Bug Sex

Bug 1: OK. Now what are we supposed to do?

Bug 2: I don’t know!

Bug 1: You told me this was going to be fun. I’m not feeling it.

Bug 2: I thought it would be. Everyone else is doing it. Let’s see if we can fly.

Bug 1: Nope. I’m staying right here.

Mantis | Grasshopper Devoured

💢 Warning for the squeamish: This post is about insects eating each other.


Friends of ours live on an acreage several miles out of town which includes prairie, trees, a pond, and many kinds of wildlife. There are mantises and grasshoppers. One day, he found a mantis which captured a grasshopper and started to eat it. He recorded many photographs of the events to share with me. Here are but a few selected ones. It’s kind of gruesome. But, as Melanie has often said, “Hey, everybody has to eat.”

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Monarchs and Milkweeds

I was happy to see results in my milkweed patch.

Our View From Iowa

In the summer of 2015 I transplanted some local varieties of milkweed to a small patch in my garden next to the rain barrel. They were shocked by being dug up. I watered and they survived. In the summer of 2016 they all came up looking healthy. I was hopeful for visits by Monarch butterflies. I never saw evidence of any. If you aren’t familiar with milkweed, this link will help. When damaged, they bleed a white sap.

This year in 2017 the plants are nearly 6 ft tall and strong. I put a 4 ft tall piece of fencing around them so they wouldn’t blow over. This picture shows them in the center in full bloom. The second picture shows their flowered tops.

Milkweeds and Monarch butterflies have a special relationship. The butterflies over-winter in Mexico. In spring, they head north then northeast into the US following the maturation…

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House Wren | Welcome Back

We have company.

Our View From Iowa

I cleaned out the House Wren birdhouse last week to prepare for their arrival this week. This morning a single male could be heard in the bushes out back singing away. He soon got busy adding new twigs to the house in preparation for arrival of the females. He must do a good job in order to attract a female.

Wren1

Most of the twigs were small and fit easily into the small hole. But, now and then he brought one up that was awkward like this one. He tried several different approaches, first one end then the other.

Wren2

This stick got the best of him. He seemed quite frustrated with it. Persistence paid off in the end.

Wren3

These tiny birds are really busy non-stop. They forage for food. They sing loudly. They are very aggressive toward other birds much larger if they need to be. They scold us at times…

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Autumn Leaves | Scanned Images

Fellow bloggers Steve and Steve often include beautiful close-up photos of leaves in their posts. They inspired me to try imaging leaves in a different way. I decided to use a flatbed scanner. During a recent walk, I picked up three examples that were colorful and still in good shape. I got a pin oak, maple, and ornamental pear and headed home.

First up on the scanner was the oak leaf. I placed it face down on the glass and set the resolution to a high value of 800 dpi. I wanted to get lots of detail in the scanned image.

oak800_ref

Pin oak | 800 dpi | Reflection setting

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Perseid Meteors | 2015

Sky conditions could be excellent this year for the Perseid meteors. The moon will not be bright. If your sky is clear the night of August 12 into the morning of August 13, you have the opportunity to see several meteors per hour. The peak will occur at 3 am on the 13th CDT.

That is quite early. You can see them the night before in smaller numbers. Watch for their radiant near Cassiopeia in the eastern sky well after dark.

I invite you to listen to this audio tour of the August sky events brought to you by Sky & Telescope.

Venus and Jupiter | Photo Project

During June 16-30, people around the world watched the planets Venus and Jupiter near each other in the evening sky. Their performance culminated on the 30th when they were a mere 1/3˚ apart. Details here.

Multiple day events like this are challenging to watch. Weather in some parts of the world is unreliable. Here in the middle of the U.S. we have a wide variety of sky viewing conditions. Even so, I attempted to document this two week event with a picture each evening at about 9:30 pm. I put the images in sequence to show the movements of each planet.

I found a good location half a block down the street from our house. The camera was on a tripod and set to manual. It has a 6x optical zoom. Each photo was at a 3x zoom setting. ISO was 200. Aperture was f/5.6. Focus distance was infinity. Shutter speed was between 0.5 and 2 sec depending on brightness of the sky. Self-timer was always used to avoid shaking the camera.

I want to see your results.