Plague of Midges (Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday)

Last weekend I went to an environmental education conference.  Apparently there had been a mass emergence of midges shortly before we arrived because the whole place looked like this:

Masses of Midges

Masses of midges

So, SO many midges!  On the other hand, the massive all you can eat buffet of flies made for some good reptile and amphibian sightings.  I got to watch a green tree frog sitting under a light absolutely gorging himself, which was awfully cute.  There were more spiders out and about than I’d ever seen too.  Pretty darned cool!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth
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Swarm Sunday (on Monday): 9/20/15 – 9/26/15

Dragonfly Swarm Project logo

Thanks to attending a conference with very limited internet connection this weekend, this is a day late.  However, we’re transitioning into fall, so the swarm activity is way down this week – not a lot to report anyway!  Swarms were reported from the following locations in the last week:

USA:

Phoenix, AZ
Panama City Beach, FL
Port St. Joe, FL
Sarasota, FL
St. Petersburg, FL
Blackshear, GA
Council Grove, KS
Kansas City, KS
Ludington, MI
Kansas City, MO
Fort Worth, TX

Here is the US map for last week:

 

9.20.15 to 9.26.15

Click the map to enlarge!

A bit of an odd arrangement of reports this week!  A few in the south, where I’d expect them to be, but there is still a small amount of activity in the upper and central Midwest.  Odd!  Still no migration in the western US this year, which seems to fit well with the limited migratory reports in the east overall.  With some definite exceptions, cities that had huge migratory events, there hasn’t been a whole lot of movement reported this year.  Very interesting.

I suspect the season is almost over and that I’ll only get a few reports this week.  Hope you’ll take a moment to submit a report if you see a swarm!  Anything this late in the year is exciting.

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Have you seen a dragonfly swarm? I am tracking swarms so I can learn more about this interesting behavior.  If you see one, I’d love to hear from you!  Please visit my Report a Dragonfly Swarm page to fill out the official report form.  It only takes a few minutes! Thanks!

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Want more information? Visit my dragonfly swarm information page for my entire collection of posts about dragonfly swarms!

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

The Smudge on the Wall (Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday)

I’ve been seeing this little brown smudge on the side of my house when I’ve gone out to check my blacklight recently.  I thought it was just some crud on my siding, maybe a stain.  I caught it out of the corner of my eye tonight and noticed it was a completely different color – AND it was moving!  Had to stand on my toes, reach my camera up as far as I could, and hope for the best with the focus since this lens doesn’t autofocus.  This is what I captured:

Caterpillars

Caterpillars

Turns out that the little “stain” was actually a cluster of moth eggs!  Lots of little caterpillars are running about on my wall tonight.

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

Swarm Sunday: 9/13/15 – 9/19/15

Dragonfly Swarm Project logo

Well, things have definitely slowed down!  After a big, bright burst of swarming activity over the last three weeks, we’re suddenly headed into fall.  Swarms were reported in the following locations over the last week:

USA:

Marco Island, FL
Santa Rosa Beach, FL
Hamburg, IA
Hillsboro, IL
Parkton, MD
Silver Spring, MD
North Topsail, NC (2 swarms)
Oak Island, NC
Pine Knoll Shores, NC
Surf City, NC (2 swarms)
Topsail Beach, NC
Alpine, NJ
Cherry Hill, NJ
Somerdale, NJ
College Point, NY
New York, NY
Mustang, OK
Hawley, PA
Lehighton, PA
West Chester, PA

Here is the US map for last week:

9.13.15 to 9.19.15

 

 

 

Click the map to enlarge!

 

Still not a lot of migratory action being reported, but last week there was a significant migratory movement in my own state of North Carolina.  I heard about this migration through my project, via e mails, and some people even came to tell me all about it after a talk I gave on dragonflies at the museum where I work yesterday.  Otherwise, it was a pretty quiet week!  Little bit of activity along coastal New England, but very little inland.

