Friday 5 Coming Tomorrow

I’ve been outside many, many hours this week during some incredibly hot weather.  Been wanting to blog all week, but I have zero energy!  I’ll get to Friday 5 tomorrow for sure, but in the meantime, this squirrel represents how I feel about the heat recently:

Hot squirrel

Hot squirrel

Look for a longer, insect focused post tomorrow!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

DW Passes 1,000,000 Views!!

CelebrationI’ve known it’s been coming for a while and have been eagerly watching my stats, but Sunday at 12:23pm EST my blog officially passed 1 million views!!  I am unbelievably excited about this.  Even after blogging for so long, it’s still hard to believe that there are so many people out there reading the really random things I like to talk about here, but I am thrilled. Simply thrilled.

My blog officially turns 6 years old in a few weeks and I’m planning to do a sort of 6-year, 1,000,000 view review then, but for now let me just say thank you to everyone who has ever visited my blog.  To those of you who read regularly and/or comment on posts, I really, really appreciate the support that you especially have shown toward this little insect blog.  I have enjoyed getting to know some of you in person and interacting with others of you regularly online.  I look forward to many more conversation and celebrations of insects with you all!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

More Insect Haikus (Friday 5)

The insect activity was a bit sparse this week, in spite of some lovely warm days and some exciting things that happened.  Because there are so few insects to report, I’m going to share some haikus of recent insect and insect-related observations I’ve made over the past few weeks.  Hope you enjoy them!

Ode to the Fall Cankerworm

Female cankerworm

Wingless cankerworm
crawling up a maple tree,
lays her eggs while cold.

If you’ve followed my blog recently, you’ve already read about the fall cankerworms I’ve watched recently.  They disappeared from their usual spot for a couple of weeks during some very cold weather and an ice storm, but they’ve come back!  I was more excited about that than I probably should have been…

Burning the Prairie

Prairie burn

Snap crackle and pop,
winter prairie fire burns, 
insects flee the flames.

The natural resources guy at the field station leads a controlled burn of a third of the prairie every winter as part of the prairie maintenance, and it took place yesterday.  It’s always exciting to watch, but for the first time I noticed a lot of insects out and about near the burn area, some of which had clearly been roaming around in the ashes.  Made me think that the rabbits, cotton rats, and mice aren’t the only things that flee as the fire advances!  Interesting to see so many insects roaming around after the burn.

Stuff of Insect Nightmares

Brown headed nuthatch

Tap tap tap it goes,
the nuthatch looks for a treat,
insect under bark.

I’ve fallen in love with brown-headed nuthatches recently!  They’re adorable and it’s fun to watch them breaking off pieces of bark to get to the tasty insects hidden underneath.  They’re rather resourceful little birds!

Wasps in Winter

Wasp nest

Huge paper wasp nest,
high up in a winter tree.
Glad it’s cold today!

I got to go on a fantastically fun trip with a bunch of other environmental educators to the Pungo Unit of Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge last weekend.  It’s an overwintering site for tens of thousands of tundra swans, snow geese, and red-winged blackbirds, and you can see flocks of 30,000-40,000 birds.  It’s absolutely and indescribably amazing!  But, I got excited about a few insect sightings as well.  I’m going to write about one of them in a longer blog post sometime soon, but one of the other women on the trip noticed the awesome wasp in the photo high in a tree.  It was truly massive, so I think both of us were actually just fine with being cold at that moment as it meant we weren’t going to be inundated by angry wasps while we milled around under their beautiful nest.

The Birds

Red winged blackbirds

The red-winged blackbirds
flying over winter fields
look like clouds of gnats.

I couldn’t resist throwing in this haiku about the red-winged blackbirds, even though it just alludes to insects.  There were just SO many of them at Pungo!  If any of you ever make it out to eastern North Carolina in the winter, it’s well worth a visit to Pungo or nearby Lake Mattamuskeet to see the birds.  The photo doesn’t give you a good sense of what it feels like to have several thousand birds swirling around in a huge mass in front of you only to have the entire flock fly right over your head only 10 feet above you.  It was like a black wall that was about to engulf you, but it swerved upward at the last moment and disappeared over the trees.  It was magical!

It’s winter, but there’s always great stuff to see outside and I’ve really been enjoying exploring recently.  Anyone want to take a stab at a winter themed haiku?  Pick any topic of your choice, so long as it focuses on winter.  Would love to read anything you come up with, so leave poems in the comments!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Best of 2014 and a Resolution

A lot of bloggers do best of the year compilations at the end of the year, and I focus mine on insect photos.  Because I haven’t gotten to be very active on my blog this year, you all haven’t even seen a lot of my favorite photos yet!  This year, rather than posting just my favorite photos from those posted on my blog in 2014, I created a best of album on Flickr that included all of my favorite shots of the year, whether I posted them here or not.  The collection includes these shots that were posted:

This year, I also included some things that aren’t insects in my best of the year album.  I, for example, spent a little over two weeks in Ireland in August and how can you resist including landscape photos from such a spectacular place?  I’ve also been practicing my bird photography this year, so I’ve included some photos of birds – even a couple of reptiles!  I hope you all enjoy the album. You can find it here:

Best of 2014

And now for my resolution: I will blog more often in 2015!  I think I am trying to force myself to stick to my self-inflicted blogging schedule, but because my work schedule and my blogging schedule don’t mesh currently, I don’t blog.  So, screw my blogging schedule!  I am going to come up with a new blogging schedule and try to stick with it all year.  I miss blogging and want to get back into it!

