I see these fairly often but this is the first time I’ve gotten a decent picture of one. This is on the tiny red flowers of painter’s palette (Persicaria virginiana) in our back yard. it’s also one of the first good pictures I’ve taken of these little flowers, now that I think about it. They really are small but add a red haze over the variegated foliage.
Monthly Archives: September 2012
Dorothy wanted to go to Ikea to pick out a bookcase this evening. She’s finished painting her room and is ready to move back in so we decided a bookcase was a reasonable request. Off we went. We did find a bookcase and Dorothy picked out a mirror but the mirror was out of stock.
I brought my camera, as I do much of the time now and found that Ikea is a great place to look for patterns.
Cathy found this little thing (it is about 5.5 mm long) crawling on our kitchen counter. I didn’t recognize it so I figured I should take its picture. I convinced it to crawl up onto a piece of paper and then put it in the freezer. I sort of wish I had known what it was, though, and put it outside. This is the larva of a lacewing and one of the most voracious aphid eaters around. So, if you find a little think that looks like this, don’t freak out. Carefully move it to your garden and be glad.
There isn’t a lot that can be said about this picture other than it’s so nice that Dorothy has such great friends. Since there isn’t a lot else to say, I won’t say a lot else.
I almost didn’t take any pictures today but when I realized that, I quickly shot a few of clouds. Sorry, not really much to look at but they were actually kind of pretty in real life. I did also take some dashboard-cam pictures later but none of them are worth much so you’re stuck with clouds.
The kousa dogwood is a nice alternative to our native flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) for a number of reasons. One is that it is less susceptible to dogwood anthracnose (Discula destructiva). On the other hand, it flowers later and there are not as many good pink flowered varieties. When it comes to fruit, I think the kousa wins, though. This is a tree in our neighborhood and it is absolutely covered with fruit. I marvel at it every time I drive by. The fruit are edible, by the way, in case you are in the woods and need something nutritious and don’t care if it has no real flavour.
Across the street from the kousa dogwood in yesterday’s post there is a large buddleia hedge. I couldn’t resist stopping to take pictures. In addition to this female monarch (I guess that makes it a queen?), there were eastern tiger swallowtails (Papilio glaucus) and a huge number of Painted Ladies (Vanessa cardui. This monarch only flashed her wings at me once when I was ready. All the other pictures show the underside of her folded wings.
When I got home from work today I noticed this bundle of freshly sharpened colored pencils. They were sitting on the dining room table with the afternoon sun shining in on them and making the colors bright.
I went out this morning to take some pictures of a mushroom in my back yard. It had fallen over and that gave me a nice easy view of the gills on the underside of the cap. So, I’m lying in the wet grass with mosquitoes buzzing in my ears when I notice that one has landed on the mushroom. So, I took a few of that. Later I’ll post one of just the mushroom.
Did you know that there are some 3500 species of mosquito worldwide? Also, both male and female adults feed on nectar and plant juices but it is only the females that feed on blood because a blood meal is usually required for development of eggs. How about this: Carbon dioxide, expelled in the breath of animals, attracts female mosquitoes that are looking for a blood meal. They detect carbon dioxide in the air and travel upwind to the source. So, want to stop attracting mosquitoes? Then stop breathing. Mosquito facts taken from BugGuide.net.
As promised in my last post, here is another photo of the mushroom in my back yard, without any flying menace distracting from the fungal beauty. The mushroom appeared a few days ago and this morning it was lying on its side, exposing the gills on the underside.
Despite the significant storm that rolled through just before 4:00 PM today, the school picnic went on as planned. It was mostly indoors but our spirits were not dampened. As expected, I took a few pictures, including this one of Dorothy (on the right) with some of her senior friends (from the left), Hannah, Lauren, Michelle, Michael, Libby, and Abigail.
After the heavy rain yesterday the weather has turned beautiful. It’s clear and cool and the humidity is much lower than it’s been. I went out twice to take pictures of the varied insects in the back yard and was able to work in the sun without being uncomfortable for the first time in months.
I was also rewarded with some new insect photos. First, there were two species of flies in the genus Trichopoda. The one shown here is Trichopoda pennipes and the other is Trichopoda plumipes, which has more black with a yellow pattern on its abdomen. The genus Trichopoda are known as the feather-legged flies because they have feather like brushes on their rear pair of legs. You can’t see them in this photograph but I got a few other views from behind where they show up quite nicely.
Back in June I posted a picture titled A Little Green Fly. At the time I identified that fly as Condylostylus sipho. The one pictured here may be the same species or it may be one of the other very similar species in the genus Condylostylus. Either way, it’s a pretty little thing.
P Brown commented that she wanted to write a poem to that one and on Facebook she did but I never got around to posting it here. So, in memory of that last little green fly and in honor of this new one, here is P Brown’s poem:
Ode To A Little Green Fly —
Have you come to snare the dancing honey bee,
You clothed in shimmering green among the Asclepias tuberosa?
