Monday, April 23, 2012

Endocrinology - Hormones

Posterior Lobe of the Pituitary Gland
Hormones released here are made in the hypothalamus.  There are 2:
  • ADH - anti-diuretic hormone - increases permeability of the collecting ducts in the kidney so they absorb more water back out of the filtrate and into the blood.
  • Oxytocin - stimulates contractions of vans deferens and uterus during intercourse.  Also stimulates uterine contraction during labor (a synthetic form "pitocin" is sometimes given to induce labor), and milk let-down during lactation.  According to this site I found, this hormone is also responsible for bonding feelings between males and females after mating, for mother-newborn bonding, and it also increases levels of trust in people.  Cool.

Anterior Lobe of the Pituitary Gland
  • TSH - Thyroid Stimulating Hormone.
    • The release of this hormone is stimulated by thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH) from the hypothalamus.
    • TSH acts on the thyroid to release T3 and T4.
    • T3 and T4 - stimulate protein synthesis and growth, promotes normal growth of the nervous system and myelin sheaths, controls basal metabolic rate.
    • Negative feedback loop - presence of T3 and T4 inhibit release of TSH (as does stress)
  • GH - Growth Hormone.
    • Release is stimulated by GHRH from the hypothalamus.
    • Sleep, exercise, fasting, and hypoglycemia increase GHRH which increases GH
    • Stimulates release of somatomedins from liver and other tissues
      • promote growth of long bones at ephiphyseal plates (growth plates)
      • this increases blood glucose
      • increases release of fatty acids from adipose tissue
      • increases protein synthesis
    • Negative feedback loop - GH and somatomedins decrease GH
  • PRL - Prolactin
    • Stimulated by oxytocin, TRH, and estrogen
    • Supply and demand (infant suckling, which increases oxytocin, and more PRL)
    • Inhibited by dopamine
    • PRL stimulates glandular tissue in breasts, milk production, mobilizes calcium from the bone for milk production, and stimulates the immune system (I'm guessing to be put into the milk as passive immunity for the baby)
  • ACTH - AdrenoCorticoTropic hormone
    • It's a big chain - CRH from hypothalamus --> ACTH from anterior pituitary ---> cortisol from adrenal cortex ---> decreases CRH and ACTH by way of negative feedback
Thyroid - C cells
  • Calcitonin
    • Stimulated by increased blood calcium levels
    • Inhibited by decreased blood calcium levels (negative feedback loop - supply and demand)
    • Stimulates calcium uptake into bones resulting in a decreased blood calcium level.
Parathyroid Gland
  • PTH - Parathyroid hormones
    • Opposite of calcitonin (stimulated by low blood calcium, inhibited by high blood calcium)
    • Mobilizes calcium from bone
    • Decreases rate of calcium excretion by kidneys
    • Lowers phosphate in blood
    • Activates vitamin D in kidney - stimulates calcium absorption in the intestine
*Calcium is needed for muscle and nerve function, so Calcitonin and PTH work together to maintain the proper balance of calcium in the blood for use in these areas.

Adrenal Medulla
  •  Epinephrine and norepinephrine
    • Stimulated by - sympathetic nervous system, exercise, hypoglycemia, injury, hypotension
    • Stimulates glycogenolysis in liver and muscles
    • Gluconeogenesis in liver
    • Lactic acid production in muscles
    • Increases heart rate
Adrenal Cortex
  • Cortisol - Glucocorticoids
    •  CRH (corticotropin releasing hormone) from the hypothalamus stimulates ACTH from the anterior pituitary which stimulates cortisol to be released from the adrenal cortex
    • Inhibits inflammatory response
    • Inhibits immune system functions
    • Inhibits cytokines (chemical messengers that call for more immune system helpers)
    • Stimulates gluconeogenesis, glycogen storage, and raising of plasma glucose levels
    • Increases fatty acid mobilization
    • Increases break down of protein to amino acids
*Now I understand - this is why I don't get sick until after a stressful situation is over (like finals or a big project).  I often get sick right after big things like that.  It's because the high stress I'm under leads to high cortisol which suppresses my immune system functions.  That's kind of scary to think that I have levels of cortisol high enough to keep me from having symptoms of sickness for that long.
  • Aldosterone - mineralocoricoids
    • Made in adrenal cortex
    • Angiotensin II in plasma or elevated serum potassium stimulates it
    • Causes sodium reabsorption and potassium excretion by kidneys
  • Glucagon
    • responds to low blood glucose
    • mobilizes glucose into the blood (through glycogenolysis, gluconeogenesis, ketone body formation)
    • Prevents hypoglycemia
  • Insulin
    • responds to high blood glucose and/or amino acids
    • allows cells to take in glucose and/or amino acids (this is pretty cool- when insulin is on the receptor, the cell puts a bunch of channels out into its membrane to allow glucose to enter.  As soon as insulin leaves the receptor, the cell endocytoses the channels back into the cell to wait for the next time.
    • stimulates glycogen synthesis, lipogenesis, protein synthesis
    • inhibits lypolysis and ketone formation

