Prescription for Biological Control

(oops! I thought I had Published this post earlier; wrong button.)

a ladybeetle crawls down the middle of a weekly pill-sorter box

a ladybeetle crawls down the middle of a weekly pill-sorter box

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Meet the Zebras

A large, black and white striped butterfly nectaring no a purple coneflower

A large, black and white striped butterfly nectaring on a purple coneflower

In the field of medicine, there’s a saying that, “If you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.” This means that although medical students will learn of a great many odd diseases, some of them are quite exotic (“zebras”), but that most patients’ complaints will resolve to common causes (“horses”).

Which of course does not mean that one won’t encounter “zebras”.  Once a very great while there will be someone with the rare genetic disorder or unusual psychological glitch.  Mayhap even someone with several rare genetic disorders and unusual psychological glitches!  This insect profile post is dedicated to all you readers out there who are “zebras”.  (Wave to the crowd folks; let them know that “rare” is not synonymous with “you’ll never meet them”.)

Like medical zebras, Zebra Swallowtails (Papilionidae: Eurytides marcellus) are rare amongst butterflies.  They are not endangered, but unlike Monarchs, Cabbage Whites or Painted Ladies, you don’t see these zebras very often.  This is a big butterfly, about 6-9 cm (2.5-3.5″) wide.  They live in the eastern half of North America, and can be found wafting around the borders between fields and woods or streams.  The reason such a large and striking butterfly lives in such obscurity is not for limitations in ecotone; it will live most anywhere but montane and alpine zones. It’s not even limited by breeding season; there are two broods in northern populations, and four broods in southern.

Rather, they are rare because the larvae are monophagous (a fancy word for “only eats one kind of thing” — a parent might lament, “My child is seemingly monophagous upon Goldfish crackers”).  Well, plenty of catepillars out there are picky.  But Zebra Swallowtail ‘pillars will only eat the leaves of pawpaw trees (Asimina triloba) and other species of the genus.  Unlike the ubiquitous callery flowering pear trees or purple barberry shrubs, homeowners and parks managers do not go around planting pawpaws.  Unacommodated by the lack of host plants, the butterflies spend their lives beyond the outskirts of the developed world. Only butterfly enthusiasts and rare fruit fanciers who go around planting pawpaws Just Because, or residents of diversified country wilds will have much hope of seeing zebras.

It’s not that medical or butterfly zebras don’t exist, but that you have to know where to find them.  You also have to be willing to support their particular needs to have the opportunity to get to know them.  But either one of those conditions requires understanding that zebras even exist.  Yes, you might even (gasp!) have one in Your Back Yard!  It’s true.  And now that you have a better search image, I guarantee that you will be much more likely to meet them.

Stories of Yesteryear (II)

I found these several-years-old tales while looking for something else — you know how that goes!  Meanwhile, I have a report, a PowerPoint, an assignment, a summary and remarks to complete in the next 48 hours, so once again there’s not much time for new stuff.  However, I have found the background material to answer someone’s ADHD question and will post that in a couple of days.

(Previous Stories of Yesteryear.)

It is Saturday evening and we are having a family movie night.  I have made buttered popcorn, and remembered to put the lid on the air popper this time!  My son has made a pitcher of lemonade, and daughter is busy digging through the piles of VHS and DVDs.  Our video cabinet has an almost surreal quality – like the wardrobe that leads to Narnia, it seems bigger on the inside than the outside, and more than once most of my  daughter has disappeared within its depths as she digs through the movies.

After much vociferous discussion we decide to watch a Star Trek show, the Deep Space Nine episode “Trials and Tribblations”.  We have all see this episode several times, and are delivering the especially funny lines of dialog along with the actors, as well as making accessory comments along the way.

In the show, Odo and Worf are at the bar, trying to not to stand out, but being aliens, failing to do so.  “You know,” I remark during an action lull, “I always sympathized with Odo – he tries so hard to fit in, but never quite makes it.”

My son laughs, “Just like you, Mom.”