Vascular threads forming a highway for thee,
And there long-legged on a leaf, you did pose.
Do I see you waving to a passing fly,
Displaying spindly legs, yet firmly built?
Perhaps to entice sipha for a brilliant mate,
Your short life to defy.
And now Henry has without any guilt,
Captured on facebook, your eternal fate.
Next we have a fairly common butterfly but one I haven’t got a good picture of, as far as I know. It is the red-banded hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops). It didn’t fly off when I got close, as they often do, but it was not making itself easy to photograph. For the most part it would turn away from me so all I could see was the trailing edges of its wings. I finally got a few from the side that I was reasonably happy with.
Finally, we have a northern paper wasp (Polistes fuscatus). In general I wouldn’t consider these to be particularly friendly creatures but this one was pretty oblivious to my presence. I aimed the camera straight down on the tripod and got a pretty descent view of it from above. The light kept coming and going as the taller plants were blowing in the wind but otherwise, this one was easy to photograph.
I also got pictures of a yellow-collared scape moth (Cisseps fulvicollis), a wasp called Isodontia apicalis, and a few assorted and only tenuously identified flies. All in all, an enjoyable little time out back.
What beautiful weather we’re having. Today the high temperature barely reached 80°F. The sky was extra blue and was filled with fluffy white clouds, fair weather cumulus. This was taken while sitting at a traffic light on the way home from work.
I know everyone is going to be shocked when the learn that I took insect pictures today. Me and insects? Really? Well, I think this is one of the coolest wasps I’ve seen in a while. It’s wearing woolies on its tail end. It is a blue-winged wasp (Scolia dubia) and it’s a big one, over two centimeters long. Males have longer antennae and though I don’t have anything to compare them to, I’m guessing this is a female.
In general I’m not a fan of flies. Some of them are quite pretty, I know and of course they have their part to play in the natural order of things. Still, it’s hard to think of the common house fly and similar critters as anything other than disease carrying vermin. Close up, I guess, they are beautiful in a sinister sort of way. This is actually a fairly distant cousin of the house fly (Musca domestica) which is in a different superfamily of the Calyptratae. Yes, I know, whatever.
Back on July 5 of this year I posted a photo of Iris domestica in bloom. This is the same plant after it’s gone to seed. The seeds look (if you don’t look to carefully) like huge blackberries, which gives the plant its common name, blackberry lily. I think they’re as pretty, if not as colorful, as the flowers. In a few weeks I’ll pull these off and spread them around the garden in the hope that I’ll have more in years to come.
We’ve had this in our kitchen for a few years now and this is only the second time it’s bloomed. It seemed happy enough but we decided to move it out int the back yard for the summer. We found a mostly shady spot for it, since full sun burns the leaves, and it’s very happy and decided to thank us by blooming. As you can see, the flowers are very bright and cheerful. You’re welcome.
With Dorothy away for the weekend, Cathy and I decided to have a nice dinner together. We sort of skipped doing anything for our anniversary last month so let’s say this was for that. We went to a little Italian place in Olney named Al Sospiro Trattoria. It’s a little on the pricey side but the food was excellent. I mean, really, really good. After mussels as an appetizer, I had this pork loin wrapped in bacon and served with sautéd mushrooms. It was about as good as it gets.
We got a text last night from our friend, Jean, saying her daughter, our god-daughter, Lexi, was going to be running in a cross country meet this morning not too far from us. Cathy had a soccer game so she couldn’t go but I did and saw Lexi run. She did a good job and improved her time but considerable. I was also happy to see our good friend Amy and was able to cheer on her son, Jon, who finished in eighth place in the boys race. This picture is of Lexi (on the right) and her friend, Maydot (I’m not sure of the spelling).
Cathy and I went to Johnson’s Garden Center west of Olney early this afternoon. Cathy wanted to buy a few more asters for her mom’s front garden. There were a lot of asters (polyaster?) and mums, as is normal this time of year and I carried my camera around and took a few pictures. I like this orange mum, which is a nice autumnal orange. We also looked at hydrangeas but didn’t actually buy any.
I dropped our van off at the mechanic’s today and while I was waiting to be picked up I took a few pictures, including this one of the carrier and ring gear for a Dodge pickup rear differential.
I went to Lowe’s at lunch time today to pick up a few things and decided to go into Whole Foods to grab a few (other) things since I was right there. Whole Foods prices are high and they aren’t really very convenient to where we live. One of the only reasons I ever made the effort was to buy proper, dry cured bacon. Naturally I’d buy a cartload of things while I was there but it was the bacon (and cheese) that got me there. Giant and Safeway (and Shopper’s and Harris Teeter) only carry brine cured bacon, which is fine, but I prefer a good, thick cut, dry cured bacon.
