetables in South Asia and Southeast Asia and is notable for high yields and palatability. The shoot tips have been sold as tropical asparagus. In Vietnam, people cook it with crab meat, minced pork or dried shrimp to make soup. In Malaysia, it is commonly stir-fried with egg and dried achovies.
It is among only a few flora containing vitamin K. However, studies have suggested that its consumption can cause lung damage, due to its high concentrations of the alkaloid papaverine.
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Daun Pisang / Banana leaf

Monday, July 13, 2009
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Banana leaf is the leaf of the Banana plant. It is used as a decorative element for auspicious ceremonies in Hindu and Buddhist cultures. It is also used as a plate to serve food in countries like India. Banana leaves though commonly thrown away contain large amounts of polyphenols, including EGCG, similar to green tea.

Banana leaves are predominantly used by Hindus and Buddhists as a decorative element for auspicious functions, marriages and ceremonies in India and Southeast Asia, it is also used for a taste. The Indians also believe that the banana leaf gives a special taste to the food served on it.

South Indian food is usually served on a banana leaf. Some South Indian and Khmer recipes use banana leaves as a wrapper for frying. The leaves are later removed to retain flavor. In Vietnamese cuisine, banana leaves are used to wrap foods such as cha-lua.
In Malaysia (and Singapore), banana leaves are used to wrap certain kuih. Malay food such as Nasi Lemak are also commonly wrapped with banana leaves before being wrapped with newspaper as banana leaves add fragrance to the rice.
In Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, banana leaves and parchment paper form the wrapper for pasteles (similar to tamales). Ground green bananas stuffed with meat are packed inside and then boiled with the banana leaf imparting extra flavor and aroma.
Mexican, and more specifically Oaxacan tamales and a local variety of lamb meat, or barbacoa tacos are often steamed in banana leaves. Banana leaves are used for wrapping pork in the traditional Yucatán dish Cochinita pibil. The Hawaiian imu is often lined with banana leaves.
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Daun Kari / Curry Leaf

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The Curry Tree or Karivepallai or Kadipatta (Tamil: கறிவேப்பிலை) (Murraya koenigii; syn. Bergera koenigii, Chalcas koenigii) is a tropical to sub-tropical tree in the family Rutaceae, which is native to India. It produces the leaves known as Curry leaves or Sweet Neem leaves.

t is a small tree, growing 4-6 m tall, with a trunk up to 40 cm diameter. The leaves are pinnate, with 11-21 leaflets, each leaflet 2-4 cm long and 1-2 cm broad. They are highly aromatic. The flowers are small white, and fragrant. The small black, shiny berries are edible, but their seeds are poisonous.
The species name commemorates the botanist Johann König.

The small and narrow leaves somewhat resemble the leaves of the Neem tree; therefore they are also referred to as Karuveppilai (translated to Black Neem leaf) in Tamil and Malayalam, Karu/Kari meaning black, ilai meaning leaves and veppilai meaning Neem leaf. In the Kannada language it is known as Kari BEvu and Karivepaku in Telugu, again translating to the same meaning Black Neem leaf.

Other names include Kari Patta (Hindi), which probably is a corrupt translation of Karuveppilai, noroxingha (Assamese), Bhursunga Patra (Oriya), Kadhi Patta (Marathi), Mithho Limdo (Gujarati) and Karapincha (Sinhalese).

The leaves are highly valued as seasoning in South Indian and Sri Lankan cooking, much like bay leaves and especially in curries with fish or coconut milk. In their fresh form, they have a short shelf life though they may be stored in a freezer for quite some time; however, this can result in a loss of their flavour. They are also available dried, though the aroma is much inferior.

The leaves of Murraya koenigii are also used as a herb in Ayurvedic medicine. Their properties include much value as an antidiabetic,[2] antioxidant,[3] antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective, anti-hypercholesterolemic etc.