And I grin at him. Read the rest of this entry »

Diggout From Inder

That title was a typo, but I decided I liked the twist on “digging out from under”. So here I am, finally with computer issues sorted out and a HEAP of blogging buzzing around in me head, so without further ado, let’s start with:

IN RATHER A JAM

Last week was National Pollinator Week. Yes, I missed it, but Bug Girl didn’t! Pollinators include not only honeybees, but also solitary bees, bumblebees, various species of wasps, flies, butterflies & moths, bats, and birds. Honeybees are not native to the Americas, but are vital to the production of other equally non-native crops, such as most tree fruits, bramble fruits, tree nuts, herbs, seeds for vegetables and herbs and flowers, the clover and alfalfa consumed by our non-native livestock, cotton, even wine grapes. As Bug Girl points out, the estimated value of all this pollen-transfer is in the billions (with a B) of dollars for the US alone — it is multiply times larger when you consider all the crop production in the rest of the world, such as tropical crops like neem, coffee, tea, and chocolate!

The reason why I have the nearly-empty jar of jam pictured is because pollinators are not only vitally important for anyone who likes to eat (or wear cotton et cetera), but also because Colony Collapse Disorder is creating great losses of honeybees. According to a recent release by the USDA, honeybees are responsible for the pollination of 130 major crops, at a value of $ 15 billion annually. Beekeepers lost 31% of their hives in 2006, and then 35% in 2007. Not only are food prices rising due to a number of other factors (drought, flooding, fuel costs), but also from the reduced production of produce due to honeybee losses. Do your part to protect pollinators by using any pesticides only when necessary, and following the directions carefully — for example, Sevin is toxic to honeybees, and if you see honeybees around, they are likely someone’s livestock. (You wouldn’t stop by a field and start shooting cattle, would you?) I made a large batch of fantastic blueberry conserve with lemon last year, but this year berry production has dropped, so the quarts of produce are just too dear (expensive). When this jar is empty, we have No. More. Left.

“BLAST THE CRUSHING FORCES OF STUPIDITY!”

In other topics, the Carnival of the Elitist Bastards #2 has just been posted, and the ship returns to dock full of stories. Not familiar with this new carnival? Their description asks of you, Read the rest of this entry »

*Whew*

Got my computer fixed. It was only gone for a few days, and I backed up my docs and music and pix and extra programs before taking it in, but as I anticipated, it came back with a fresh OS installed. So I had to sort through the shiny new programs and adjust all of my setting preferences, and decide which files I really need to dump back on. After three days of paranoia and considerable annoyance, I found where I had backed up my 200+ bookmarks some three months ago *whew!* Imported calendar data into different program and got to two appointments okay *double-whew!* Finished job app. Got class reports turned in on time.

I feel like I’m making progress, but considering that my Things To Do list never gets any shorter, I might just be walking the wrong direction on a “slidewalk” (moving walkway). But omigosh, I will actually be able to get some blogging done again!

But not soon; I’m tired, and then there’s tutoring and a bunch of errands and an exam to sit and grocery shopping and probably several other things that aren’t coming to mind at the moment, that need to get done first.

On the other hand, I did find a Minuscule that I had not seen before, and I’m going to assume that everyone else is likewise “up to their ass in alligators” and also needing some fun. So kick back and enjoy the surprise ending!

“L’attaque de la sucette rose”

“Danger Will Robinson, Danger!”

Sigh.  My laptop is in the shop.  So, cannot share new insect pix, and am working through convoluted annoyances getting classwork and job apps done.  Meanwhile, I was stuck waiting for someone …

Uh-oh, I discovered the fab crafts at Etsy, and there are more insect-themed prints-clothes-jewelry-et cetera than you can shake a stick at.  I don’t mean just the usual kitschy hair-clips, stuffed animals, aprons and tee shirts; they also have very nice cufflinks, neckties, beaded chain mail, steampunk type stuff, capacitor insects, necklaces made of resistors

I don’t need any coasters.  But dang! You gotta love someone who not only crafts nice things, but also is so literate:  “Karl von Frisch Coasters” found at theseawithin’s shop. (Karl von Frisch was the ethologist who deciphered the honeybees’ waggle dance.)

Wow.  Geek out to your heart’s content; I have reports to write.

 

 

Not so fearsome now, eh?

To Boldly Go

or for the grammar mavens, To Go Boldly.

I found a Bold Jumping Spider (Salticidae: Phidippus audax), inside the house, running around near a window. Don’t let the photos fool you — this cute little spider is smaller than a dime, about a centimeter long. This was quite a difficult animal to shoot — it kept bouncing around, and I had to herd it back towards me by touching the wall to one side of it, so the photo’s not in complete focus.

When I got close enough to take a photo, it reared back and waved its pedipalpi (the “feelers” under the face) over its iridescent green chelicerae (fangs), a threat display which certainly caught my attention. This is a very common species of jumping spider; like the others in its genus, it has those gorgeous iridescent green chelicerae (I’m a sucker for iridescent greens and blues, ooh shiny).

