Thursday, June 22, 2006


My #2 ET stickbug has now surpassed the stage at which the first stickbug died. He just recently shed for the second time, and he is eating well and doing fine.

Please excuse the huge pink fingers. It was too hard for me to take a good picture of him on the leaves.

Also, even though I'm calling it a "him", I really don't know what gender he is. I have a tendency to call things "him" by default. (This includes such non-living things as balloons and rocks!) If anybody looks at these pictures and can verify the gender, please leave a comment.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Tiny toads going to new homes

Of the 3 tiny toads I collected recently, I gave 2 to Mrs. W. as an end-of-school present. She has been wanting toads for a while. The third toad, and that last holdover/hideaway froggie, are going tomorrow to my friend Seon's house. She has a really nice yard with a pond.

I wasn't able to get a picture of all 3 of the toadies together, because they just wouldn't hold still for me. But here's 2 of them from the other day. Little cuties.

Some strange critters

You've probably seen surreally-Photoshopped images before. Well, here's some that I got in my email this morning from a friend.

My favorite is this beetle with the walnut in its shell.

Most of the images are from If you enjoy these kinds of things, check it out.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Mantis Monday for 6-19-06

Robotic transforming mantis.

I don't remember what it transforms into. Some fighting robot, no doubt. I remember the transformation process is difficult, at least for me, and sometimes the little purple legs would pop off. It looks much cooler as a mantis anyway.

Oh, and the front legs each held a disc-shaped "weapon" that could be launched by pressing a little button. One such weapon has long since been launched into oblivion. The other one is around here someplace.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Bird nest: Ready to fly!

Remember the baby birds in the orange juice box? They're already fledged and some of them left the nest today.

The daddy bird was trying to encourage the babies to leave the nest. I had to take this picture from inside the house, through the sliding door. Any closer, and he would have flown away.

Almost ready to go. You can see 3 birdies, but their 4 siblings are under there, too. It's just that if I got too close, they would try to hide. How do you hide 7 birdies in a little box?

Standing room only. I took this from inside the slider again. The little guy on the ledge flew away with Dad a few minutes later. A couple of the others flew away after that. A few remained in the nest tonight. I suppose they will be gone by morning.

First June Bug of the year

Photographed under the Martian-like glow of my porch light.

OK. Summer can officially start now.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Mantis Monday for 6-12-06

I do have a few duplications in my collection. Maybe not totally identical, but close enough that I wouldn't feel right counting them as two different items. This is why I fear I may not have enough mantis collectibles to make it through an entire year of Mondays. I might be able to stretch it by posting each of them separately, but I feel that would be like showing "re-runs". So I'll post them as one, and keep my fingers crossed.

Included in this category are these two nice little decorative mantids. I bought the greener one for myself at a nature store. Then, a few years later, someone (my dad?) found the brown one and got it for me, not knowing I already had the green one. No matter, I like both of them.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A wasp

An especially nice wasp I saw at the arboretum today. It even sat still so I could take a picture!

More bad news, hoping for a happy ending.

I was already bummed over the loss of Stanley, and it didn't help that my little yellow frog was still not eating, and getting thinner and thinner. I could not bear to watch him suffer and die, so I released him into my front yard. I only hope being free will stimulate his appetite and he will feed on the abundant bugs of summer. Even if he is terminal, I would still feel better knowing he is free for the rest of his days.

The untimely demise of Stanley

I am bummed to report that Stanley, my little western banded gecko, has died, from an apparent sand impaction. I'm just kicking myself about this. I've read about the risk of impaction, but I thought that this wild-caught lizard, in a cage set-up with sand from his own native environment, would not have a problem. And he did fine for several weeks. He had grown quite a bit, and he appeared to be thriving. Bummer.

I'll miss you, Stanley. You were a good lizard.

Tadpole diary, the final chapter (?)

Over the weekend, I released several of the frogs that we had raised from eggs this spring. Mrs. W. wants to keep hers, of course. She still has frogs from the tadpoles we raised about 7 or 8 years ago! This season, we had about 2 dozen tadpoles. I think about 6 of them died (at the hands of another, less experienced teacher. ) I took the frogs I raised here, and some from a third teacher, including a few sluggish tadpoles who still hadn't finished their metamorphosis, and I released them in the creek by the hospital.

Here's a few parting shots:

But then, at the creek, I noticed there were some tiny baby toads at the water's edge. I love toads, and I couldn't resist taking a few home! (only 3)

Aww, how cute is this?

I'm going to give one to Mrs. W., and one to my friend, Seon. I will keep one, for a little while.

Oh, and I guess I mis-counted when I was gathering all the froggies together for their release. When I came home, I found one little hideaway that I had missed, so I will keep him for now as well.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Mantis Monday for 6-05-06

My first mantis T shirt was one of my own creation, back in the early 90's, when "puff-paint" was popular.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Orange sunflower with caterpillar

I have been seeing lots of these little inch-worms lately. They are often found in the center of flowers. I'm guessing the pollen has lots of protein for them. Anyway, as cute as they are, with their bright colors and chevron stripes, they are hard to take pictures of because they're so small and their heads are always deep inside the flower. I made 5 attempts today, and decided I really like this one, purely from a color and texture standpoint. Too bad you can't see the caterpillars head, though.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Bird nest

Our patio cover makes for some pretty tempting nesting areas for house finches. Every spring since we had it built a few years ago, the birds have come. The only problem is that the little protected "shelf" created by the patio cover has nowhere to actually put the nesting material in where it will be secure. Last year I stuck a little basket up there, and they raised 3 clutches, but it left behind a terrible, poopy mess that Jerry was not thrilled with. This year, I was not going to give them any help, but they still came and kept trying to put their nests on the flat unprotected shelf. So I gave in and made a box. I'm hoping the ingenious design will minimize the poop factor, and make it easy to throw the whole thing away when they're done with it.

Juice carton nest box with "poop-guard" on back and sides.

I ventured precariously onto a stepladder with a mirror in one hand and my camera in the other. In a state of near panic with both arms raised high over my head and no way to steady myself, I was rewarded and amazed to count 7 baby finches! By some miracle, I was able to get a picture of their reflection, before shakily easing myself down.

About a week or so after the birds took over this juice carton, there was another pair who seemed very determined to build a nest of their own, so I made another juice box and put it several feet away. There are 5 eggs in there.
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