I’ve gotten over 700 swarm reports so far this year!  Hoping I’ll end up with 800+, which would make this a pretty good year for swarming dragonflies overall.  Keep sending in reports as you see swarms!

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Have you seen a dragonfly swarm? I am tracking swarms so I can learn more about this interesting behavior.  If you see one, I’d love to hear from you!  Please visit my Report a Dragonfly Swarm page to fill out the official report form.  It only takes a few minutes! Thanks!

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Want more information? Visit my dragonfly swarm information page for my entire collection of posts about dragonfly swarms!

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

Heads Up – New Project Starting on Monday and YOU Can Get Involved!

As many of you probably know, I work for a natural history museum in North Carolina and my job focuses on getting people involved in citizen science efforts.  My museum is part of a really fun collaborative project called Remix, Remake, Curate that brings together museum-based science and the arts (writing especially).  It encourages participants (especially K-12 students) to get involved in fun, hands-on science activities and write creatively about their experiences.  We’re partnered with the Tar River Writing Project and the Poetry Project, so our particular project has students learning about science through a variety of activities and then writing/performing poetry based on what they learned.  Participants then share their results – scientific and written – through scheduled Twitter chats and Google Hangouts and post their poems and photos from their scientific explorations on the Google+ community.  The project is offered in a massive open online course format, so anyone anywhere can get involved!  You don’t even have to be a kid to take part.

Prodaticus bimarginatus

Predaceous diving beetle at a light at night

Why should you care?  Because year 2 of the project starts on Monday and my team created a fun insect-themed activity focused on nighttime insects!  Over the next two weeks, we’re encouraging people to go outside at night, look at lights, and record observations about the insects they see.  I’ve created a simple guide to porch light insects to help people identify their critters and a datasheet for recording observations.  (Both are now available on the Educational Materials page!)   After making some observations of nighttime insects, we are encouraging participants to write a two-voice poem based on their experience and share the results (whether the poem itself or a video recording of two people performing the poem) on our Google+ community.  At the end of our two weeks, we will have built a huge collection of insect photos, datasheets with awesome insect drawings, artwork, insect poetry, and other insect awesomeness that everyone will be able to see online.  I think it’s going to be a lot of fun!

Plume moth G12

Plume moth

Want to get involved?  You can participate in a variety of different ways!  If you’re an educator, consider following along with your class.  Most of the people developing the activities for this activity are language or visual arts teachers and the activities are built for teachers to use in their classrooms.  We’d love to have you join in.  If you would simply like to participate in the project on your own, please do!  Even if you’re not a K-12 student or a teacher, we’d still love to see some of your porch light insect photos, poems, etc.  And, if you want to really make a kid’s day, you could also visit our Google+ community page over the next few weeks and comment on poems submitted by participants.  Last year, the kids who participated told their teachers that one of the best things about the project was the feedback they got from strangers, knowing that people out there were actually reading the things they had created.  I don’t expect any of you to become poetry trolls, but it’s worth saying that we hope that commenters will be kind.  Most of the participants are kids, after all!

Hebrew

Hebrew

I am planning to blacklight in my backyard each night next week and write a whole bunch of poems for the project.  I’ll likely post some of them here, so if you see my blog invaded by poetry, that’s why!  And just to get you in the mood, I thought I’d share a poem today.  The woman who administers Remix, Remake, Curate,  Stephanie West-Puckett (an instructor at Eastern Carolina University), attended the Educator Open House at my museum last week to drum up interest in the project.  She had the teachers who visited her station do a blackout poem, a type of poem where you take a piece of text and then black out all of the words that will not eventually become a part of the poem.  She chose my recent post about antlions as the text, so I’ll leave you with an antlion blackout poem.

Hope to see a few of you join the project starting Monday!

Going, Going, Gone
A Blackout Poem Created by North Carolina Teachers

Entomologist.
Prairie Ridge antlions at work
moving about.  There are hoards.
Hoards!!

