Friday 5: What I Did Today

Greetings from Asheville, NC!  I’m here attending an environmental education conference, enjoying the cool weather and the mountains after over a year with nary a mountain in sight.  I miss my mountains, so I’m loving it here!  I also got to do and see all sorts of buggy things today, so I thought I’d share some the highlights with you all.   The photos in this post are “meh” as I took a lot of them with my phone in bad light, but here are some cool things I felt the need to document today:

The Fly Quilt

Fly quilt

Fly quilt!

The conference I’m attending is being held at the NC Arboretum.  It is a spectacular place, absolutely stunning, and I’m thrilled to have been able to come here.  In their education center they have several nature quilts displayed on the walls.  The one above was my favorite, for obvious reasons.  I loved the fly quilt!  Makes me want to go home and make one of my own, though I can tell you based on my last quilt making experience that mine wouldn’t look nearly as good.

Meeting a National Geographic Photographer

Kevin FitzPatrick

Kevin FitzPatrick

I attended a full day, pre-conference workshop on citizen science today and it was a lot of fun!  The workshop was about using bioblitzes (biological surveys, often quite thorough, of specific places over short periods of time) as a means of getting people involved in science and was led National Geographic photographer, Kevin FitzPatrick.  Apart from the fact I thought it was odd to see a photographer leading a citizen science workshop, I really enjoyed talking to him. In addition to photographing the National Geographic BioBlitzes (hence his interest in citizen science), he is also a contributor to Meet Your Neighbors.  If you don’t know what Meet Your Neighbors is, click on the link and take a look at a few of the images in the gallery.  Go on, I’ll wait…   What did you think?  Me, I love the look of the photos on Meet Your Neighbors, and I have always wanted to see how the photographers involved take their photos because they’re taking those shots in the field!  Today, I got to see exactly how to do them.  In the image above, Kevin was photographing a rat snake on his setup before we broke for lunch.  After lunch, we took his funky light table into the field while we looked for reptiles and amphibians under the Arboretum’s cover boards and sloshed around in Bent Creek looking for insects.  Guess which part of that activity I especially loved?  If you guessed…

Sloshing Around in Bent Creek

Aquatic insects from Bent Creek

Aquatic insects from Bent Creek

… you were right!  I haven’t gotten a chance to do much exploring of the aquatic insect fauna of the state so far, and definitely not in the mountains.  The creek wasn’t very deep (I could ALMOST walk across in my high top waterproof hiking boots without overtopping them), but we found some aquatic invertebrates that I, as a former Arizonan, thought were pretty amazing.  We found lots of stoneflies, snails, salamanders (not inverts, but super cool!), crayfish, mayflies, caddisflies, true bugs, dragonflies, and two types of beetles, including water pennies.  A pretty good haul, but my very favorite was…

This!

Giant stonefly, genus Pteronarcys

Giant stonefly nymph, genus Pteronarcys

Giant stonefly, genus Pteronarcys!  I’ve only ever seen a specimen in a vial after it had lain dead for several years, so seeing one alive and in the wild was pretty awesome.  While I would have been happy with the things we found even without the giant stonefly nymph, it  made my day!  Wow, that thing was amazing.  I’ve been itching to go see what else I can find in the stream since. Might need to go back down before I leave on Sunday…

BIG Argiope!

Black and yellow argiope, Argiope aurantia

Black and yellow argiope, Argiope aurantia

After competing in the conference Wild-a-Thon (a mini-bioblitz of sorts) with another woman at the conference, I wandered the grounds with a couple of people from my workshop to kill some time before dinner.  We were admiring the ornamental grasses in one section of the garden when I saw the spider above. That thing was HUGE!  To get my camera to focus, I had to slide my hand behind the spider, which helped convince me that nearly all traces of my childhood fear of spiders is now gone.  I’ve been reminded of that fear of spiders several times recently, so I am feeling pretty good about all but putting my hand on this enormous orb weaver to get a shot of it.  The worst part: the background is SO busy, it’s still not a very good shot.  Regardless, a gorgeous animal and I’m glad I saw it!

