Sunday, February 23, 2020

HumBug: Strategy

Posted By on Sun, Feb 23, 2020 at 1:41 PM

I had to remind myself it's still winter as I watched a mourning cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) and two smaller orange butterflies flutter by, too high and fast to get a photo of. The orange specimens were most likely rustic anglewings but there are several other locally common species which overwinter as adults, emerging on warm winter days. Painted ladies and tortoise shells, to name two.
In England, the mourning cloak, known as the Camberwell beauty, emerges from its winter hiding place to frolic on warm winter days. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • In England, the mourning cloak, known as the Camberwell beauty, emerges from its winter hiding place to frolic on warm winter days.
Biology and entomological texts say this “strategy” gives species practicing it a jump start over others which spend the cold, barren months of winter completely dormant as eggs, larvae or pupas.

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Sunday, February 16, 2020

HumBug: Winter Insects

Posted By on Sun, Feb 16, 2020 at 11:10 AM

Walking along the road, I saw my first two milkmaids (Cardamine californica), the daffodil bulbs my friend gave me last fall, are starting to put up leaves and the pussy willows are budding out. They are all welcome reminders, spring is still in our future. 
Pussy willows are starting to bud out, even if not yet open for business. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Pussy willows are starting to bud out, even if not yet open for business.
Despite the coolness of the day, there were quite a few small wolf spiders and a few unidentified flies sunning themselves on rocks near the river.

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Sunday, February 2, 2020

HumBug: Worms, Ticks and Hand Sanitizer

Posted By on Sun, Feb 2, 2020 at 3:21 PM

During the damp months of the year, dozens of robins at a time visit my yard. They hop about, stopping, tilting their heads, then driving their beaks into the ground, sometimes pulling up an earthworm. This is an important component of their diet, sustaining them throughout the winter.
Robins hunt worms by listening: finding their prey by listening for the sounds of them tunneling through the dirt. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Robins hunt worms by listening: finding their prey by listening for the sounds of them tunneling through the dirt.
Any comprehensive study of ecology must include them. Digesters of organic waste, soil aerators and all-around good guys, they are at the base of many food chains.
It has been asserted that a healthy pasture contains a greater tonnage of worms beneath the surface than cattle above.

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