For a moment, digging.
Abdomen, thorax, head.
Disappeared.
Mouth-parts for a moment.
Antlion.

Like the Sarlaccc in Star,
Sci-fi lover.  Antlion pits.
Little craters. Monster.
Rawwr!

Predators wait.
Unsuspecting victims slip into the cone-shaped pits,
Tumble to the bottom.
Loose sand.
Down.

Whole larva swallowed by the sand,
Cone-shaped pit, sand all over the place.
Lurking.

Hapless ant, it’s next meal.
Antlions are crazy cool.
Larvae, they roll.  Ball.
Damselfly-like antlion. Same species.
Ant.

As that antlion lying in wait,
Jaws poised,
Just below the surface,
Hidden.
Sight. Life. Over.

Series of photos, re-burying itself.
Larvae crawl backwards,
Butt first, bewildered.
Larvae hooked the easiest
Misidentification pet.
Feel.

Repeating, burying itself.
Pit.  Lurks beneath surface.
Nightmares…

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

Photobomber (Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday)

A couple of weekends ago, I went to the mountains of North Carolina to look for hellbenders.  For those of you unfamiliar with these magnificent creatures, they’re HUGE salamanders, as in foot-long salamanders!  I learned they lived in NC shortly after I moved here and wanted to see them in the wild, so I finally went to look for them.  Saw one too!  SO exciting.

Knowing I was going to be hanging around mountain rivers for two days, I brought along one of my little glass aquaria so I could get some aquatic insects-in-water shots.  I was having troubles with silty water and streaks on the outside of the container while attempting to photograph a juvenile green frog and was getting frustrated.  I had finally lined up what I expected to be a decent shot, when this happened:

Green frog with photobombing stonefly

Green frog with photobombing stonefly

A stonefly totally photobombed the frog! Gah!  The frog jerked and stirred everything up again, so I never did get a good photo of my frog.    Thanks a lot, stonefly…

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

Winner of Edible!

Last week, I held a giveaway for a copy of the book Edible by Daniella Martin.  The book covers the world of edible insects and the increasing role that insects may play in the future (and perhaps not so distant) human diet worldwide.  There’s also a section on edible insect varieties and some recipes so you can try your hand at edible insect cookery.  It’s a great book, and to those of you who didn’t win, I would highly recommend that you buy a copy or check it out at your local library.  It’s a really fun book and well worth the read.

The winner, chosen by a random number generator from all the entries, is becomingcliche!  I’ll e mail you to get your address so I can mail you the book.  Hope you enjoy it!

Thanks to everyone who shared the insect dishes they’ve tried or the reasons why they haven’t yet sampled insects intentionally.  I love reading about what people have tried or want to try and I’m always fascinated by the many excuses people have for not eating insects.  Confession: I am not an insect eater myself.  The texture just doesn’t work for me at all.  Texture drives most of my food choices (and makes me largely vegetarian – I am SO squeamish about meat textures!), and the insects I’ve tried so far sadly don’t have the right sort of texture.  However, eating insects is healthy, more sustainable than most other meat production, and could become a hugely important part of our diet in my lifetime.  I want to keep trying bugs, so I am planning to get some cricket flour sometime and bake with it, just to see how it goes.  Cricket flour eliminates the textural issues I have with whole crickets and who can resist a delicious cookie or cake?  And dry roasted big butt ants are still high on my list of things I want to try if I ever get my hands on them.  Someday…

Been super busy again recently, but I hope to get some more blogging done this week. And if anyone happens to be in the Raleigh, NC area this Saturday, I’ll be at NC Museum of Natural Sciences’ BugFest in the afternoon!  Check out the posters made by the kids participating in my Dragonfly Detectives project in the Citizen Science Center on the first floor of the Nature Research Center – they’re doing a phenomenal job!  I’ll also be giving a talk on dragonflies at 3PM in the Windows on the World on the 3rd floor of the Nature Exploration Center.  BugFest is awesome!  Even if you don’t come see me, it’s WELL worth the trip.

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