Tomorrow I’m headed to several presentations about citizen science and a swanky dinner at a local museum before my presentation on Sunday.  I’m hoping the rest of the conference is as good as today!

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

Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: Letter to a Spider

Dear Spider Who Builds Its Web Across the Door to My Backyard,

You are lucky that I’m an entomologist.  Most people, after running face first into your terribly inconveniently placed web in the dark, probably wouldn’t have just backed away and looked to see where you were.  While I will admit that I was quite happy to learn that you weren’t in my hair, nearly any other person probably would have tried to kill you after discovering you lurking up near the roof.  Instead, I took down one little support from your web and squeezed out the door around the rest, leaving you be.  I was sorry to see that you were back tonight, even though by now you should know better than to build your web across the back door.  Don’t you know that large mammals walk often through that area?  I did snap a few photos, true, and flashed bright lights in your eyes, but look how cute you look:

spider on web

That was worth a few bright lights, right?

Please note that continued web construction across the only rear exit from my house may result in relocation to the front of the house.  There, you will have to compete with other spider of your kind who has been building a web across the walkway to the front door.

Sincerely,
The Dragonfly Woman

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

Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: New Toys!

I mentioned in the post I wrote just before my recent trip to California that I had gotten some new toys: new cameras.  Most excitingly, I have long coveted the Canon MP-E 65 lens, so I bought myself my first Canon DSLR!  I couldn’t be happier with that purchase.  I knew the lens would have a bit of a learning curve as it doesn’t have a focusing ring, but I LOVE the lens!  You’ll be seeing a lot more photos taken with that camera, I’m sure, but this is one of my favorites from my very first Canon DLSR shoot:

Green lynx spider

Green lynx spider

That’s a green lynx spider sitting on one of the black-eyed susans that’s awaiting planting in my native plant bed.  I can already tell that I am going to get a LOT of use out of my new toy.  :)

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

Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: Leggy

When I went to Bug Shot in August, I came across dozens of different spiders.  I almost walked into the web of this one, and caught sight of it just before I ended up with a spider on my face:

Spider

Spider

Now I’m not entirely sure how I would respond to having a spider on my face, but I used to be really scared of spiders when I was a kid (I had recurring nightmares about them being in my bed!) and I suspect that would come pouring back out if face-spider contact had occurred.  Thankfully, I noticed it in time and snapped a few shots of this beauty rather than screaming like a little girl and making a total idiot out of myself in front of all the other bug lovers at Bug Shot. :)

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

Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: Cryptic

It’s winter, and I now live in a place where it actually gets rather cold at night.  That unfortunately means that I don’t have my usual access to mid-winter insects and I can no longer make you all jealous that we still have bugs out and about.  But, I do have a nice stockpile of shots I took at BugShot 2012 that I haven’t shared yet!  While I anxiously await spring and the return of pretty flowers and insects to photograph, I bring you bugs and other arthropods from Florida!

Every time I look through my BugShot photos, I see new creatures I didn’t realize I’d photographed.  For example, I took this photo thinking I was photographing a group of flowers.  Somehow, I completely missed the giant yellow crab spider:

Crab spider on flowers

Crab spider on flowers

It was dark out, but wow!  For such a big spider, it sure did blend in well!

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

Happy Holidays from DW!

Happy holidays everyone!  I hope this post finds you well, with people you love, and happy.  And because I love to put Santa hats on insects and spiders, I give you this year’s santified arthropod, Saltie Santa:

Santa saltie

Santified is a word, right?  :)

Enjoy your day, wherever you may be!

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

Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: Halloween Decor

I think spiders have a bad rep, especially on Halloween, but I’m jumping on the bandwagon and bring you a “creepy spider” for the holiday:

Halloween

Spider for Halloween

Spider webs are just so cool!  I don’t enjoy having spiders on me (few people do!), but I really appreciate their mad homebuilding skills and engineering marvels.

Happy Halloween everyone!

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