Salticids have four large eyes at the front, which gives them Read the rest of this entry »

Home on the Range

It’s spring, and with spring we were once again entertaining the invasion of the Little Black Ants*. (Yes indeedy, sometimes the common names of insects are actually straightforward, and we have things like Little Black Ants or Soft Brown Scale.) Every year I put out the bait traps and spend several days sponging most of the 3 mm. arthropods off the counters and drowning them in the sudsy dishwater, until the rest of the wee bastards have taken enough poison back to crash the colony.

Don’t get me wrong — I like ants. I think they’re fascinating, and spent many happy hours of my childhood watching them. I just don’t want them in my house any more than they want me in theirs.

It’s tiresome for me, and it’s tiresome for the family who are subjected to mum’s infobites about the Formicidae, although this past week the kid finally understood why the alien race from the Ender’s Game books was called the Formics. (However, ants have nothing to do with Formica plastic, which just goes to show that etymology is as convoluted as entomology.)

Ants will of course, leave trail-pheromones for other ants to follow, and these were all energetically tracking around in their proscribed invisible-Tube map pathways around my sink, the faucet, the countertops, the splashback tiles, the Kitchen-Aid mixer, the breadbox, the cutting board, the knife block, the dish (draining) rack, the electrical sockets and switches, the toaster oven, the stovetop (range), the sugarbowl and butterdish (both of which have lids — hey, we’re not immaculate, but we’re not stupid), the coffee and filter cannisters, and anything else that the human residents had left sitting out.

(Insert clichéd maternal nagging to family about not cleaning up after snack-making.)

The other afternoon when I was doing the washing-up, I stood there and observed their peregrinations until I was able to finally pinpoint the ingress spot. Underneath the window ledge was a slightly chipped spot in the grout, and I waited to observe two ants disappear into the hole and not re-appear (which would have indicated a dead-end). Ah-HA! So yesterday I tracked down the remainder of the tube of tub caulk and clotted up the hole. I swabbed up the remaining immigrants (after photographing them). The good news is that no more ants have appeared today, which likely means that there’s not another hole. Maybe I’ve licked the problem once and for all.

Or, at least until another weak point develops in the grout.

* These could be Monomorium minimum or some species of Crematogaster, but they were running around too fast to get a really good macro shot to tell which. I want a microscope of my own!

Bugs in the System

I’m exhausted and permanently chilled, dunno why; hopefully I’m not coming down with some “bug”. But here are some great images from around the Web:

Bug Dreams has a fabulous closeup-shot, partially described as, “A Sawfly larva dwarfs an adult fly in this demonstration of a Vulcan mind meld.”

I can haz LOL Invertebrates? The ROFLBee makes me smile every time!

The Royal Mail has just put out a new series of ten stamps, with gorgeous insects on them.  One of the purchases even entitles you to 2-for-1 tickets to the upcoming butterfly exhibit at the Natural History Museum in London. (Please, someone go and enjoy it for me, because I can’t afford to go abroad, so even mere philately is beyond my means.)

Meanwhile, here’s a recent shot from my garden, a multicolored Asian Lady Beetle (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae Harmonia axyridis).  This is an exotic species introduced in the 1970s for biological control of aphids and scale.  That must be hard work, as this one appears to be sleeping on my bag.

ZzzzZzzzzz

Happy [ahem] Equinox!

(originally titled “Happy Solstice!” in a stupid moment. I blame the lack of caffeine; that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.)

Spring has sprung, at least in my part of the northern hemisphere. To celebrate the vernal equinox yesterday, I was out in the garden. I’ve been doing bits of garden cleanup on days when there have not been showers. Or hasn’t been snowing. Or drizzling. Or sleeting. Or sprinkling. Or frozen solid. Or pouring rain. Or thundersnowing …

No arthropods found yet, aside from some pillbugs, also called sowbugs, woodlice, roly-polys or ballbugs. People call them pillbugs because when bothered, they roll up into little pill-size balls. But they aren’t really bugs, nor even insects. Insects have 3 pairs of legs, and these have 7; with this many legs and flattened dorsal-ventrally (back to front) they are Isopods, a few of which are terrestrial crustaceans. (I think these are probably Cylisticus convexus.)

