August 28th, 2016

dandelion

Neither beast nor fowl

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I'm sure I've written about his before, but my first encounter with a hummingbird moth was magical and disorienting. I was a child very much into insects, mostly the crawling kind easy to find under logs and rocks. The scaly-winged order--the moths and butterflies, were sometimes pretty, usually drab, and took to flight before a young naturalist could closely examine them. Then this being appeared--a chimera that flies like a hummingbird, has the face of a moth, and bears the ruddered tail of a swimming crustacean. (The individual pictured here has a worn and damaged tail).

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This is the hummingbird clearwing (Hemaris thysbe)--the wings are clear and without scales like a wasp or a fly. Colorful scales might slow down the buzzing wings, or detract from the wasp-like illusion that gives some predators pause.
dandelion

The tiniest dampness

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This summer has been unusually dry--we've had something like 2 inches of rain the entire summer (we average over 3 inches per month). As a mushroom guy, I've found it quite depressing. One day I woke up and the yard was a bit damp. I quickly moved from place to place to try to find live revived by the moisture. This may be Mycena corticola.

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The north facing side of the shingle roof of our shed is thickly decorated with British soldier lichen.

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A nearly hexagonal raft of infinitesimal bubbles on our bird bath.

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Ants in general don't seem to be suffering in the drought, at least it seems many species are doing fine.
dandelion

Weird happenings on a elm tree in a behind the scenes part of the zoo

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I was called up to see a tree up in a non-public part of the zoo, which (the thought was) might have a hornet's nest in it. A hornet's nest in a tree is pretty obvious--either it's a big gray paper football, or it's hidden in a big dead cavity in the tree. This was a pretty small elm, with no big holes, no big paper nests, but plenty of wasps and hornets on and around it. However, there were other insects involved as well, such as this Calliphorid carrion fly.

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