Thursday, July 31, 2014

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Super Exuvia! (plus wildfire cloud sexiness)

It flies through the air
with the greatest of ease,
that daring young exuvia
on the flying trapeze.*

Found this near the bottom of a dahlia, suspeded somewhat invisibly.
Pretty sure it's the exuvia of YET another bordered plant bug.

I say "yet another" 'cause just before dark, the day before, across the garden, I found:
eep! I'd NEVER seen this sort of thing happen in person. SO COOL.

Obviously some kind of beaked bug shedding its old exoskeleton.
However, bug colors can change as they dry out & inflate wings, etc.

40 minutes later:
Beauty, eh?

Pardon plant cage wire, but it was basically dark,
I couldn't really see and I didn't think to engage auto focus,
so this is the ONLY shot I took that was clear.

Next morning I rooted around the VERY same dahlia plant and found:

A VERY fresh looking bordered plant bug, Largus spp.
I'm guessing it's the same individual, just all dried and hardened,
and maybe L. californicus 'cause we're in California & it looks right. =)


Looking at Largus images on bugguide
I ran across images of the nymphs,
which I'm convinced are the TINY, shiny bugs
that earlier this year crowded our zinnia plants:

As you can see, that zinnia stem indicates these little dudes are LITTLE.

Yesterday morning, peering up from a basil leaf:

It's a very snouty little creature that I find adorable.
  I'm thinking Scolops genus, one of many plant hopper species.

I just love that face with the dreamy eyes. =)

The ONLY reason I knew this dried lavender leaf was actually
a crab spider is that it ran out & posed when I arrived.

Amazing camouflage.
Imagine flying around, trying to find nectar & pollen in a super dry year,
zooming past a dead lavender leaf & it GRABS AND EATS YOU.

Yikes! Nature is NOT kidding around.

I was in the above spider's neighborhood 'cause I'd spied this
and wanted to know who it was:

Looks a lot like our friend on the basil--though this one didn't fare so well.
But, a spider's gotta eat.

A relative: an exuvia of a fulgorid nymph (another adorbs plant hopper) I found days ago.
Even its exoskeleton is cute. =) This thing is pinky nail tiny or smaller.


This photo was taken from our backyard Saturday at 5:22 p.m.
The El Portal Fire started ~3:30 that day.
I love the (presumed) lenticular cloud forming over the pyrocumulus cloud. Wow!

Two minutes later, lenticulars are pretty much gone.
 SO much amazing texture.

Once again, felt the wildfire feelings:
awe at this powerful, weirdly beautiful phenomenon,
AND concerned our house might burn down.

Never fear, though, it's on the "other" side of Merced River from us,
and the "French" fire (east of Oakhurst, CA) is bigger & more out of control, 
but is much further from us.

In the meantime, we will be breathing a pretty smoky palette.

Never seen a forecast like THAT before. =)
However, better smoke than fire...

And there's always the smoky sunsets: delicious!


*This is based on the Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze song, from 1867, inspired by the super successful trapeze artist, Jules Leotard. Presume the name of the close fitting article of clothing favored by dancers comes from his last name. 
An image of Jules Léotard in the garment that bears his name (in public domain due to its age).

=) He's probably wearing rather unusual attire for the late 19th century, but I imagine he's wary of clothing that may catch on things...


  1. Wow, that shot of the plant bug emerging from its exoskeleton is cool as hell. I didn't know they could change color as they dry, and never would have guess it was even remotely related to the dark adult in the later photo. Thanks for sharing! (Also, that's quite the schnoz on the plant hopper)

    1. Hee. It was VERY exciting to see, but I left quickly 'cause I didn't want to make it leave (to avoid paparazzi) if it should be still. Yeah--bugs are pretty amazing, the things they do. Glad you like that nose--I was certainly impressed! =)

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Cool people write inside rectangles....