These weren’t even out and about; I uncovered them when I slipped and skidded on a rock that rolled over in the heavily-saturated ground. As crustaceans go, they are small; the largest is about 1 centimeter long. They look a bit like beans in plate armor, and are generally detritivores or eat the fungi that grow on wood. Once in a while they can get out of hand and bother garden plants.

Lots of school children (myself included) make temporary pets of them because they’re fairly hardy critters. You can hide a few in your pocket during recess, and then play with them at your desk instead of doing boring worksheets.

several small pillbugs (roly-polys) on a piece of limestone

And did I mention it’s been raining? I did find another Minuscule vid I hadn’t seen before, with our hapless friend the little fuzzy black spider. It’s been raining there, too…

Leaks

Last ngiht I had an absolutely BRILL idea for a blog post. Even came up with a catchy title. Thought it would be a good way to remember it. Didn’t write it down, owing to having finally warmed up my spot on the bed and it being past midnight, so I didn’t want to climb out of bed and grope around in the cold and dark for writing materials.

And, then of course the next morning I couldn’t remember it. Still by evening I can’t remember it. The idea seems to have leaked out my ears during the night. So it goes. Maybe it’ll come back to me — this time, I’ve a pencil and paper at bedside.

Meanwhile, here’s a lovely little Minuscule vid that I’d not seen before. It’s part of an animation series done in France, short little stories with natural scenery and computer-modeled invertebrates (insects, spiders and snails). The funny stories have no dialog, just some light background music and humorous sound effects. (No captions needed.) The physics are just spot-on, too, with only slight exaggerations for effect.

This one has a fuzzy black house spider that has taken up residence in the kitchen of a country house. Alas, the sink drips, drips, drips. The sound clips we get from the spider’s perspective sound horribly loud … maybe it has hyperacussis.

Anyway, enjoy the story as our protagonist seeks to create some “Silence”:

Incoming!

Insert mental file of an airplane engine failing (sputter, sputter, cough) and then the screaming whistle of the plane as it falls through the sky to impact the ground with a big CRASH! Wings are crumpled and broken, frame is bent out of shape, parts litter the landscape.

Now shrink the scale by a few powers of ten, and you get this series of pictures: “Microscopic photos of smashed gnats”. Awesome macrophotography, and right humorous if you’ve an odd sense of whimsy.

(perfectly safe for work, aside from the off-topic subject)

Circus of the Spineless #29: Making A Living

It’s tough making a living, whether you’re finding a nursery for the young’uns, molting, trying to get a mate, or avoiding ending up as someone’s dinner. Part of the fascination with the invertebrates is just how many “weird” and surprising ways there are to solve the basic problems of life. Plus, we also like them just because they’re so damn gorgeous! This batch of posts has some terrific photography.

Ants may be industrious, but by all accounts they may be easily outwitted. On Not Exactly Rocket Science, Ed Yong has the great tale of “Evolutionary arms race turns ants into babysitters for Alcon blue butterflies”, giving the story of how the larvae of the beautiful Alcon Blue butterfly are really just a bunch of slackers — these brood parasites make ants fawn over them at the expense of the ants’ own larvae. Meanwhile, GrrlScientist is Living the Scientific Life where she describes, “Berry Butts: Parasitized Black Ants Resemble Red Berries”. More weird parasitism: “an amazing example of a parasite that causes its host to resemble a luscious red berry — all so the parasite’s eggs are passed onto birds, the next step in the parasite’s life cycle.” The ants continue their march (one by one) across the Interwebs, and at his Myrmecos Blog, Alex describes how we can find “Ants from a Kilometer Up” by using Google Earth to find their mounds. (Gee, if you make it that easy, won’t the grad students waste their time doing silly things like catching up on sleep?)

So what do Superman, strippers and training wheels have to do with arthropods? Read the rest of this entry »

Metamorphosis

There are lots of changes going on over here, especially on the job scene. Change is a bumpy process; sometimes it makes me uneasy about unknowns, often eager for new things, and frequently ambivalent from both.

Over in the tarantularium, I noticed that one of the crickets was also going through some changes. The plastic wall of the box is the reason for the slightly blurry quality of the photograph. There’s really no excuse for all the bad puns and silly jokes about Superman, strippers, training wheels on bicycles et cetera, except for the otherwise dryness of the subject and the stressed busyness of my recent days. Read the rest of this entry »

Time to Bug You All

The next Circus of the Spineless will be hosted HERE at the end of the month!  Deadline for submissions for CotS #29 is the 29th.

