Thrush-Bob Returns!

November 11, 2013

Seriously. I did a whole article on it here.

Nice to have a bright spot after that…um…”vacation.”

A Public Service Announcement

October 25, 2013

This is not a webcomic. It’s merely a series of related panels with word balloons.

mothpsaweb

The Mourning Cloak

October 23, 2013

Well, okay. One more. (Not a series!)

mothguidemourning

A Small Field Guide

October 22, 2013

mothguide

Still exhausted. Have another bug.

October 9, 2013

I am tired down to the bones from all this travel and there is still work to do, but today I just played with rocks in the garden and took pictures of caterpillars.

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I’m a Banded Tussock Caterpillar! LOOK AT MY AWESOME MUSTACHE!

Some day soon I hope to be back on my normal work schedule.

Still Life With Katydid

October 2, 2013

Heading out tomorrow at the crack of godawful, to visit my parents, do a gallery opening, all that good stuff. I am already tired, so this may be the Death March of the Wombat. We’ll see.

I shall leave you with a katydid.

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This is called a “Broad-Tipped Conehead Katydid.”

Seriously, check out that face.

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You can’t tell me he isn’t plotting something.

Also, I got a barred owl in the backyard last night, and that is just cool beyond all reason. And a life bird. At the moment, I am having enormous fun just finding new species in my yard, but perhaps the wilds of Upper Michigan will have some late migrants for me. Or some interesting ducks.

And then at least I get to be home for a little while, until it’s time to go sign copies of Digger. And then I’m not traveling again for anything less than Disneyworld or an act of God until May.

Spiny Oak Slug

October 1, 2013

Dude! Dude! Check this guy out!

spinyoakslug

I’m a Spiny Oak Slug! If you touch me, you will regret it!

Happened to be looking in exactly the right spot while building my swale and went “Wait a minute, that’s not a normal leaf…”

This is Euclea delphinii. He will turn into a brown moth with big green spots on his wings.

While trying to learn more about him, I ran smack into the wall of our vast ignorance. He probably eats oak. Probably. Maybe some other stuff. Nobody’s sure. And I literally cannot tell you if they are as common as dirt or desperately endangered, because their conservation status has never been evaluated. (My guess is that they are reasonably common because—well, obviously, I’m seeing one! And there are plenty of sightings on the various websites about bugs.)

We do know that they sting, and if you put your hand on one, you will need to use scotch tape to extract the spines from your skin. And if you’re very unlucky, you will have an allergic reaction and need to head to the hospital or at least load up on Benadryl.

Still, this kinda thing honestly freaks me out a little. That there are things so common that they are in my garden—and yet, we know almost nothing about them. Do they need to be protected? Can they live in cities? How far do they travel? What all do they eat?

Well, a new one for the yardlist, anyhow. So that’s something.

Hello, Apatelodes!

September 29, 2013
spottedapatelodes

I’m fluffy!

Unless my Bug-Guide-fu fails me, this is Apatelodes torrefacta. He will turn into a really freaky looking moth, the Spotted Apatelodes moth (seriously, look that thing up! They’re freaky!)

He’s a new one for the yard list, and a weirdly handsome little devil.

Serious Anole Is Very Serious

September 20, 2013

You are not serious enough to please Serious Anole.

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Do you think that life is all butterflies and delicious slugs? No!  SERIOUS ANOLE WILL HAVE NO MORE OF THIS FRIVOLITY.

(That handsome plant, by the by, is Camphor Pluchea, a weirdass native wildflower that I grew on a whim, which reseeds readily, if not frighteningly, and about which pretty much nobody knows nuthin’, beyond the dutiful listings in databases. It is an annual and plops itself into various damp spots around the garden, but doesn’t seem to do much beyond that. Bees don’t even know what to make of it, but teeny little weird pollinator flies think it is AWESOME.)

Hedges Against Despair

September 19, 2013

The world depresses me easily, O internet. The government spends so much time squabbling over idiotic things and I kind of want to yell “You guys do realize that if we don’t fix the bee problem, we’ll starve to death, right? Okay, just so we’re clear. No, no, go on, make your fifty-millionth symbolic attempt to defund Obamacare. I’m sure that’s much more important.”

So I go and wander around the garden, which is tired because it’s fall and things are dying or dried or weedy or spindly. (Well, in the backyard. The front yard is extravagant. Amazing what six inches of topsoil and five years can do.) And I have to go traveling soon, which is increasingly not my favorite thing to do. I need some downtime when I am not living toward the next time I have to get on a plane.

At times like this, I pull out my yard list.

It is a weird coping mechanism, I grant you, but there it is. It is a list of every species of bird, mammal, reptile, amphibian, butterfly, and dragonfly that has entered the yard that I have managed to identify. It is a list of all the stuff that got a home or an overnight rest stop or at least one good meal because once upon a time, I looked over the lawn and said “Yeah, we can do better.”

Birds — 66

Mammals — 6

Reptiles/Amphibians — 21

Crustacean — 1 (AND HOPEFULLY WILL STAY THAT WAY)

Butterflies & Moths — 33

Dragonflies & Damselflies — 7

Random Bugs & Spiders — 20*

I don’t even try to do plants, although I will note that two species of native orchid persist on the property—one in the foundation planting where there used to be a rather enthusiastic boxwood, no less. (Crippled cranefly and rattlesnake plantain orchid.)

It’s a weird OCD sort of coping mechanism, I grant you. It has no weighting, and counts a single ebony jewelwing sighting the same as an active breeding population of bronze frogs. Still, the numbers are oddly soothing, and reading down the lists of names is hypnotic. Carolina wren, blue gray gnatcatcher, mourning dove, pine warbler, American goldfinch, summer tanager, yellow-billed cuckoo, great crested flycatcher… ringnecked snake, brown snake, broadhead skink, Carolina anole, eastern pickerel frog… spring azure, pearl crescent, American painted lady, falcate orangetip, cloudless sulphur, luna moth, imperial moth, snowberry clearwing hawkmoth…click beetle, American ladybug, yellowjacket hoverfly, red velvet mite, huntsman spider, predacious diving beetle…

It’s not a huge nature preserve, or even a terribly large garden by many standards. It’s what one woman who isn’t too particular about weeds can manage. In some ways, it even makes less impact, out here in the woods, then it would in the city where it would be an oasis.

Nevertheless, when everything in the world feels horrible or stupid, it makes me feel like in some small way, I’m holding the line.

 

*There are undoubtedly way way more than twenty species, but I limit myself to ones I can ID by at least genus or common name, and critters like “jumping spiders” all get lumped together, even though there’s probably a gazillion individual species. I am almost embarassed by the scope and relative paucity of this list, which lumps wasps with dung beetles with millipedes with nursery web spiders.