Friday, April 20, 2012

UVU's newest addition - Science Building

View from the atrium of the new Science Building

Today is the open house and ribbon cutting for the new Science Building.  As I sat in the 400-seat auditorium next to the aisle, a myriad of important civic and community leaders and UVU faculty passed by.  Orem Mayor James Evans, Congressmen Jason Chaffetz, Bill ...? , President of United Way (can't remember his last name at the moment, sorry.  He was on the Mountainland Head Start Board when I was the Policy Council President and got to go to the board meetings), of course Dean Rushforth (Dean of the College of Science and Health) and President Holland, and some legislators, regents, donors.

Dean Rushforth started things off with many nice words about all the people who made this possible.  He said when he came on as the Dean "at the same time Moses brought the tablets down from the mountain", he immediately recognized the need for growth.  Ten years ago he talked to legislators about getting funding, nine years ago he talked to them again, eight years ago, etc.  And then President Holland arrives at UVU and 2 years later here we are in the new building.  "Does that seem fair to you?" he asked amidst laughter from the crowd.

President Holland spoke next and teased Dean Rushforth but then got serious and complimented all his hard work and there was a very long applaus.  He thanked more people but he also pointed out a student who had a huge impact on getting this building funded.  Kristopher Lange - he was the UVU Student Association senator for the college of science and health.  He talked to legislators, students, led marches on capital hill, thousands signed a petition, students collected old shoes to raise money (I remember those bins being in the halls!).  He was very influential and did all this through his college career even though he would personally never take a class in the new building.

Project Sole helped gather money for the Science Building

 He was invited up and spoke for a few minutes, and gave quite a stirring speech about how and why he did this.  He received the longest applause out of anyone, which was very appropriate.  What a great influential and inspiring person.
President Holland gave a great quote from ...... about science and what it should and shouldn't be used for.  I need to look that up too!  It was cool.  While he was talking I suddenly had a flashback to General Conference because he sounded exactly like his father! (President Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)  And of course he looks just like him too.
Jeffrey R. Holland
Matthew S. Holland

Governor Herbert spoke next and was very complimentary toward UVU.  A bunch of the lights turned out in the middle of his speech to which he said, "I also, as part of my campaign, focus on renewable energy... and working to prevent brown outs..." :)  They got them back on quickly but it was funny.

Finally, we got to go out into the atrium which is just an open commons area outside of the auditorium for the ribbon cutting.  I went upstairs to watch from above.  By the way, I'm totally kicking myself for not bringing my camera today - it's even in my car.  But, I digress...
Since this is, after all, a science center, they said they aren't going to just "cut" the ribbon, but instead do something much more scientific.  So Danny Horns, Assistant Dean, poured liquid nitrogen on the ribbon and then the ribbon "cutters" used rock hammers on it!  It was awesome.

They did a great job with this open house and party.  They had a luncheon with some food that was science themed - Sub Zero Ice Cream came with their ice cream made with liquid nitrogen.  They also had "atom melon balls" - melon balls connected with tooth picks, colored celery with a display of them in colored water, and "mad scientist mix".  There were also some freebies - t-shirts, water bottles, info.  Good stuff!

I took a tour and this building is so sweet!  The towers that are visible from the freeway - 2 glass things pointed on top - are cool and there are neat study areas housed in them.  There is a greenhouse on the roof, tons of labs and classrooms.  The physiology and anatomy lab rooms are really awesome, I'm kinda bummed I already took those classes.  They have neat ventilated tables for the cadavers, so the smell wouldn't have been such a problem for me if I'd taken it in the new building.