Just so you all know, I do blog about nature and citizen science regularly for the Museum where I work as part of my job, so you can always find me there.  My Museum posts aren’t all about insects, but almost all are about nature.  Please check out the museum blog if you’re interested in learning more about the wildlife of North Carolina!  You can find a list of all of my posts here:

http://ncmns.wordpress.com/author/christinegoforth/

Hope you all are looking forward to a great 2015!  I know I am.

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Friday 5 (on Saturday): Insect Haikus for the End of Summer

For some reason, I was feeling poetic today.  I started making up poems in my head on my way home from work and made excellent progress on a multi-stanza educational poem about dragonflies I might share with you sometime.  But I also came up with a series of haikus, inspired by the changing seasons and some of the insects I’ve seen recently.  Without further ado, I give you five illustrated insect haikus!

Woolly Bear

Woolly bear caterpillar, Pyrrharctia isabella

Little fuzzy worm
Brown and black on the dirt road
Winter is coming

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Brunner's stick mantid

Brunner’s stick mantid, Burnneria borealis

Green stick-like mantid
Lurking in the tall prairie
As fall quickly comes

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Pipevine caterpillars

Pipevine caterpillars, Battus philenor

Black caterpillars
Munching on a pipevine leaf
At the summer’s end

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Swarm over upper prairie

Dragonfly swarm over upper prairie

Shorter summer days
Bring a swirl of dragonflies
Over goldenrod

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Whirligig beetle swirls, Dineutus sp.

Whirligig beetle swirls, Dineutus sp.

Whirligig beetles
Dart on the water’s surface
A riot of life

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I love writing haikus!  Anyone want to add to what I’ve started here?  I welcome original insect haikus in the comments, or post one on your blog and paste the link to it below.  Remember, haikus follow a 5-7-5 syllable structure and traditionally were about nature and the seasons.  My whirligig haiku is, for example, not a traditional haiku because it is all about the beetles and doesn’t address how they are tied to a season.  I’d love to see what other people can come up with, so I hope some of you will take me up on my haiku challenge!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Changing Up Fridays

Welcome to 2014!  Woo, new year!  You have NO idea how happy I am that 2013 is over.  I hope you all are looking forward to the new year as well.

The start of a new year is a good time to start thinking about the way you do things and to make changes, and I’ve decided I’m going to make some changes on the ol’ blog here.  I haven’t had as much time to work on my blog as I have in the past.  Unfortunately, that means that I’ve come to rely on my weekly features almost entirely and haven’t been able to write about scientific papers or other more hard-core science nearly as often as I would like. It has become increasingly difficult just to get Friday 5 posts up!  However, I realized a few days ago that it really wasn’t because I didn’t have time to write the Friday 5’s, but because I didn’t want to write them.  I looked back and found that I posted my first Friday 5 on October 22, 2010.  I’ve written a Friday 5 on nearly every Friday since then.  That’s over three years.  That’s a LOT of Fridays!  Quite frankly, I’m running out of things to write about and I’m starting to find the format stifling – it’s sucking the joy out of blogging for me, and that’s not good. So, say goodbye to Friday 5.  Goodbye Friday 5!  It was fun while it lasted, but I’m not going to miss you.

Now say hello to the NEW DW Friday: Friday Favorites!

Friday Favorites is going to be similar to Friday 5 in many ways, but have a different focus.  Rather than simply making lists of related things, I’m going to create lists of insect-related things that make me happy.  This might sound awfully fluffy, but that’s not my intention!  All my favorite posts I’ve written are about things that I find absolutely fascinating and that I want to share with the world so badly that I can hardly wait to write about them. Those things are a joy to write about, so I want to get away from making my dull, arbitrary lists and instead focus more on the strange or wonderful things I see that make me think, “Wow, I have to write about this!”   My very best Friday 5’s stemmed from those sorts of experiences, but I find that recently I’m reaching to create those lists because I’m forcing myself to find 5 related things to write about.  Life doesn’t always give you things in neat little packages like that and I find that I’m not writing about things that I want to write about because they don’t fit the format I’ve set for myself.  That’s just stupid!  Changing my Friday format will help me refocus my blog on the things that excite me most and bring the joy back into my blogging experience.  I hope it will mean that I’m giving you all more interesting things to read as well!

Friday Favorites is going to be about the insect-centric things that have amazed me or I thought were beautiful or just made me smile.  I might occasionally throw in something non-insect just because the world is too amazing to ignore everything else.  I’m not going to give myself any restrictions for how many things I need to include each week or what those things need to be, but I will keep trying to post weekly because I like the routine.  I do, however, want to try to get back to a more scientific place with my blog whenever possible, so that it’s less about me telling stories about my interactions with insects (how did I even end up there?) and more about the reasons behind why I see the amazing things I observe. Those behind the scenes processes are what compelled me to become a scientist, why I still spend every day wondering at the amazing things filling the world. Deep down, I want to know how it all works – and I want to share what I learn about this awesome place we live with all of you.

So, Friday Favorites is going to be about the crazy cool, wondrous world we live in, seen through the lens of an entomologist.  I hope you’ll enjoy it.  Look for the first post next week!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Merry Christmas from the Dragonfly Woman

I know I’ve been terrible about blogging recently and it’s because I have a whole lot of family and personal stuff going on right now that is sucking up all of my free time, but it wouldn’t be a proper Christmas if I didn’t at least post a Christmas insect for you all!  This year, the hat went on one of my favorite beetles, the delta flower scarab:

Santa scarab-2

Santa scarab

I even got to use a Christmas toy to make this year’s Santa insect: my husband got me a Wacom tablet! Woo!

Hope all of you out there who celebrate Christmas are having a wonderful, spectacular day!  And if you don’t celebrate Christmas, I hope you are having a wonderful, spectacular, everyday sort of day instead.

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth