Posts Tagged 'invertebrates'

Thoreau Thursday

dipteraThe other day, when I noticed a host of gnat-like flies outside the kitchen window, it was 54 degrees F and overcast. matingNothing to see here, people, move along.

Well, actually, we can see an awful lot here. The top specimen is, I assume, male, because of those moth-like feathery antennae; the better to sense you with, my dear. You can just see, between his middle and hind legs, two barbell-like projections: these are the halteres. Flies are in the order Diptera, which means two-winged. Many insects have four wings; halteres are sort of vestigial hindwing stubs; they help with aerial maneuvering, evidently, like around your ears as they hunger for your blood stream. Yeah, mosquitos are Diptera.

Also, note out much larger the female is. She frankly looks like a member of another species entirely. Is this an egg-carrying adaptation?

“It is discouraging to talk with men who will recognize no principles. How little use is made of reason in this world!” HDT, March 4, 1852.

You may have had the experience of attempting to argue with a person who believes, say, that the tiles are showering down in New York City tunnels, or that “welfare queens” use their paltry government checks to buy champagne and other aspects of the high life that good solid working folk do not enjoy. You used all the evidence you could muster to argue, actually, no, neither of these things are happening, or, if indeed there’s evidence of one such incident, it only means there’s one example of it, not the rule at all. But not only are you not believed, the person becomes more convinced that they’re right.

Indeed, limited-information people actually double-down in their belief in their fantasies when presented with evidence that they’re wrong. Social scientists call this the “backfire effect.” (No one, after all, likes discovering that they’re chumps played for suckers.) Blindly following Trump as they blindly believed Obama was a Muslim coming to take away their guns, such willful idiots are the foot-soldiers of Trumpism’s attack on democracy. They are their own willing executioners. To note that, at most, they’re 25% of the population is an understatement of the threat they pose to us all. And besides, there’s definitely some of this conspiratorial thinking across the spectrum.

“…but it sprang back to its former stubborn and unhandsome position like a bit of whalebone.”

Wooly Bear

Pyrrharctia isabellaOur old friend the Banded Wooly Bear caterpillar, bearishly larval stage of the Isabella Tiger Moth, Pyrrharctia isabella. This was found behind a large piece of bark, which was put back. img_2643Have you heard the one about judging winter’s length/severity by the amount of black and/or orange on the animal? Turns out that the colors are just a factor of age: the orange expands and the black contracts during each successive molt.Pyrrharctia isabellaThe caterpillar is overwintering in a state of dormancy. They can actually freeze solid and thaw out without ill-effects. An Arctic Wolly Bear (I’m not sure it’s the same species) has such a short period of summer that it can stay in the caterpillar stage for a dozen years, growing a bit each summer before finally cocooning and reforming as an adult, when it lives for about a day.

I would not recommend living in a state of dormancy right now. Things to do instead.

Twilight of the Gods



Euptoieta claudiaA Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia) yesterday in the Buddleia pollinator-magnet at Green-Wood. First time I’ve seen this species here in NYC, although I’d seen one before in Arizona. They’re a southern species, uncommon here, but have been known to get up to Canada.

Tiger Beetle

Cicindela limbalisA Common Claybank Tiger Beetle (Cicindela limbalis). Also known as the Green-margined Tiger Beetle. Spotted by a owl-eyed friend on a lichen-anchored rock on Mt. Taurus up above Cold Spring, NY, on a recent hike. Tiger beetles, in addition to being stripy are fast-moving predators of other insects.

viewThis was the view from up there.

Monarch, Comma

Danaus plexippusSpotted two Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) in Green-Wood today.Danaus plexippusLike perfect little kites of joy.Polygonia commaAlso saw some Cabbage Whites, Orange Sulphurs, and several skippers. Pretty good for a day with temps in the high 40s at sunrise. There was also this Comma (Polygonia comma).Polygonia commaSoaking up the sun.

After Barely A Summer Dies the Bee

SolidagoThis goldenrod was chock-a-stem with bumblebees, carpenter bees, and honeybees, moving slowly if at all on a cool day. You could pet them if you liked. XylocopaThis is the last hurrah for the bumbles and carpenter bees, except for already mated queens, who will soon find a place tucked away in leaf litter for the winter. Female honeybees will overwinter in the hive, keeping their queen warm. It’s curtains for all the males.xylocopaI’ve never noticed the white face mark of the male Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica).img_0410The great circle of life in action: a mantis munches away at a still-flailing bumblebee.


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