I'm so excited to have classes in the new building for summer!  And now, back to studying for finals...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Leukocytes and Antibodies

Time to study physiology again! :)

Leukocyte (aka white blood cell) Types
Contents (scroll down or click to learn more about each)
  1. Neutrophils*
  2. Eosinophils*
  3. Basophils*
  4. Natural Killer cells
  5. Monocytes
  6. Lymphocytes
    1. B cells
    2. T cells
*First 3 are granulocytes, meaning they have little granules inside which get released as they are activated
1-4 are nonspecific immunity, the rest are specific

  • Most abundant white blood cells - about 55-75%
  • Nonspecific immunity
  • Phagocytotic - eat bacteria mostly
    • They take in the bacterium into a vesicle which then fuses to a lysosome inside the cytoplasm and the digestive enzymes contained within the lysosome kill the bacterium
  • Diapedesis (squeezing through blood vessel walls to get to the site of infection)
  • Made in the bone marrow
  • Live for hours in the blood, a couple days in the tissues
  • Follow chemotactic factors given off by the resident mast cells near the site of infection (like a trail of bread crumbs!)
Oh my gosh! I just realized my favorite video is showing this process pictured in the above diagram!  You have to watch this, it's the greatest thing ever, but if you're wise you'll actually view it through this link to the creators' website because it's much better quality.  But just in case you need it, I also uploaded the version from YouTube.

And then there's this 8 minute version which has some things labeled for the true nerds.  And this confirms that this is in fact a neutrophil doing diapedisis at the end. :)  Geek out moment!


  • 2-4% of WBC's
  • Phagocytotic -  antigen-antibody complexes
  • Diapedesis
  • Fight parasitic infections
  • Phagocytose antigen-antibody complexes
  • May detoxify foreign proteins 
  • Granules release toxic substances such as free radicals that kill bacteria and parasites
  • Made in the bone marrow
  • Live in blood for a few hours, and a couple days in tissue

  •  0.5-1% of WBC's
  • Become resident Mast Cells in the tissues
  • Inflammatory cell, does liquifaction
  • Have granules in them filled with histamine (and stuff)
 Mast Cells (grown up Basophils)
  • Mast cells become activated by being damaged or by activated compliment, or a protein from neutrophils.  Since they live in the tissues, it makes sense that they are there kind of as the alarm system- if you cut your finger, mast cells in that tissue will be activated, starting the ball rolling on immunity.
  • When "degranulated" (activated), mast cells immediately release:
    • histamine - increases local blood flow and capillary permeability in the infected area
    • heparin - anti-clotting factor to help prevent clotting from getting out of control or spreading beyond where it needs to be
    • chemotactic factor - attracts neutrophils and eosinophils to come to the area of infection and take care of business (or DTTTD as Shively would that thing they do)
    • platelet activating factor - does what the name implies
  • More slowly (over a couple minutes), also releases:
    • prostaglandins
    • leukotrienes

  • Play big role in allergies because of the histamine (to remember- you may have heard that "anti-histamines" are allergy meds).  Very severe allergies can lead to anaphylactic shock which is life threatening and can kill a person very quickly.  Since histamine dilates the capillaries, if it goes systemic, this would lead to lethally low blood pressure, which is why epinephrine must be immediately administered, which constricts blood vessels and gets blood pressure back up.  (Woohoo, I get that now!)
Natural Killer Cells
  • Nonspecific immunity
  • Work similarly to cytotoxic T cells
  • Insert perforin into foreign cells - basically a big protein with a hole in it so the cell ends up with a gaping hole and everything leaks out, lysing the cell

  • Phagocytotic - can kill thousands of bacteria (see the cool picture)
  • Diapedesis
  • Become macrophages in the tissues
  • Nonspecific immunity
  • Live for a few hours in the blood, months or years in the tissue
  • Memory cells

Macrophages - (grown up monocytes)
The name "macro" "phage" refers to phagocytosis - they are awesome phagocytosers (I'm sure that's not really a word, sorry.  But you get the idea.)
4 types:
  • tissue macrophages - in all tissues of the body
  • Kupffer cells - line sinusoids of liver
  • Alveolar macrophages - line alveoli of lung
  • Microglia - in the brain
Release stuff:
  • Colony stimulating factors - sends the message to bone marrow to stimulate the production of more WBC's
  • Cytokines - (interleukine-1, interleukine-6, tumor necrosis factor) - these do many things, but the one that stands out (to me) is activating T and B cells so specific immunity can be developed.
This is super cool.  This is a macrophage in a mouse reaching out its pseudopodia to grab and engulf antigens.  Macrophages don't sit around and wait for stuff to come to them!

