September 23 – The End of Summer

The end of summer is
typically the last opportunity to see butterflies.  A few may reappear
on warm fall days, but many species are still flying and abundant now.  I
found a nice monarch in the back yard on Monday, which was also the day
we tagged the most monarchs, just three days after the usual peak of
the migration.  There’s also a warbler in the slide show.  I seldom see
warblers during their fall migration, but I had little else to do on
Thursday afternoon while we were waiting for monarchs to show.  Of
course, the slide show begins with our dear Gretchen, having destroyed
yet another roll of toilet paper.  Later in the week she chewed up
Stacey’s toothbrush.  These intrusions are partially due to the
temporary displacement of our main bathroom as we have the vanity

I noticed one day that the sea star and urchin were next to each other
on the front glass of the aquarium in my office.  I took a couple of
quick shots with the old Panasonic.  You can see the tube feet on the
urchin.  Recently, it was shown that genes for visual receptor pigments
are expressed in the tube feet, so they can probably see a lot more than
we thought. 

At the end is an image of a “cornado,” a dust devil in a corn field that
I photographed just outside of Canton.  The TV news (WGEM) is always
asking for weather photos, so I uploaded it, hoping that the weather man
would say “cornado” on the air because I coined the term.  Not only did
they post my pic on their Facebook page, they showed it during the
intro and the weather segment.  The weather man, Brian Inman, said it
more than once.  He even mentioned that the phenomenon was not uncommon,
but he just like saying “cornado.”  Stacey and I were dying of

Direct link:


Slide show:

September 15, 2011 – Fall insects

Tomorrow is the statistical peak of the monarch season, but we have tagged very few.  It’s shaping up the be a bad year, maybe the worst.  Last year we used all 100 tags in our possession.  This year I bought 200, but we’ll be lucky to use 25.  I have 4 caterpillars in my office.  I gave a little monarch presentation at a grade school.  They had just hatched out two butterflies that I was able to tag. 

It has turned much cooler here, and I am grateful.  Fortunately, there are a few insects remaining about.  The last image in the slide show below is a female Carolina mantis eating another female.  I found them outside my front door on a milkweed plant.  It was dusk and I had little time.  The on-camera flash did the trick.
Direct link:

2011_09_05 E Pondhawks

Slide show:

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September 2, 2011 – Studio Bugs

It’s been blazing hot here, setting a record of 104 yesterday.  In my Ecology lab, we had to go out in the afternoon and catch grasshoppers.  There was no way out of it.  We survived, and I got 150 grasshoppers to work with.  Some of the species are rather interesting to look at, and I set up my home insect studio to photograph them favorably.  One can produce excellent results with this technique, but it may look artificial.  Nature seldom has such even lighting.  I also had a cicada and the rainbow scarab as volunteers.  It was a good day to spend mostly indoors.
Direct link:


Slide show: