Monday, December 31, 2007

Last one this year

This was on my front door this morning. No more front porch moths till "next year."
Jerry did something to my camera. I'm not really sure what, but I think it made it easier to focus up close. Too bad it's harder to find many bugs at this time of year.

One thing there is lots of is monarch caterpillars at the arboretum. I will be trying to take some interesting close up shots of them this season.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Not to be overlooked

I found these miscellaneous bug pictures while going through and trying to clean up my photo files. Not exactly a blog catchup, but more of a "treasure in the junk-drawer" moment.

Mystery larva from Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens

Nice pollen bags.

Dogpile of milkweed bugs.

Spider's lunch time.

I picked out a bunch of other miscellaneous, mostly plant-related pictures and put them on my Flickr page, if you want to see them.

Low tide and long shadows

On Sunday, we went to the beach. There was a minus tide. Wandering along the shore during a minus tide ranks right up there with bug-hunting as one of my favorite activities. Unfortunately, I'm just not limber and agile enough these days to climb around on the rocks like I would have liked to. So mostly I just walked along the nice, flat sandy shore.

I mainly wanted to find some nice shells and rocks, which I have posted here. I wasn't really looking for bugs, but I found some anyway.

I noticed this butterfly at the bottom of the trail. It was incredibly tiny. I later found out it's a Westerm Pygmy Blue, the smallest butterfly in North America.

This small tidepool snail had a nice pinkish-purplish crust of some sort.

I found this bee struggling desperately at the edge of the surf. I rescued her, but quickly realized there was little chance of her surviving the chilly night to come, much less returning to her hive, so I euthanized her quickly under my shoe.

This ladybug stood out against the drab gray shrub. It looks like there might have been something edible, like a scale or something, on the plant.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas, Cap'n

Yes, I still have my snail. He's been doing really well. His shell continues to grow and develop its pattern, even in what were once the lumpy places. Not only that, but I think he's about double the size he was when I first found him.

This little area is the only part that is still bumpy and "unfinished"

Here he is cruising around on my lawn. I had the idea of releasing him on Christmas Day, but I'm not really sure where I want to let him go yet.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Incidental fly

I was taking pictures of the new leaves sprouting on this ocotillo plant, and didn't even notice this little fly until after I took the picture.

Abandoned beehive

About a year ago, I first saw this beehive. Sadly the bees left, sometime in summer I think. The hive was nearly invisible beneath the canopy of leaves. Now that the leaves have fallen, the condition of the hive has been revealed.

The reprimand

The monarch caterpillar population at the arboretum is growing this month. There's still a pretty good amount of milkweed leaves for them, but sometimes there will be 2 or more in very close proximity. I made a little video clip of a larger caterpillar "picking" on a smaller one who's perched on a leaf the bigger one is trying to eat.

Friday, November 30, 2007

2 mantid abdomen tips compared

(Photos have been "fixed" so you can click and enlarge.)

I took these pictures last week, but I've been sitting on them, because I didn't feel like organizing them. So here. Two females.

(L to R) Stagmomantis californica and Iris oratoria

Same mantids viewed from above.

S. californica ventral view

I. oratoria ventral, showing distinctive abdomen spot (and bonus cute face!)

OK, here's californica's cute face, too.

...and her claws

...and her pretty wings. They made me think of stained glass, so I played with them in Photoshop. You can see the result here.

One more cute iris face.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Ah, nothing like bugs getting into the holiday spirit.

Ugly Overload: Santapede

An orb-web for you

(...and you know who you are)

This was taken in the long-neglected no-man's land of my mother in law's back yard a few years ago. Click on the photo to see it bigger.

Monday, November 26, 2007

8 things about me

Inquiring minds may or may not want to know.

In my 3 years of blogging, I’ve read many a meme, but never been tagged, until today (Thanks, Julie)

Initially, I set out to list 8 happy things about myself. 2 things came to mind quickly:

Happily married for 28 years.

Happy to answer bug questions from friends.

Then I got kind of stuck. Happy things? Hmmm. I looked at Julie’s 8 things, and then I went back to the person that tagged her, and the person who tagged her, (and back a few more iterations) and came to find out that originally this meme was for 8 random things, not happy things.

Well, that made it easier, not needing to limit myself to happy things. So here are 6 random things.

I was born with congenital hip dysplasia, which required me to wear a cumbersome cast as an infant. I was delayed in learning to walk because of it.

