Silverfish (Lepisma saccharina)

Did you know that silverfish belongs to an ancient order of insects (Zygentoma), which appeared on the Earth in the Carboniferous period (360-300 million years ago)? Or that silverfish do not need to drink, because they absorb water from moist air through a specially adapted anus?

Silverfish from BHL.

Silverfish are miniscule wingless insects, whose body is covered with silvery scales. They are mostly  nocturnal, when they seek out humid areas (bathrooms, toilets, basements), or places where there is plenty of food and shelter (bakeries, pastry-shops). Don't worry, the presence of silverfish in your home does not indicate lack of cleanliness, but more likely abundant hiding places. In small numbers they are essentially harmless, but they can cause problems when they multiply.

Silverfish by Miroslav Deml from EOL.

Silverfish avoid light and can often be spotted trying to hide in a corner after the lights are turned on in a room. They live on substances containing protein and saccharides, like paper, books, tapestries, cotton, leather, silk, flour, sugar, cereals and glue. Silverfish also live in nature, usually dwelling under rocks, fallen leaves, bark and such. They lay up the three eggs at a time in tiny cracks and can live up to six years.

Learn more about silverfish on Nature at your Home. Stay tuned!

Spotlight: Hudson's expedition

Did you know that members of Henry Hudson's expedition were the first Europeans to have reached the famous Manhattan Island on September 12th, 1609? They met friendly Indian tribes Algonquin and Lenape.

In 1610, on the ship named Discovery, Henry Hudson set out on the fourth of his attempts to find the Northwest Passage. He sailed from the southern tip of Greenland to Labrador, and then turned to the north. He encountered a wide channel and assumed that this was the way to China. From that day on, the bay had been called Hudson's Bay. Then, he sailed into the bay, which he assumed to be part of the Pacific Ocean, then travelled further to the south into what is known today as James' Bay. 

Henry Hudson.

In June of 1611, he set out to continue the expedition. Several days after leaving the bay, his crew mutinied. They had had enough of exploring and wanted to go home. The captain refused to consider their demands. When the crew was unable to persuade him, they set him, his son John and seven crew members loyal to Hudson adrift in a small boat and left them to their fate in a stormy and freezing sea, with no prospects of rescue. Nothing further is known of their fate.

Hudson Bay.

Locating the Northwest Passage eluded Henry Hudson, but his enthusiastic description of the area near the mouth of the Hudson River led to Dutch to colonize the area and found New Amsterdam, later New York. At the time of these discoveries, Henry was in the service of the Dutch. Learn more about Hudson's expedition in Biodiversity Library Exhibition. Stay tuned!

Humboldt Expedition to America

Did you know that Alexander von Humboldt was one of the first to voice the opinion that the continents bordering the Atlantic Ocean were once a joined land mass?

Alexander von Humboldt from BHL.

Alexander von Humboldt was a German scientist and traveler with a cosmopolitan education and a wide range of interests. Together with a French botanist Bonpland, von Humboldt arrived at Cuman, Venezuela on June 4th, 1799. They travelled along the Orinoco River to its confluence with the Atabapo River. In November 1800, they sailed to Havana and explored all over Cuba. In March 1801, they continued to Cartagena, Colombia. Along the Rio Magdalena River, they travelled to Honda and Bogota in Colombia and further to Quito, Eduador. They investigated the western slopes of the Peruvian Andes and travelled all the way to the Pacific Ocean. After a stay in Lima, Peru, they journeyed from Calla to Acapulco in Mexico, where they arrived in March 1803. They spent an entire year exploring Mexico, travelling mainly through volcanic mountain ranges. In 1804, they returned to Cuba. In 1804, they returned to Europe via the United States.

Humboldt from Europeana - image is under CC BY-NC-ND of The Royal Library: The National Library of Denmark and Copenhagen University Library.

Humboldt became the founder of volcanology; the science of terrestrial magnetism, geobotany and climatology as part of which he first proposed the concept of isotherms. He devoted himself to the study of volcanic peaks. During one expedition, Humboldt (together with Bonpland) climbed Chimborazo to over 5,000 meters. Several places are named in honour of Humboldt including two bays in California and New Guinea, two mountain ranges in central Asia and Nevada, a lake and river in Nevada, a glacier in northwest Greenland, a current in the Pacific Ocean and many cities in America.

Learn more about Humboldt and other expeditions in Biodiversity Library Exhibition. Stay tuned!

House Mouse (Mus musculus)

Meet the house mouse, a mammal that is not only a pest but also a model organism. Did you know that the house mouse comes from Asia, from where, probably travelling with grain shipments, it has spread all over the world?

House mouse from BHL

Mice are small rodents, active primarily at night. They have very sensitive hearing, sense of smell and sight. They eat almost everything they come across, food scraps, various insects, grain and even soap. Mice are found in nature as well as human dwellings, and move often. Besides the damage to food stocks, mice are unpleasant in that they leave their urine and droppings everywhere. They are also dangerous carriers of disease and parasites.

Mouse from EoL - image is under CC BY-NC

Mice build nests under floors or in attics, and line them with paper, rags, leaves and similar materials. They breed very quickly; females can have up to twelve young, five to ten times per year. Gestation is approximately 20 days. The young are ready to leave the nest in another 20 days, and become sexually mature within their first year. In captivity they can live up to four years. They have many natural predators, like carnivores, snakes and birds.

Listen mice sounds at Europeana, these items are under CC BY-NC-ND of Museum für Naturkunde Berlin

Meet more animals which live in human dwellings at Biodiversity Library Exhibition topic called "Nature at your home". Stay tuned!

New Biodiversity Library Exhibition topic – Nature at your home

Wow, have you seen the new BLE topic called „Nature at your home“? This topic gives you an insight on what organisms may be found living near or directly inside your house.

„Nature at your home“ presents more than 20 different species of plants or animals, that have learnt to exploit the benefits of living close to human settlements. You can find them in your garden, as well as directly within your house or flat, sometimes being much closer than you have ever thought. Our new topic, however, also shows that these organisms are also fascinating creatures of the nature. Have you, for example, known that Oriental Cockroach (Blatta orientalis) is able to survive several weeks without its head until it starves to death? Or that the Human Flea (Pulex irritans) posseses the most complex reproductive organs among the animals? If not, then all you need to do is to go through our new topic at the BLE website!

All of the information, pictures and paintings in „Nature at you home“ are linked to their original sources at BHL, EoL or Europeana. Stay tuned!