Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: Late Season Odonates

I finally made it to the North Carolina Zoo a few days ago!  I had wanted to go since I moved here, largely because they have a Sonoran Desert exhibit with a lot of the species I miss from Arizona, and I was excited I finally had a chance to go.  The Sonoran Desert exhibit was not my favorite part, however.  It was this:

 

Lestes sp

Archilestes grandis?

There were dozens of dragonflies and damselflies (=odonates) out flying around the marshy area near the entrance!  I am not 100% sure which species this is as they were a ways off and I am really that not great at IDing lestid damselfly species anyway, but they were huge so probably Archilestes grandis? And there were a lot of them.  I was excited to see any dragonflies or damselflies out this late in the year!

Anyone else still seeing dragonflies and damselflies?

(Thanks to Mike Powell for making me question my initial identification of this damselfly as a Lestes sp.!)

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

Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: On Mammals and Insects… on Mammals!

Well, life keeps getting in the way of blogging, but I really wanted to get SOMETHING up today!  So, I bring you the noble cotton rat:

Cotton Rat

One of my coworkers at the natural history museum where I work live traps small mammals to monitor their population at the museum’s field station.  I finally had an opportunity to go with them a few weeks ago, and this rat in particular, though quite elderly and a little soggy, ended up being my favorite.  I love rodents in general, but we were also collecting insect and arachnid parasites off the mammals in the traps, you see, and this was the ONLY rat we got that had anything on it: a single flea.  My coworker grabbed the flea and I carried it around in a little vial in my pocket the rest of the morning.  I can’t say why, but the idea that I was carrying a flea in my pocket really amused me.  Granted, it WAS quite early in the morning at the end of an exhausting week, so my threshold for what I thought was funny that morning was perhaps a bit lower than normal…

I get my whole weekend off this week, so I might actually have time to get caught up on my dragonfly swarm blog posts.  Here’s hoping nothing else comes up before then!

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

Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: Sluuuuuurp!

I was out with my intern a few weeks ago looking for caterpillars and showed her some spicebush swallowtail and black swallowtail caterpillars before we made our way to the pipevine to look for pipevine swallowtail caterpillars. She hadn’t ever seen the pipevines, so I pointed out a few and we started looking around to see how many we could find on the plants.  I peered into the leaves trying to find a big caterpillar that was about to pupate when I saw a really odd-looking, shriveled caterpillar.  I assumed it was dead, but when I looked a little closer it moved.  So I looked even closer and saw this:

Jumping spider eating a pipevine swallowtail caterpillar

If that spider could smile, it totally would!  He (or she) looked quite pleased with himself and was dragging the wrinkly carcass around with him as he tried to hide under a leaf.  He was NOT letting that thing go – it was probably the score of a lifetime!

Isn’t nature grand?

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

Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: Sometimes It’s Okay to Be Blurry

Ever have this happen: you take a photo of something that’s moving quickly in low-ish light and it’s super blurry, but you kinda like it anyway?  That’s what happened with this millipede:

Millipede blur

Millipede blur

No idea what kind of millipede this is, but it was pretty and I wanted a photo.  This is not a clear photo by any means, but it’s my favorite of the lot anyway.

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

Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: Dragons and Damsels of Ireland

Long time no post, I know, but I’ve been wrapped up in a lot of different things recently and haven’t had time to even think, let alone post on my blog.  But I think things are calming down a bit and I’ll have more time to do the things I like. I’m eager to get back to blogging!

One of the things I was doing during my recent long absence was going on a really excellent vacation, a two-week trip to Ireland with my sister.  We toured almost the entire Irish coast in that time and I’m quite sure the trip is going to be one of the highlights of my life.  Ireland is unbelievably beautiful and I absolutely loved it!  It was, however, shockingly devoid of insect life.  I carefully picked out a dragonfly and damselfly field guide before I left, mapped out everywhere we were going, compared our itinerary to the range maps in my guide so I’d know what to expect where, and I hauled my book over in eager anticipation of seeing a hoard of Irish odonates.  I saw one damselflies in the 15 days I spent on the island.  One!  And I barely even got a look at it, definitely didn’t get a photo, and it flew off almost immediately after I spotted it on the banks of this pond:

Powerscourt Estate, County Wicklow, Ireland

Powerscourt Estate, County Wicklow, Ireland

At least the setting was pretty!  If you only get a glimpse of a single small damselfly on a trip, it’s nice to have that one sort of disappointing sighting occur at a place where there are other things to look at, such as grand estate houses, arboretums, and beautifully manicured gardens.  :)

I am working on getting through my massive backlog of dragonfly swarm data to get it up on Sunday this week and I should be posting on Friday.  Here’s hoping nothing else comes up to prevent that happening!

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

Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: The Big One

I’ve been setting up my blacklight in my yard every night for three and a half weeks now and check on it periodically throughout the evening.  It’s been an interesting experience and I’ve learned a lot of new things about insect behaviors that I didn’t know before by watching the things that come to my light.  However, what I’ve really been hoping for is just one big moth.  My backyard is all grass except for a row of non-native privet hedges, so it’s not an ideal habitat for most big things.  Still, I finally got one big moth last night:

tulip tree silkmoth

Tulip tree silkmoth

A tulip tree silkmoth!  These are large, beautiful moths that come out a little earlier in the evening than a lot of the other large moths.  Indeed, this one showed up on the sheet about 10:30PM.  It was still on my sheet this morning, so I picked it up to move it to the bushes so it wouldn’t be quite so conspicuous to my dogs.  It eventually flew off.  What a lovely thing to see!

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

Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: Nom Nom Nom

When the plant called rattlesnake master blooms, you can expect to find all sorts of insects coming to it to feed!  I don’t know exactly what it is about this plant that is so incredibly alluring to so many species of insects, but the strange little spiky flower balls can become absolutely covered with bees, ants, wasps, butterflies, moths, beetles, and other insects.  It recently bloomed in my area, so today I bring you a photo of a delta flower scarab and a little bee chowing down on nectar from a rattlesnake master flower cluster:

Delta flower scarab on rattlesnake master

Delta flower scarab on rattlesnake master

The flowers smell awful to me, so I guess you have to be a pollinator to fully appreciate them.

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