Friday Favorites: On Moths and Woolly Bears

Wow.  I posted last week, but it didn’t ever go online – and I didn’t even notice.  My very first Friday Favorites is a week LATE – darn you WordPress!!  I’ll actually post that real first one some other time, but in the meantime, here are some of my favorite buggy things from last week!


I’ve got a friend named Margaret Zinser who is a glass artist.  Before she was a glass artist, however, she was an entomology grad student with me – when I first met her, she was just starting to get really into making glass beads.  When she finished her master’s degree, she decided to become an artist full time, and she’s been super successful.  She’s built up an amazing reputation for herself and her work currently fetches what I consider incredible prices, but I’m also happy she’s doing so well doing something she loves even if I can no longer afford her artwork.  Over the last couple of years, however, she’s been tempting me badly by blending her deeply rooted interest in insects with her skill at lampworking to create some spectacular glass insect beads.  A few weeks ago, she posted a photo of a collection of moth beads she had just created:

Moth beads by Margaret Zinser

Moth beads by Margaret Zinser

I fell in love with the bead at the top right, the brown and red moth, so I bought it.  It was quite a splurge for me, but boy do I love it!  It’s huge and a sort of subdued blingy, but it also works very well with the “naturalist chic” look I usually go for.  I’ve worn it every day since it arrived.  :)


Yesterday I was out with a coworker taking a walk during a short break and I was very surprised to look down and see this walking quickly across the grass:

Woolly bear

Woolly bear

Though this is not the only insect I’ve seen this week (Asian multicolored ladybugs and brown marmorated stink bugs were the others – and they were crawling around in the light fixture above my desk at work), this woolly bear was the most surprising.  It’s been quite cold recently.  There was one day, during the arctic vortex, that the high was in the low 20’s, which is about as cold as it ever gets here.  And here was this big caterpillar, out wandering around on a chilly (though not frigid) day like it was just any other mild day.  How strange!  I really didn’t expect to see it, but I was happy I did.  According to this woolly bear, if you believe the legends (the less black, the milder the winter), we’re supposed to have a moderate winter.  Ha!  Frozen pipes and below-record temps don’t scream “moderate” to me…

Favorite Insect Gift

I really enjoy my office mate.  She’s a smart woman and fun to be around, and she “gets” me in a way that few people ever truly do.  On Thursday, she told me she had a present for me, and Friday she presented me with the gift: two rat tailed maggots!  I haven’t ever seen a live one, but I have REALLY wanted to for years.  She knew that, so when she cleaned out her little pond at home and found two of them, she brought them to me.  I may have squealed like a little girl just a bit when I saw them!  Sadly, by the time I got home, one had perished and the other one had somehow managed to ooze its way out of the small hole in the lid of the container it was in, so the truly cruddy iPhone photos I took of them at work are the best I have:

Rat Tailed Maggot

Rat Tailed Maggot

I have NO idea where that maggot ended up.  I’m hoping it’s not in my house. My husband will probably divorce me if he finds a dead rat tailed maggot on the floor…

Coolest Natural History Event

One of my online friends sends me great photos and links to other cool aquatic insect things she discovers now and again.  I love getting her e mails!  One she sent recently directed me to a blog post by Chris Helzer, a scientist, land manager, and blogger from Nebraska, about aquatic insects he had found frozen in ice.  It was completely fascinating! I seriously doubt it will ever get cold enough for me to see the sort of thing he witnessed here in North Carolina, but check this out:

Frozen water boatman

Frozen water boatman. Photo by Chris Helzer, used with permission.

That’s a water boatman, frozen in the ice!  Now that’s just cool, literally and figuratively.  I encourage you to read the rest of the post because the photos are great and it highlights an interesting natural history phenomenon, though the whole blog is quite good.  I ended up poking around and reading random posts for about an hour last night, which was enough to convince me that I should become a follower.  Now I can learn all about prairies in Nebraska, which, considering I work at a prairie in North Carolina, might actually be useful for work as well as satisfying my natural curiosity about the world.

Well, so far these posts have been a bit less scientific than I’d expected to make them, but maybe that’s okay.  I just need to get back into posting the more scientific posts as well, to balance out the cultural entomology and “fluff” that I seem inclined to post on Fridays.  We’ll see how it works out!  In the meantime, anyone want to share some cool insect-related thing they experienced this week? I welcome links to blog posts, stories, anything you want to share – in the comments below!


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