Sunday, January 26, 2020

HumBug: Three for a Rainy Day

Posted By on Sun, Jan 26, 2020 at 6:13 PM

With rainy cold days suppressing entomological activity it put my assertion that there's always, ALWAYS something interesting to find outdoors to the test. So, camera in hand, I went looking.

The weather forecast said it would snow down to 1,000 feet elevation, so it was indeed cold out and there was very little activity above ground. But a quick tip of an old cinderblock showed three denizens often found there: a centipede, a Jerusalem cricket and a ground beetle.
Mother centipede strikes a defensive pose around her young. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Mother centipede strikes a defensive pose around her young.
These centipedes (Scolopocryptops gracilis) often exhibit maternal protective behavior.

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Sunday, January 19, 2020

HumBug: The Current Mass Extinction

Posted By on Sun, Jan 19, 2020 at 4:51 PM

There have been five major mass extinction events in the fossil record. Some folks claim the human race is causing the sixth right now. Dumping massive amounts of greenhouse gasses, saturating the world with never before seen chemicals and introducing all manner of non-native species willy nilly are touted as the major causes. 
Apple damage from insects competing with me for the fruit of my trees. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Apple damage from insects competing with me for the fruit of my trees.

I have a different perspective. As population inexorably increases, loss of species diversity is directly driven through the conversion of wild lands to agricultural lands necessary to support the increasing number of (human) mouths.

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Sunday, January 12, 2020

HumBug: Even Parasites have Nightmares

Posted By on Sun, Jan 12, 2020 at 11:10 AM

Some experts assert that the most common lifestyle in nature is that of parasitism. (Read Rachel Nuwer's interview with ecologist Kevin Lafferty "Parasitism is the Most Popular Lifestyle on Earth" for more on this.) The world of arthropods is no exception. I've mentioned before that mankind's deadliest opponent in nature is the synergistic combination of mosquitoes and the diseases they carry.
Bloated tick which apparently fell off the dog onto our bed. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Bloated tick which apparently fell off the dog onto our bed.
Our native species aren't vectors for the worst of the ailments but, locally, ticks can and do carry Lyme disease, which came to mind when we found a blood engorged female on our bed after the dog spent an evening there.

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