B Lymphocytes
  • Circulation pattern: lymph nodes - lymph - blood - tissue spaces - lymph
  • Make antibodies
  • Start their development in the bone marrow, then some of them travel to the liver to finish maturing
  • Specific immunity
  • humoral immunity (humor = body fluids), don't do hand-to-hand combat
  • Once exposed to an antigen, they differentiate into memory cells or plasma cells
Memory Cells
  • When an antigen is processed by a macrophage, it presents part of the antigen on its surface for the B-cell to be exposed to
  • These memory cells then divide and conquer, literally.  They multiply into both more memory cells and plasma cells
Plasma Cells
  • Antibody mass-producing factories
  • Only live 3 days

T Lymphocytes
  • Attack abnormal, foreign, or virus-infected cells
  • Cell-mediated immunity (T cells have to be in contact with the cell they attack)
  • Three types:
    • Cytotoxic T cells
    • Helper T cells- release cytokines that stimulate production of different cell types, inhibit migration of macrophages, and direct immune cells to site of infection.
    • Suppressor T cells

IgG - most abundant, produced when body is subsequently exposed to antigen
IgA - mucus membranes, all things opening to the surface - breast milk, tears, saliva, etc
IgE - activates mast cells to release histimine
IgM - serve as the B cell surface receptor and is secreted in early stages of plasma cell response
IgD - is found on surface of B-lymphocytes (antibodies)

Much of this info is paraphrased from physiology course notes by Dr. Heather Ashworth at UVU
Supplemental info paraphrased from wikipedia and others such as:
This site has a very detailed and awesome overview of all this stuff, so if you need more info, go here:

Friday, April 13, 2012

Phyla of Kingdom Animalia

This is just 10 of the Phyla belonging to the Animal Kingdom, I am putting these up here to help me study for my Biology test.  So I am listing the classification.  Click on each phylum to see characteristics, and more information and pictures!  Hope this is useful for someone - please leave a comment!
Click to enlarge  (Source)
Phylum Porifera - Sponges

  • Choanocytes (also called collar cells) - flagellated cells that trap and ingest food
  • Filter feeders - water goes in through a pore, up through the spongocoel (body cavity), and out the osculum (mouth) where food particles are trapped in the choanocytes
  • Parazoa - not true animals
  • No true tissues
  • Amoebocytes - Cells in the mesohyl ("middle matter") that transport nutrients to the sponge,  make spicules of CaCO3 (Calcium carbonate) for the skeleton, and can differentiate into any type of cell for the sponge
  • Cribrostatin - a chemical made by the sponge that has antibiotic properties (big in medical research)

Source prior to my extra labels
Phylum Cnidaria
  • Cnidocytes - stinging cells that insert a toxic string into prey
  • All carnivores
  • diploblastic
  • radial symmetry
  • single mouth/ anus
  • 2 body forms - medusa and polyp

  1. Class Hydrozoa ("water animal") - hydras
    • alternate between medusa and polyp forms
    1/2 cm long - Source
  2. Class Scyphozoa ("cup animal") - jellies
    • medusa form predominant
    Photo by me - Oregon Coast Aquarium, June 2012
  3. Class Cubozoa ("cube animal")- box jellies
    • medusa form only
      Box Jelly - source
    • most deadly venom in the world
    • painful sting will put a human into shock and they usually drown before reaching shore
    • Also called "sea wasps" and "marine stingers"
    • Each tentacle has about 5,000 stinging cells
    • Not triggered by touch, but by a chemical on the outside of their prey
    • Sea turtles are unaffected by the sting, and regularly eat the jellies  (Info from "Animal Society" blog)

  4. Class Anthezoa ("flower animal")- anemones, coral
    • polyp form only
    Giant Green Sea Anemone and orange Cup Coral
    Photo by me - Hatfield Marine Science Center, July 2012

Phylum Platyhelminthes - flatworms
  • Acoelomates
  • Flattened dorsoventrally
  1. Class Turbellara - planarians
    • Only non-parasitic flatworm
  1. Class Cestoda - tapeworms
    Click for Source
    • Head called scolex is equipped with suckers and hooks used to bore into intestinal wall in human host and take nutrients and just hang out there. 
    • Body segments called proglottids contain reproductive organs (hermaphroditic).  These segments, full of eggs, break off sometimes and are excreted in the feces where they can be spread if poor hygeine and sanitation don't interfere. 

