Monday, May 5, 2014

The Insects of Yellowstone

I had the great pleasure of spotting quite a bunch of interesting insects on one of my Yellowstone trips.  One of the reasons I enjoy visiting the park is the abundance and variety of insect life.  Below is a small sample of some of the smaller creatures that call the park their home.

Acraea Moth Caterpillar


Bee on my camera bag

Plant Bug on the car

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Reptile Discovery Center at the Smithsonian National Zoo

We recently visited DC. I've never been, so it was all new to me. One of my favorite spots from the trip was the Reptile Discovery Center at the Smithsonian National Zoo. I especially loved all the different carvings on the outside of the building. The turtle holding up the post is my favorite. Simply because I know that some cultures believe that a turtle holds up the world. Just strikes me as a cool idea. In general, I love the detail on these carvings. To me it makes for very interesting architecture.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Total Annihilation

The egg clutch below belongs to stink bugs. I found this out by doing some research online. I even found some great photos of stinkbug hatchlings. They are the cutest little things. You can see some at the following link Stink Bug Hatchlings

If you scroll to the second and third photo you will notice the bug on the egg clutch looks nothing like a stink bug or stink bug hatchling. In fact, like me, you may think what a cute tiny bee. You'd be getting closer. I had to do a whole lot of research to figure out why my egg clutch appeared to be hatching bees. (I didn't think bees came from eggs per se - not ones sitting on a screen door anyway.) My first hypothesis was I had a predator who was eating the nymphs as soon as they hatched. Warm, but not hot. The mystery was still unsolved.

Then it hit me why not search for stink bug predators. I didn't have a cute bee. I had a cute wasp. In specific, Trissolcus sp. wasp. Some of these tiny stingless wasps have been introduced on purpose and some appear to be native to the southern US. I wasn't looking at predation, but rather a form of parasitism. These little wasps lay their eggs inside the stink bug eggs and then their larvae hatch first and eat the stink bug larvae. Not really a pleasant thought unless you are fruit growers looking for something to control pests. Then it's a pretty nifty solution. The benefits of Trissolcus wasps.

I'm not sure how I feel about this because from my point of view I was robbed of cute stink bug nymphs. Which, if they were going to eat all my trees, then I guess I would be a bit relieved and thankful for the event. However, if they were going to eat other pests, I'm sad. (Most stink bugs are plant pests, but some are very good at hunting other insect pests.) Not which to mention, this was a total annihilation. There were about six egg clutches on our screen door to the porch. There were two more by our front door. Not one egg out of 112 hatched a stink bug that I can tell. Maybe it's wrong, but that makes me a bit sad.

It's hard to say how it would have played out. And perhaps if things had been different, and my trees or lilacs had been completely mowed down, I'd have wanted a visit from predators. It beats pesticide any day.

I do try to see the silver lining. In this case, I have a cool story to tell. And I have another "nest" for my nests of stinging insects collection. (Although I guess technically this species doesn't sting. But it's still a wasp!)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Never to Return Home

I realize I've been gone awhile and I wish I had some awesome excuse, but I don't. I have a handful of adventures and one very sad event. In September, I lost my father. He was 92, so he lived a very long life, but he is missed by many. I thought I would put together a blog post in honor of the man who raised me.

Dad's Memorial Folder

Golf Themed Casket Spray

Memorial Table

Casket in Hearse

Final Salute

Flag with Sunflower

My Father’s Eulogy

 My Dad once said, “You’ve seen one rock, you’ve seen them all.” He was talking about the Rocky Mountains. My Dad did not realize how wrong he was. I have always known that not all rocks are alike. I just wish he’d known that, too. You see he was my rock. And there isn’t another one like him.

How can I begin to explain? When I was born, he ignored advice to fence in the back yard. Thank You! Now the whole world is my backyard and the outdoors my playground. He let me experience life and was right there along with me. Feeding me an ice cream cone. Teaching me to ride a bike. Kissing my skinned knee. He read to me, a lot. He made me read to him. Showed me whole new worlds opened up with the power of imagination. Showed to all of my violin concerts. He was a fiddle man. Enough said. Remained constant and calm throughout my teenage years. Not an easy task. Gave me a great gift of roots and a strong foundation through 46 years of marriage to my Mom. Put up with more crazy antics in my 20s. The moves to Denver. Keeping my dog when I studied in London. I think my Dad must have been relived when I settled down. Most recently he blessed Chris and I with his respect. He told Chris thank you for taking such good care of his daughter.

My Dad was my rock and this allowed me to grow roots, but it also allowed me to branch out into the world. To start my own life and to lay down a solid foundation of my own.

In closing, I would like to sing the last verse of Tori Amos’ Winter. It speaks for me when I can not…

Hair is gray and the fires are burning
So many dreams on the shelf
You say I wanted you to be proud of me
I always wanted that myself
When you gonna make up your mind
When you gonna love you as much as I do
When you gonna make up your mind
Cause things are gonna change so fast
All the white horses have gone ahead
I tell you that I’ll always want you near
You say that things change my dear
Never Change
All the White horses

I hope you never doubted I was proud of you Dad. Thank you for being my rock.

Maple in the Back Yard

Monday, July 29, 2013

Pine Creek Falls

Earlier this summer I had the pleasure of hiking The Pine Creek Falls Trailhead. This is another waterfall that you can get fairly close to. These are quite spectacular falls, too. When I went, we had just finished a very rainy spring, so the falls were running at full capacity. I enjoyed being able to get close to such raw awesome power. The shot below is a small side rivlet and just a small taste of what the main falls looked like.

Western Blue Virginsbower

Into the Forest

Pine Creek Falls - Macro

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Monday, June 17, 2013

Sertoma Butterfly House

Located in Sioux City, South Dakota Sertoma Butterfly House and Marine Cove is definitely worth the visit if you're ever in the area. We had the good fortune of discovering this little gem mainly due to the fact that we can no longer drive from Montana to Iowa in two days, so we split it into three. Our second leg took us to Sioux City where we stayed for a day. My husband was looking for things to do and found this spot online. Needless to say I was very excited, and I was not disappointed. The butterflies are everywhere in various shapes, sizes and colors. I didn't stand a chance of being able to identify them all. The staff is very friendly and more than happy to answer questions. We even had a few butterflies land on us while we were there. I will definitely be returning to this magical place during future trips.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Beetle and A Bull Snake

We recently decided to hit eastern Montana in an attempt to finish the Dino Trail. We weren't quite successful, but that's another blog post. Since driving out there takes as long as it does to drive to Rapid City, South Dakota (Wish I were kidding.), we decided to drop by Makoshika State Park. Located in the badlands of Montana, the environment for this park is equivalent to a desert. Perfect for growing things like cacti and rock outcrops. OK, so maybe the later isn't so much grown as it is carved. Not only does this make for some stunning scenery, it also makes for a change of pace. While, another one of my favorite places, Buffalo Jump State Park, also has a desert environment the two places are more like cousins than twins. This meant a whole bunch of new critters for me to photograph. Two of the most interesting were a beetle, my husband spotted and a bull snake we almost tripped over. I would love to go back some time and just go hiking here. I didn't have nearly enough time to explore this wonderous place on this trip.

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