Sunday, May 26, 2019

HumBug: A Patch of Daisies

Posted By on Sun, May 26, 2019 at 2:57 PM

Bumblebee on daisy. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Bumblebee on daisy.

Driving along U.S. Highway 101 lately, you see patches of newly emerging ox-eye daisies (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum). As idyllic as they might seem from a distance, there's a lot going on up close. This European species was introduced to North America in the 1800s and has become widely naturalized. Although considered an invasive weed by some, their seeds are often included in wildflower mixes.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , , ,

Sunday, May 19, 2019

HumBug: School Days

Posted By on Sun, May 19, 2019 at 4:17 PM

Mantis selfie got the best laugh from the kids. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Mantis selfie got the best laugh from the kids.

I was recently invited to give a slide show and talk to the second graders at a local school. Everytime I do this, we have fun. This time I think everyone had a question or story to share. Both good and bad, insects are something they could relate to, serving as a gateway to the sciences.

Big closeups of wasps and spiders were a favorite, but number one was the mantis selfie shot.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , ,

Sunday, May 12, 2019

HumBug: The Bald Faced Truth

Posted By on Sun, May 12, 2019 at 5:32 PM

A profile shot of a worker bald faced hornet. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • A profile shot of a worker bald faced hornet.

I decided to devote this week's contribution to a single unpopular species. Known for its large size, aggressive behavior and powerful sting, the bald faced hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) is liked by few people. They're neither completely bald faced nor technically hornets. Their white faces are sparsely covered with setae (hairs) and they are, in fact, the largest member of the yellow jacket clade of wasps.

When I spotted one building a slender, gray stalactite from the ridge of my greenhouse, I knew it was preparing to build a nest. Instead of reaching for the wasp killer, I reached for a camera. I really wanted to find where she was gnawing the wood she ground into a pulp to build her nest. I was going to stain some paper with food coloring and try to get her to build a multi colored hive. Sadly, I never found the source of her building materials.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , ,

Sunday, May 5, 2019

HumBug: Beetles in the Spring

Posted By on Sun, May 5, 2019 at 12:12 PM

Omus, probably californicus. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Omus, probably californicus.

While beetles were my first love when I started studying insects and are believed to have the greatest number of species of any of the insect orders, I find I seldom write about them. There are plenty to write about. The following are just a few I've seen in the last week.

Two years ago I wrote about the night stalking tiger beetle (Omus californicus), a nocturnal terror with a Darth Vader demeanor. That was the first one I'd ever seen, and I was impressed by its ferocious face. This year I've seen several both at night and in the daytime. Like their cousins within the family cincidela, they possess huge mandibles to subdue prey and with which the males hold onto their mates.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: ,

socialize

Facebook | Twitter

© 2020 North Coast Journal

Website powered by Foundation