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Bunga Kertas /Bougainvillea

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Bunga Kertas /Bougainvillea



Bougainvillea (pronounced /ˌbuːɡɨnˈvɪliə/)[1] is a genus of flowering plants native to South America from BrazilPeru and south to southern Argentina (Chubut Province). Different authors accept between four and 18 species in the genus. The plant was discovered in Brazil in 1768, by Philibert Commerçon, French Botanist accompanying French Navy admiral and explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville during his his voyage of circumnavigation. west to
They are thorny, woody, vines growing anywhere from 1-12 meters tall, scrambling over other plants with their hooked thorns. The thorns are tipped with a black, waxy substance. They are evergreen where rainfall occurs all year, or deciduous if there is a dry season. The leaves are alternate, simple ovate-acuminate, 4-13 cm long and 2-6 cm broad. The actual flower of the plant is small and generally white, but each cluster of three flowers is surrounded by three or six bracts with the bright colors associated with the plant, including pink, magenta, purple, red, orange, white, or yellow. Bougainvillea glabra is sometimes referred to as "paper flower" because the bracts are thin and papery. The fruit is a narrow five-lobed achene.
Bougainvillea are relatively pest-free plants, but may suffer from worms and aphids. The larvae of some LepidopteraGiant Leopard Moth. species also use them as food plants, for example the

Cultivation and uses

Bougainvilleas are popular ornamental plants in most areas with warm climates, including the Philippines, Thailand, Pakistan, India, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Australia, Singapore, the Mediterranean region, the Caribbean, Mexico, South Africa, Kuwait,and the United States in Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, and southern Texas.
Numerous cultivars and hybrids have been selected, including nearly thornless shrubs. Some Bougainvillea cultivars are sterile, and are propagated from cuttings.
Bougainvillea are rapid growing and flower all year in warm climates, especially when pinched or pruned. They grow best in moist fertile soil. Bloom cycles are typically four to six weeks. Bougainvillea grow best in very bright full sun and with frequent fertilization, but the plant requires little water to flower. As indoor houseplants in temperate regions, they can be kept small by bonsai techniques. If overwatered, Bougainvillea will not flower and may lose leaves or wilt, or even die from root decay.

Symbolism

Various species of Bougainvillea are the official flowers of the island of Grenada, the island of Guam, of Lienchiang and Pingtung Counties in Taiwan, Ipoh, Malaysia[1] and of the cities of Tagbilaran, Philippines; Camarillo, California; Laguna Niguel, California; San Clemente, California; and Naha, Okinawa.
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RAMA-RAMA / BUTTERFLY

Monday, June 29, 2009
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A butterfly is an insect of the order Lepidoptera. Like all Lepidoptera, butterflies are notable for their unusual life cycle with a larval caterpillar stage, an inactive pupal stage, and a spectacular metamorphosis into a familiar and colourful winged adult form. Most species are day-flying so they regularly attract attention. The diverse patterns formed by their brightly coloured wings and their erratic yet graceful flight have made butterfly watching a hobby.

Butterflies comprise the true butterflies (superfamily Papilionoidea), the skippers (superfamily Hesperioidea) and the moth-butterflies (superfamily Hedyloidea). Butterflies exhibit polymorphism, mimicry and aposematism. Some migrate over long distances. Some butterflies have evolved symbiotic and parasitic relationships with social insects such as ants. Butterflies are important economically as agents of pollination. In addition, a few species are pests, because they can damage domestic crops and trees in their larval stage.

Culturally, butterflies are a popular motif in the visual and literary arts.


The four-stage lifecycle

Unlike many insects, butterflies do not experience a nymph period, but instead go through a pupal stage which lies between the larva and the adult stage (the imago). Butterflies are termed as holometabolous insects, and go through complete metamorphosis.

It is a popular belief that butterflies have very short life spans. However, butterflies in their adult stage can live from a week to nearly a year depending on the species. Many species have long larval life stages while others can remain dormant in their pupal or egg stages and thereby survive winters.[1]

Butterflies may have one or more broods per year. The number of generations per year varies from temperate to tropical regions with tropical regions showing a trend towards multivoltinism.



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