Well, it turns out Whole Foods doesn’t carry bacon any more. In fact, they don’t seem to carry any bacon, dry or wet cured. They have something oxymoronically called “uncured bacon” which is basically sliced pork belly (except much of what they have isn’t even pork!). There was a time when they had a better selection of cheeses, as well, but that’s no longer true, either. So, there is now no reason for me to go out of my way to Whole Foods.
Since I was there and since it was lunch time, I bought a pack of sushi for my lunch. As I got back to work it started to rain very heavily. I decided to run into the building and got soaked for my trouble. I had a nice relaxing lunch, although my clothes were a bit sopping.
Dorothy was one of ten students inducted into the National Honor Society today. Naturally we were proud of her. Here is a picture of all ten with the one returning student who was inducted last year. Well done, ladies.
Dorothy called me into the kitchen this evening saying there was something for me to photograph. On the sliding glass door from our kitchen into the back yard was this little moth. It’s only about 2 cm across. I got the tripod and put the flash on the camera and was able to get a pretty good shot or two. I also got some extreme close-up pictures that show the hairy scales on the wings, which are pretty cool.
I’m not 100% certain of the identification. There are more than 20 species and they all look fairly similar. Since identification photos tend to be from above (dorsal) and this photograph is from below (ventral) I’m at a disadvantage. Still, that looks right and we’re in the right part of the country for that species.
It’s mushroom time in the yard again. These clumps came up last year for the first time and since we lost a tree a little before that, I have to assume they are growing on the rotting roots of that tree. At least, that’s what I hope. I certainly don’t want them to be growing on the rotting roots of trees that are still ready to fall on our house. Last year they came up and were all over the yard for a few days. Then they turned to mush and were filled with fly larva, which I assume we’ll see again this year. Lovely.
We went out to Rocklands Farm today and, among other things, enjoyed seeing three very young piglets. They were with there mother eating acorns on a large oak tree that came down in the last few days. This picture shows two of them and you can see how small they are. Cute little things, destined to be turned into bacon, sausage, chops, and ribs. If that bothers you, then you probably don’t want to know what’s in my freezer now.
We had a brief but strong rain shower this afternoon and then the sun came out, so we were treated to this beautiful rainbow.
When I see a big black bee with a blond, hairy thorax, I tend to call it a bumble bee whether that’s really what it is or not. There are plenty of bees of this general size and look, but I think this actually is a common eastern bumble bee (Bombus impatiens). They are actually quite hard to photograph on my mountain mint because they don’t stop moving. Some bees actually stop for short while not and then but not these chaps. Busy as a bee applies to them. This is as good a photo as I was able to get but it’s a bit blurry. Sorry.
Dorothy had the day off from school today so I took her and her friend Hannah to UMBC for a college visit. Our friend Kadie gave us a nice tour of the campus and then we went up to Stephen’s dorm room for a while. It’s a nice campus. The academic buildings are gathered together but there is a fair amount of open space, as well. It’s a little bit surprising to me that having lived in the area nearly my whole life I’ve never been here before, but there you are.
Sadly this is six days late for International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Anyway, Solomon paid a visit to Angie’s kindergarten class today. They are learning about pets and how to take care of them. If I was going to help, it was either Solomon or a fish. He did very well. He didn’t freak out and no one got bit, which is good. After all the kids were gone Angie posed with him on her shoulder, which I thought was pretty brave. They look good together. Avast, me hearties!
I spend a fair amount of time trying to keep power lines and other utility poles and wires out of my photographs. Sometimes you just cannot and that’s the way it goes but generally when taking landscape pictures, particularly natural scenes, they are a distraction. This evening, though, I was stopped for gas on the way home and decided I’d do it the other way around. So, I give you “Power Lines.”
Over the last several years this has to have become everyone’s least favorite insect around here. The brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) is a serious pest, even for those of us not trying to grow crops. This is the direction most of want to see them going (i.e. away from us) but mostly we like to see them dead.
Today is the 50th anniversary of the publication of Rachel Carson’s pernicious book, Silent Spring, which was in large part responsible for bans on use of DDT. As we now know, her book was very poor science and the benefits from responsible use of DDT far outweigh the costs. We can only hope that restrictions on its use can be eased and the poorest countries of the world, those that need it most, can benefit from it’s wonderful bug killing and disease preventing properties.
Dorothy finished Driver’s Ed this evening, making up the day she missed back in July. We went to York Castle to celebrate. Actually, she didn’t feel like having ice cream, so only Cathy and I did. Anyway, this is a neon OPEN sign in their window.
It’s that time of the year and the leaves are starting to turn all the bright colors of autumn. This maple leaf was sitting on the prostrate juniper in the back of our yard. I love this time of year, don’t you?
Kendra’s mom to Kendra, Briannah, and Dorothy to Merriweather Post Pavilion to see (and hear) Gotye in concert. It was a bit cool and they got rained on but were able to move into the pavilion, which was nice. They ended up with very good seats and had a great time.