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


Brunner's stick mantid

Brunner’s stick mantid, Burnneria borealis

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


Pipevine caterpillars

Pipevine caterpillars, Battus philenor

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


Swarm over upper prairie

Dragonfly swarm over upper prairie

Shorter summer days
Bring a swirl of dragonflies
Over goldenrod


Whirligig beetle swirls, Dineutus sp.

Whirligig beetle swirls, Dineutus sp.

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


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!


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!


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.


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

Friday 5 Coming Tomorrow

Well, here it is, the end of Friday, and I still haven’t gotten my Friday 5 post up for the week yet.  Instead, it’s coming tomorrow!  In the meantime, here’s a photo of the back-end of a dragonfly that I rather like.  It’s not perfect by any means, but I draw your attention to the wingbuds:

Dragonfly nymph

Dragonfly nymph

Look how you can see the tiny little wings developing in there!  And you can even tell this is going to be a skimmer because you can see the tell-tale “boot” shape in the hindwing.  So cool that you can see those things developing right before your eyes!

Until tomorrow!


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

Happy Turkey Day!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Have some turkey:


Wild turkeys, Cataloochee Valley,. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

I know it’s not a great photo – those turkeys will really far away from where I was and I didn’t have a tripod – but you get the idea.  :)


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

I promise I’m coming back!

Hello everyone!

Just in case you were worried, I have NOT in fact dropped off the face of the Earth!  I’ve been gone for two reasons:

1) My hard drive on my computer died.

I haven’t ever actually HAD this experience before, so it took me three weeks to realize why my computer wasn’t working properly.  If it had been a spectacular failure, with my hard drive going out in a blaze of heroic glory, I might have figured it out sooner.  But no, it sort of creaked along for a couple of months, getting slower and more decrepit each day.  I ran through several different attempts to fix the problem based on previous experiences with slow computers before I finally realized that my hard drive was on its way out.

All that was fine and good – I found the problem.  Yay!  However, getting a new hard drive is like getting a whole new computer.  I absolutely HATE getting new computers.  I find installing software and transferring over all my files to be tedious beyond belief.  It is such an unbelievable waste of life for me.  If it wasn’t for the fact that I could no longer view any of my RAW format photos and that was driving me absolutely crazy, I would probably still be finding excuses to avoid installing my software.

So, I installed my software (most of it at least…), but then…

2) I Immediately went on vacation.

I made plans back in February to go to New York and visit my aunt during the good fall leaf time.  We spent a few nights in New York City where we ate some really excellent (but expensive) food and saw some really excellent (but expensive) museums, including the marvelous American Museum of Natural History.  Then we took a train to my aunt’s town in upstate New York.  There I ate in my cousin’s restaurant, visited with his family, went to more museums with my aunt, and generally had a wonderful time.  However, I didn’t have access to a computer most of that time and wanted to make the most of my time with my family, thus the blog silence continued.

I didn’t see too many insects on my trip (though I did find a deer tick crawling on my hand after spending 5 minutes outside looking at leaves one day – seriously, New York?), but I did see some in an art exhibit at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art:

art installation by Johnny Carrera

Icicahiya by Johnny Carrera

That’s a piece by Johnny Carrera called Icicahiya, a lovely screenprinted installation that was set up to look like sails on a sailboat.  I’ll be perfectly honest: I have no idea what this piece is meant to represent, but my eye was IMMEDIATELY drawn to the print of the giant water bug.  You can see it along the bottom row, between the beetle and the internal combustion engine.  I absolutely loved this piece!  It combines screenprints of black images on white and has an old natural history book/informatic look to it.  Wish I could have something like this in my living room…

Now I’m back home, but I’m leaving again tomorrow afternoon for a work trip to the Smoky Mountains: I’m attending one of my Museum’s educator treks for teachers and informal educators.  These trips are fantastic!  This particular trip is focused on elks and bringing field work into K-12 classrooms and informal education settings and it should be great fun.  We’ll also be learning about the awesome citizen science program at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is why I want to go.  I am really looking forward to the trip!

And all this is to say I haven’t forgotten about the blog, but there have been extenuating circumstances that have prevented my writing for the past 3 weeks. But, I fully intend to jump right back in next week, just as soon as I get back from my trip to the mountains.  I’ll try to make the post worth the wait!

Hope you’re all doing well and, if you’re from the Northern Hemisphere, enjoying the fall!


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

Friday 5, coming soon!

I hate to do it, but I have to postpone Friday 5 until tomorrow.  Sleep…  It’s a good thing!  Especially when you’re looking at a 13 hour work day on Saturday.  So, I’m headed off to sleep for now and will resume working on my post tomorrow.  I leave you with this photo, a taste of what’s to come:

Crane Fly on Holly

Crane fly on holly

Until tomorrow then!


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