  1.  Class Trematoda - flukes
  2. Class Monogenae
Phylum Nematoda - round worms
Phylum Rotifera
Phylum Annelida - segmented worms
  1. Class Clitellata - earthworms
    • Have clitella which houses the reproductive organs (hermaphroditic)
  1. Class Hirudinea - leeches
Phylum Echinodermata
  • deuterostomes
  • sessile, marine, bottom-dwelling
  • pentaradial symmetry
  • has water vascular system used for locomotion, feeding, and gas exchange
  1. Class Asteroidea - sea stars (Link to a post on specific sea stars and more on their anatomy) 
  2. Class Concentricycloidea - sea daisies
  3. Class Echinoidea - sand dollars & sea urchins
  4. Class Uphinoidea - brittle stars
  5. Class Crinoidea
  6. Class Holomuroidea - sea cucumbers 
Phylum Mollusca
  • Have 3 parts to their body
    • visceral mass
    • mantle (this is the part that secretes the shell)
    • muscular foot (modified into tentacles in cephalopods)
  1. Class Gastropoda - Snails
  2. Class Cephalopoda ("head foot") - Squid, Octopus
  3. Class Bivalvia - clams, oysters
  4. Class Polylacophora
Phylum Arthropoda
  1. Subphylum Hexapoda
    1. Class Insecta
  2. Subphylum Myriapoda
    1. Class Chilopoda - centipedes
    2. Class Diplopoda - millipedes
  3. Subphylum Crustacea
  4. Subphylum Trilobitomorpha - trilobites (extinct)
  5. Subphylum Cheliciformata
    1. Class Meristomata - horseshoe crabs
    2. Class Pycnogonida - sea spiders
    3. Class Arachnida
      1. Order Araneae - spiders
      2. Order Acari - mites & ticks
      3. Order Opiliones - harvestmen
      4. Order Scorpiones - scorpions  
Phylum Chordata
  • At some point in their development, all chordates have the following:
    • Notochord
    • Hollow dorsal nerve cord
    • Pharyngeal slits
    • Post-anal tail
  1. Subphylum Urochordata
  2. Subphylum Cephalochordata - lancelets
  3. Subphylum Vertebrata
    1. Class Agnatha - no idea
    2. Class Chondrichthys - cartilaginous fish
    3. Class Osteichthys - bony fish
    4. Class Amphibia - frogs, salamanders, etc.
    5. Class Reptilia - snakes, turtles, lizards, etc.
    6. Class Aves - birds
    7. Class Mammalia - you

Friday, April 6, 2012

Hairless Homo sapiens

In Biology this morning we talked about the evolution of primates.  When he showed a slide of all the different groups including humans, I found it quite striking that humans look very different from the other primates - not only in the way we stand up straight on two feet, but the obvious lack of fur all over our bodies.  We do have fine hair on the arms and legs and torso (thicker in males), but what kind of evolutionary advantage could there have possibly been to make us loser our fur?  That doesn't make sense to me.  I asked my professor and he said we don't know.  We don't know when it happened or why.  They think a lot of other Homo species retained their fur for quite a while but we just don't know.  Just as there is preservational bias with dinosaurs (finding soft tissues, feathers, etc, is rare because they break down and aren't preserved in the rocks), the same is true of remains of ancient Hominid species.

Why Humans and their hair parted ways

There are a few theories I found at this site, such as perhaps humans went through a semi-aquatic phase, or lost their hair to adapt to hotter conditions in Africa, and sexual selection.  Another article related this to modern times and how hairlessness is still favored in sexual selection.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Ring-necked Pheasant

On the way up to dry canyon we saw a beautiful bird and sadly this is what I got on my camera after taking a while to realize I even had my camera in the car, then getting it out and trying to get the bird before it ran away:

So, after a quick search online I found that there is only one species of pheasant that lives in Utah (I was pretty sure it was a pheasant of some type).  This is the ring-necked pheasant:

I am betting this guy up Dry Canyon was being hunted, because a minute later on the other side of the road we saw a man and a dog tracking along.  This also explains why the bird was laying low - running through the grass and trees instead of taking to the sky.

This species - Phasianus colchicus - was introduced from Asia to the United States as a game bird.  They live in open grasslands and cultivated farms.  They only live about 10 months for males and 20 months for females in the wild, but can live 6 or more years in captivity. Male birds like this one are brightly colored to help win a mate in courtship, but that is obviously a disadvantage as far as survival of the individual, with male life spans being half that of the females who are brown and blend in a lot better.

Female Ring-necked Pheasant - Source "On the Wing Photography"

 To learn more about this bird, visit Hogle Zoo's website:

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Big Bang

Again the lines of science and religion are crossing in this post.  But since this is my blog I can do whatever I want. :)  It's who I am, in reality I'm a gospel nerd as much as I am a science nerd. And they go together quite beautifully in my opinion.  So that is my disclaimer, choose to read or not, and I do invite you to comment.