The Circus of the Spineless is “A monthly celebration of Insects, Arachnids, Molluscs, Crustaceans, Worms and most anything else that wiggles”.  So if you have a story, and especially if you have pictures, please join in the fun!

So far I have a whopping 2 submissions (I know, I know, “salvation by deadline” and all that), and they are both about ants.  Are the rest of you invertebrate fanciers going to let the Formicidae rule all?  (You know how those social insects are…)

You can post your links here in the comments, or via the CotS page linked above.

andrea

My Favourite Oxymorons (and other “woo”)

And now for something light, because it’s been heavy blogging lately, and there’s more around the corner.

Once Upon A TIme I used to be a newspaper proofreader. And once a proofreader, always a pain in the ass, because I pay attention to the wording of the things I read (and hear). Here are some things that drive me abso-bloomin-lutely-nutz, from the realms of horticulture, entomology, and the exciting intersection, er, catastrophic collision of science and marketing. Disclaimer: these are all my own unbiased opinions.

Some years ago, a student came in and said that she wanted a “carefree garden”, one that bloomed all the time and required virtually no care. I blinked a few times in disbelief and could only reply, “Plastic?”

There’s always good, clean dirt. Although a person can have fumigated soil or “sterile” seedling media (that’s nursery-sterile, not surgically sterile, meaning free of pests and pathogens), but dirt by definition is what gets tracked across the kitchen floor, lodged under your fingernails, or ground into the knees of your pants. “Detoxifying mud bath” should join that for all-around absurdity.

Then there’s trying to explain to my students Read the rest of this entry »

Cultivate Your Inner Mantis

Every parent of a child with special needs has had Very Bad Days. Hell, every partner, sibling, good friend, and housemate has had those days. But there’s something especially protective about the way parents are on behalf of their children (blood relations or not; there’s more to parenting than DNA). Maddy just had one of Those Very Bad Days. This post is dedicated to her, and to everyone else who has been such situations. You don’t mess with mama bears. Or any species of protective parents. Even if we parents are stunned by the utter meanness, stupidity, lack of consideration, or bureaucratic idiocy, that doesn’t mean that we don’t have those flashes of utter savagery flick through our hearts.

The difference being that usually we think before we speak. Or, that we suffer badly from l’Esprit de l’escalier and the appropriately witty or remonstrative remark doesn’t occur until the moment has long passed. Or, all we can do is stand there and sputter.

So here is Mildred the Mantid. She was mother to more than I could count and an amazing hunter with ninja-like reflexes and deadly skills. And before you make any comments, the whole story about female praying mantids biting the heads off their mates is somewhat apocryphal, and quite likely an artifact of being stuck in a small laboratory cage with nowhere to dash off.

However, having watched Mildred dispatch a number of dinners, I can tell you that she would start her meals by first biting off the head of her victim, quickly and neatly dispatching whatever had wandered too close. Brains are relatively fatty, so are good calories in a world of lean, crunchy critters. Then she would leisurely rip off the wings, because there’s no good eatin’ in insect wings. Ditto the ends of the legs. And when finished, she would daintily begin to groom herself, much in the same manner that a cat does, brushing off her antennae, and nibbling down each of her six limbs from the thorax all the way down to the tarsi. Then she would flick her wings back into a comfortable position, and compose herself to waiting there quietly, all over again. Even when she was “very preggers”, all large and ungainly from being egg-heavy (photo on right) Mildred was a predatory force to be reckoned with.

Don’t Mess With Mom.

Don’t go saying dumb-ass, idiotic, rude, uncaring, insensitive, presumptive, judgmental things about our children …

… because then we have the lovely image of the fabulously wicked female mantis, who after sitting perched in her pose of Absolutely Shocked bug-eyed stillness, will — in a flash — reach out with her raptorial forelegs to grab the intruder and BITE THE HEAD OFF.

There. Much better now.

 

Why this Behavioural Observer isn’t a Behaviourist

I’ve spent hours observing and recording the actions and reactions of insects and humans. I’m a behavioural observer, but I don’t consider myself to be a Behaviourist. Despite the usefulness of Behaviourism for training animals (including humans) to perform particular tasks, I find that school of thought to be too limiting for understanding and helping people.

Some years ago when I was taking my MSc in entomology, I studied insect behaviour. One of the professors introduced us to Miller & Strickler’s “rolling fulcrum” model* for how insects respond. Essentially this idea states that there are internal factors (of varying strengths) that affect how much an insect responds to of excitatory or inhibitory stimuli. The example given was that even if you smell something really appetising, if you’re not hungry then you’re not going to eat it. It was presented as something profound, but my internal response was along the lines of, “Duh!” (My external response was to continue doodling triangular pursuit curves on the margins of my lecture notes.)

