Monday Mammals

A Selection of Beetles

.Tentatively identified as Big-headed Ground Beetle (Scarites subterraneus). Alternate common name: Tunneling Large Penducculate Beetle. About an inch long.
Pigweed Flea Beetle (Disonycha glabrata), also tentatively identified. So many beetles, so little time…
Locust Borer (Megacyllene robiniae). It’s the larvae who do the boring.
Speaking of boring: Curculio genus, I think, one of the nut and acorn weevils. This one was underneath a Pin Oak hailing acorns.
Altica litigata, maybe, or maybe not. Have I said there are a lot of beetle species out there? Arthur V. Evans’s Beetles of the Eastern North America has 1.409 species in it, and it can’t be comprehensive. Too many beetles in this planet of beetles. Many species can only be identified by examine the male genitalia,
Terminal Net-winged Beetle (Caenia dimidiata).

Donations, as always, accepted for the upkeep of this blog.

Saber Preening

Black and White


Raptor Wednesday

Red-tailed Hawk.

Dipping into Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy, which celebrates its inexhaustible 400th year this year, I find in the glossary castril (kestrel) and tassel (tiercel, a male falcon).

“[…]he is nobody that in the season hath not a hawk on his fist. […] The Persian kings hawk after butterflies with sparrows made to that use, and stares [starlings]; lesser hawks for lesser games they have, and bigger for the rest, that they may produce their sport to all seasons. The Muscovian emperors reclaim eagles to fly at hinds, foxes, etc., and such a one was sent for a present to Queen Elizabeth; some reclaim ravens, castrils, pies [magpies, I think], etc, and man them for their pleasures.”

Some Ichneumonids

This time of year, there are a lot of chneumonidae hustling about.

The superfamily Ichneumonoidea, the Braconid and Ichneumonid Wasps, are a broad and diverse taxonomic collection of parasitic wasps. All these females are hunting for the anthropoids they parasitize. But, alas, they’re really hard to ID by photograph alone. (For instance, I have 78 iNaturalist observations in this superfamily, but only 14 are identified to species level.)

Some this-is-the-best-planet coolness from “Two subfamilies of Ichneumonidae (Campopleginae and Banchinae) and 6 subfamilies of Braconidae (Microgastrinae, Miracinae, Cheloninae (including Adeliinae), Cardiochilinae, Khoikhoiinae, and Mendesellinae) carry polydnavirus DNA in their genomes, and release polydnaviruses into the host when the eggs are injected. The polydnaviruses suppress the host’s immune system, thus protecting parasitoid progeny from host defenses.”

On iNaturalist, somebody marveled at the fearsome “stinger” on one of these. But these aren’t stingers. They’re ovipositors. The female wasps are looking for the species they parasitize to lay their eggs on, or in. There are thousands of kinds of wasps in North America; very few of them sting, and then only when provoked. I’ve photographed many social wasps, the kinds that may sting, without bother. The only times I’ve been stung it’s been by by a honey bee. (Most bees don’t sting, either.)

This is a good read on the notion of “beneficial” and “pest” insects.

More Mighty Kinglets

Both kinglet species were in this elm on Saturday.
I only got photographs of the Golden-crowned.
The tiny bill on these things!
This one-eyed one seemed to be holding their own.

In Praise of Meadows

Good things happen in the grass.
(Not lawns; nothing happens in a lawn.)
The meadows leap and rebound with life. They sing out with life, too.
Leafhoppers, grasshoppers, meadow katydids, crickets.

The annual WordPress bill comes due this time of year. Which is why I solicit donations for this blog. It costs about $400 for domain and hosting per annum, so thank you for your past, present, and future support.

I recommend Annelien De Dijn’s Freedom: An Unruly History, a look at how freedom and liberty have been defined and contested over for some 2500 years in the Western European tradition. It’s helpful in explaining the anti-democratic forces at play today in the Republican Party–they have deep antecedents in counter-revolutionary thought.

A Kinglet in Autumn


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