Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Foto Fling

and Happy Flehmen Response Friday!*

Ridiculously beautiful day at Mono Lake. Kinda stormy.

Driving home. Road trips are ROUGH when there's nothing to look at... =)

View during (brief) traffic stop at Yosemite. Again, hard to bear. =)
Note debris on road at right. Brief, intense rainstorm washed stuff onto the road, hence road work.

Finally landed on a term for dahlias: absurdly beautiful.

iPhoto plot: it opened onto May 22, 2014 & I saw this guy. HAD to re-post. Cute little hopper!
 LOVE those eyes...

I added mulch one day and I SWEAR the NEXT DAY everyone looked happier.
Gaillardia infront of chrysanthemum. 

Perusing lovely images of gardens (& listening to gardening podcasts)
it occurs to me that many people don't have the
gophers, rabbits, deer, bears, etc. that we have.

Their plants are just OUT THERE, and all's well.
Can't. Even. Imagine.

Here's the deer's eye view of our dahlias:
Looks like flower prison. For the criminally gorgeous. And tasty.

Moby trying to figure out how to GET to those tomato plants.

Nevertheless, I still enjoy gardening; miracles abound.

Soaked these pups 1.5 days, and they had ALREADY started to germinate.

Which may be why this happened 5 days later:
=) Hard to see, as I MUST disguise baby bean plants so birds don't get them all. 

Next day:
SO amazingly fast. SUPER gratifying.
They're scarlet runner beans, so when they mature,
not only will they be beautiful and shade-making,
but also I'll finally have something for the hummingbirds. Hooray!

Have a fabulous weekend, cherished peeps.


*To perk up your Friday, just google image search Flehmen response.
It's PG rated, a real biological thing, and SUPER entertaining. =) Plus, tapirs!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

An embarrassment of riches

 I was SUPER excited to find this ambush bug (possibly Pacific ambush bug, Phymata pacifica)
in my mint this week. 
Actually, the above photo should be rotated 180 degrees
to indicate its actual position ...

Looks like its beak is going straight for the neck. Look elsewhere for mercy.

Common buckeye. LOVE these guys.
So beautiful, but subtle, so from a distance they just look brown.

This dahlia makes me think about math: fractals, specifically.

Wee moth sipping mint plant nectar; I bet it's extra refreshing. =)
According to Dan Rubinoff, my mothy friend, it's in the pyralid family
which succinctly describes as "cosmopolitan." =)

Ridiculously glorious dahlia bloom: but wait, there's more!

If you look very closely, the petals have cinnamon sparkles in them (near the lower edge).
An embarrassment of riches, to be sure.

This tachinid fly (tribe Cylindromyiini?) worked this flower
moving its buns in swoopy circles,
very much like how phalaropes feed.

Trying to figure out what this wasp is (still not sure, maybe a sand wasp?),
I kept repeating, while flipping through field guides,
Because, I'm a professional biologist. =) 

Dahlia bunk bed for bumblebees (Bombus sp.).

Close up of how top bee has feet hooked onto petal edge.


While I enjoy all of these flowers & animals,
and I have more to ID and post later, 
 I'm EXTRA stoked my garden has an ambush bug--that was a first! =)


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Summer's bounty--flowers & bugs, living fast & hard


Time for county fairs and beautiful nights...

and for plants to leap skyward,

providing room and board for the myriad bugs that live among them.
Turquoise-eyed flies (probably related to horseflies)
none of which I noticed when I took the photo. Flies 4, bb 0. =)

In a quest to improve my attitude about summer
(it gets bloody hot here & I'm the first to drop)
I'm shining a light on summer-associated goodies that I adore.

Tiny plume moth. I've NEVER seen one before last week. SO exciting.
 ID thanks to Chris Grinter (@skepticalmoth). That body is less than a centimeter long.

A small ant (lower left) to provide scale for this wee, tiny moth.

Spotted assassin bug (Rhynocoris ventralis) on gaillardia.
First time I think I've seen this particular, dashing predator.
Nicely color coordinated with the gaillardia, eh?

Tarnished plant bug (Lygus hesperus).
A tiny little charmer.

A day later, the same species played peek-a-boo with me
Here you get a better idea of how tiny it is. =)

Crab spider dining upon an earwig, underneath a chrysanthemum bloom.

So many mysterious (and frequently tiny) creatures
to find and try to name.

An assassin bug (that I cannot ID, so far) dining on an unlucky bee or fly of some sort.

An ever-changing populace of
invertebrates in the garden. 

Ants, seemingly obsessed with carrot flowers.

For the plants
the plant pollinators,
the plant eaters,
and plant-associated-bug predators,
summer is no joke.

Lovely, little lynx spider female living on a mint plant.
She's so spiky.

Live life now,
for tomorrow is never guaranteed.

Which reminds me of two views I gained from the Ferris wheel:

the quick,

and the dead. 

It's always good to have a reminder.

Nature will do that for you.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

TINY mothies: apparently I've been DYING to see them & I DID!!!

I've REALLY wanted to see 
a really small moth ever since I learned about them
from Chris Grinter (@skepticalmoth).

Last night I DID spy tiny moths & got some photos.
Dark thing in lower left corner is a small ant, for scale...

Nectaring on a gaillardia...

Same moth, with flash... sparkly!
Only took a few shots w/automatic flash--seemed to upset the poor creature.
Paparazzi--SO gauche.

Here's a different (slightly larger) individual w/in (my) reach of the 1st.
That body plan confounds me.

Chris thinks these are probably plume moths, from the family Pterophoridae

He is ALL about these tiny little animals,
plus lots of other fabulous inverts, has a great blog,
and takes SUCH great photos, you may want to slap him.

Here's just one example of the
amazing images he shares of microleps
(what the pros call the TINY lepidopterans).

Meanwhile, back on the ranch...

The wings!!

Flying tiny apparently poses different challenges,
hence microleps are known for narrower, feathery wings
versus the big, dusty plates of their larger brethren.

Like feathery oars...

If I remember correctly, when you're REALLY small,
the air is relatively more viscous (thicker),
so different structures work better to move your tiny bod.

When they fly, you just see a wee blur,
drifting past, like plankton.
And you think, "What the heck was that?!?"

Legs, legs, legs.
So spiky.

I'm guessing all those spikes help them hang on,
and not get blown away by the tiniest breeze?
Although the other one's legs aren't nearly so spiky.

Can you tell I'm fascinated?

So, didn't get to sleep until LATE (for me) 'cause I was SO pumped about this. =)

I've been SO richly rewarded for the pollinator-attracting seed mix I planted years ago.
I HIGHLY recommend it. Best part of summer, IMHO.

Well, that and perfectly ripe peaches.


xoxoxoxo bb