"Anyone who has studied the inner workings of the human body has seen God moving in His majesty and power.  ..Some think such marvelous things happened by chance or resulted from a big bang somewhere.  Ask yourself - could an explosion in a printing shop produce a dictionary?"
-Russell M. Nelson, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

I define myself as an open-minded skeptic.  (Those two adjectives are not antagonists, I promise.)  I don't personally believe in the Big Bang Theory.  I must admit I need to learn more about it.  But I am a big believer that truth is logical.  The things I believe - both in science and in religion - make sense.  To allow us to learn, grow, and do many good things by our free will, God gave us many tools - most notably our brain.  The Big Bang theory doesn't make sense to me.  Mostly, the evidences that they have found and attributed to this theory don't seem very conclusive at all to me- there are many many ways these things could be interpreted, but sometimes scientists take the observances and try to assimilate it into a theory that they already have.  Naturally that's the most logical thing for them to do.  I just keep in mind that science doesn't have all the answers.  We keep learning more and more, and if at any time someone states that we know it all about any particular thing, I would think them a fool.  Even with something like our own bodies - we know a ton about them and how they work.  But we still don't know or understand it all.

Internationally renown Astrophysicist George F. R. Ellis explains: "People need to be aware that there is a range of models that could explain the observations….For instance, I can construct you a spherically symmetrical universe with Earth at its center, and you cannot disprove it based on observations….You can only exclude it on philosophical grounds. In my view there is absolutely nothing wrong in that. What I want to bring into the open is the fact that we are using philosophical criteria in choosing our models. A lot of cosmology tries to hide that."
From another leader - the Prophet on the earth today (literally today, April 1, 2012, President Thomas S. Monson:
"Where did we come from?  Why are we here?  Where do we go?  Answers to these are not discovered in academia's textbooks or on the internet.  They embrace eternity.  Where do we come from?  This query is inevitably thought if not spoken by every human being."
He told a story of a man who became convinced that death was the end.  But then all that crumbled and he came back to his faith.  What made the difference?  President Monson explains:
"His wife died.  With a broken heart, he went to the room where lay all that was mortal of her.  He looked again at the face he loved so well.  Coming out he said to a friend - 'it is she, and yet it is not she.  Everything is changed.  Something that was there before is taken away.  She is not the same.  What could be gone, if it be not the soul?'  Later he wrote - 'Death is not what some people imagine. It is only like going into another room.  In that other room we shall find the dear women and men and children we have loved and lost.' "

So I guess it comes down to this.  The science attempts to explain how things happen.  The gospel tells us why.  I think that is the point that the Church leaders have been trying to get across.  Don't try to turn to science to answer the why questions.

Boxelder in Provo Canyon

My first entomology post!
I made a jaunt up Provo Canyon yesterday to try to take a hike with my kids.  Someone told me I could find some fossils up above Nunn's Park so my 4-year-old was excited about that.

But we had two complications that prevented the hike and fossil hunting from happening.  1 - no bridge across Provo River (but it's pretty shallow so next time we'll just wear sandals). 2- my boys were freaking out about the Boxelder bugs and we couldn't stay and hike.  Bummer.  The Boxelder bugs were everywhere and it is obviously mating season, they were paired up all over the place.

 Boisea trivittata is the scientific name for these insects.

Boxelder bugs mating (in case you couldn't tell) click for source

They get their name from their home - the Boxelder tree.  They eat vegetation and seeds low to the ground in spring and early summer.  They mate shortly after they come out from overwintering, and lay their eggs on female Boxelder trees. (Paraphrased from University of Minnesota Extension website.)
Box Elder tree (I thought these were cancerous when I saw them!)

"Eggs are deposited in masses of 10 or 11 eggs usually in bark crevices. Each female deposits about 230 eggs. The eggs hatch in about 2 weeks. Development of the six nymphal stages takes 50 to 70 days. The boxelder bug population increases rapidly from middle July to early September."  Oh my children will just love that news.  (Quote source)


And even better, these bugs have crazy feeding behavior.  They hide out under the Boxelder trees, then when the seeds are developing on the female trees in early summer, the bugs move into the trees to chow down.  Boxelder bugs have also been reported to be cannibalistic, especially when the victim is molting.  They also eat other dead or dying insects.  Yum.  (Paraphrased - NCSU Extension.)