I am without a religious faith, neutral if you will, the child of non-practicing Jews, married to a non-practicing Catholic. But I still have a spiritual side. My church is the world, my worship is music, art, nature.

I went on a date with my best friend’s boyfriend once, while she was away on a school trip. He took me for a ride in a helicopter.

I tend to be more sympathetic to animals than I am to people.

I maintain an uneasy relationship with most technology. I managed to make it through the last couple of decades without ever learning how to program a VCR. I always had either my husband or my sons to do it for me. Now we are firmly entrenched in the age of DVD’s, and I don’t know how to work them either.

I feel nostalgic for the 70’s, when I was young and energetic, and life was so much simpler. Only now do I realize how badly I squandered those years.

Now, according to the official rules of the meme, I’m supposed to tag 8 other people. And that’s where I hit another snag. For one thing, I would be hard-pressed to find 8 bloggers who haven’t already been hit up for a meme or 3 already. (I don’t even want to mention that a mere 6 people responded to my recent spider poll...) Then, there’s my general reluctance to perpetuate any kind of “chain-letter” project. What a party pooper I am.

What I will do is invite all who would like to participate to consider yourself tagged.

The rules are simple, if you choose to play by the rules. List 8 random (and/or happy) things about yourself. Tag 8 other people to do the same. Or not.

Oh, and please mention my name. I could use a little publicity.

Hello. Goodbye.

She emerged last night. I didn't know they could do that. Perhaps because I had her indoors and the temperature was warm and stable.

As she curled and uncurled her proboscis, there were also two little "mini-antennas" that also curled and uncurled. Not sure what those were all about. Her regular antennas are hanging down the back of her head.

In the light of day.

Pristine and plush

She had a couple of false starts, fluttering to the grass. I took her up again and offered her an orange. She sat there for over an hour while I did errands. When I released her again, she made her way over the fence and beyond the neighbor's yard, until I lost sight of her.

And she was flying in the general direction of the arboretum.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Well, this just shows how much I (don't) know

I thought the chrysalis looked ready a couple of days ago. But look at it today:

It has to be close now. Just look at the wing. And the eye. And I bet I know when it will emerge. Sometime between 9:00 and 11:00 tomorrow morning. Why? Because I won't be home to see it, of course.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Spider Poll results

Well, my poll closed last night and the results, such as they are, indicate that more people have been seeing fewer orb-web spiders.

More than usual
1 (16%)

About average
1 (16%)

Less than usual
4 (66%)

This was from 6 responders. The few. The loyal. The esoteric.

Thank you for participating. And have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cap'n Crunch earns his stripes

Here he is today, 2 weeks into his healing process.

The back view is still lumpy, bumpy and stripeless. Hopefully it will continue to improve. Also, you may notice there is an eensy little "crunch" to the leading edge of his new shell. Not sure how that happened, exactly, but hopefully it won't set him back too far. He has been using this little tiny plastic flowerpot as a house, but sometimes he wants to wedge himself between the pot and the inside of his container, so I guess I'm going to have to take it out, just to be safe.

I have set up a label for all the Cap'n Crunch posts, so they will be easy to find as a group.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Big head, big butt, wide arms

My remaining wide-arm mantid finally shed her skin this week, about 2 months since the last time. That's a long time. And I think she tripled in size. Still a translucent pale turquoise, she is now a subadult, and her features have become more exaggerated. Next shed she will be an adult, and even more awesome. But for now, well, just take a look.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

My snail is healing!

Those of you who have been following the progress of Cap'n Crunch will be pleased to know that he is showing definite healing progress.

The first two pictures were taken on Tuesday, exactly one week after I found him. He has the beginning of a new shell already. It is dry and hard. Well, maybe hard isn't an accurate word, because I'm sure it's still very thin and brittle. But it's there.

Two days later, this morning, you can already see more changes. The color, brown stripes are becoming more visible. This shot of the back of the snail shows some of the shattered pieces of the original shell that have knit together. There is nothing loose and wiggly any more. Even the last little piece of loose shell that was flipped over backwards seems to have affixed itself to the new shell. Compare these shots to the day I found him, and you can see the difference.

I ended up releasing the companion snail after only a few days. I was worried that it might climb over Cap'n and aggravate his injuries. Also, I wanted to be certain that Cap'n was eating and pooping OK, and I could only be sure about this if he was the only snail in there. (And yes, he's doing both.)
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