In other words, Read the rest of this entry »

Just Bugging You

Circus of the Spineless #27 is going on over at The Hawk Owl’s Nest! Patrick got all hexalogistic and limited himself to describing each post in only six words, which is quite a neat trick.

Trials and tribulations of take-out

Imagine that you spend your day in an office cubicle. And you know that sometime, likely after you’ve been hungry for a while and wondering where that distracted secretary has got to, you will eventually get that take-away meal you were promised. It’s never on time and they always get the same thing, but there’s always plenty to eat, with leftovers to nosh on the next couple of days.

So there you are, peacefully focused on business, when alla-sudden you are bombarded by a dozen sack lunches raining down on you and your cubicle!

That’s what happened to Rosie. Again.

As soon as I popped open the access-hatch on the top of her habitat, she scuttled hurridly over to a side wall and clung from an upper corner. I don’t think it anthropormorphising too much to say that she was alarmed, for I was hurridly dropping in over a dozen large crickets, along with their block of artificial diet and packaging. Then my giant hand scrabbled around inside to retrieve the piece of cardboard egg carton and shake off the crickets still clinging to it. That bit of packaging gives them something to hang on to during shipping and handling, but it would simply clutter up Rosie’s room.

Escapees are always a possibility, and annoying to both capture and return, so I hurridly snapped the access-hatch shut. The crickets are discombobulated from being dumped out of their shipping container and bouncing around everywhere, with a couple of them landing in the white sake cup that is her water dish. Only after the hatch has been shut and the crickets settled down does Rosie go to check out the latest “manna from heaven”.

It’s not easy being a pet-store cricket — they go from a life that revolves around food and (once matured) around sex, to being dumped someplace strange with a predator. As things stand right now, the block of artificial diet has tumbled to one end of the habitat, and the rock the crickets are hanging on is at the other end. Rosie snags a few nearby crickets, tip-toes around her habitat to see if there are any other changes (photo), and then retires to digest by parking in her little flowerpot.

I realise that I need to find a better way of transferring the crickets, as the whole process seems alarming to all the arthropods involved, and is nerve-wracking for me as well due to the risk of escapees.

For the arachnophobic, I put the picture “below the fold”.

Read the rest of this entry »

An unusual house guest

I had hoped to get some garden clean-up done this weekend, but it snowed a bit:

Given the winter weather, you might wonder how I could be doing another insect story, but right now I’m hosting an extra house guest. Read the rest of this entry »

Movers and Fakers

It’s been a while since I’ve posted any insect photos. But it’s autumn, which means that the Monarchs Are On The Move. A couple of weeks ago I came home and was walking up to the front door when I passed the pair of butterfly bushes (Buddleia davidii) and noticed a rather runty-looking Monarch nectaring.

Then I did a double-take, and thought to myself, “That’s not a Monarch — THAT’S A VICEROY!” (This was one of those odd times when I mentally caption dialog, even the all-caps.) I dashed back to my car to grab my camera, as I didn’t have a photograph of this particular butterfly yet.

The Viceroy (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae Basilarchia archippus) looks very similar to the Monarch: it’s an orange butterfly with a black body, black margins the wings, and a few white spots in the margins. However, its wingspan is smaller (about 3 inches / 80 mm), and the hindwings have a thin stripe running parallel to the outer margin.

For comparison, here’s a photo Read the rest of this entry »

Things that bug me

No cheese with this whine, please; I’m out of crackers. It’s HOT — we went from 24°C/75°F weather in the mountains to 40°C/104°F weather back home. It’s humid, too. Weeds grew outrageously in my absence, but I’ve no energy for tackling them when I get home from work. Nor do I have any energy to cook dinner, and no one has any ideas on what they want to eat, either. I need to buy groceries, but don’t know what to get beyond the inevitable milk & toilet paper. The heat saps our appetites. The heat has melted all of my blogging ideas from my brain, and staring at the snippits in my drafts folder doesn’t jog anything.

Boy starts classes tomorrow, and at my school, the students return. I have no idea why it is that Read the rest of this entry »

Go hunt down

the invertebrates at the latest Circus of the Spineless.  It’s a crunchy feast for the eyes! Our intrepid host, Roger, is posting from super-soggy South Yorkshire where they’ve been having the worst floods in living memory …

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