Why is this called the pink-striped oakworm moth?! Oh. Duh.

Insect Moth pink striped oak

Don’t you think “Sunset Moth” would be more appropriate than “Pink-striped Oakworm Moth”? Maybe not. Now that I look at it again there is a prominent pink stripe. It was on my kitchen screen door this morning offering a photo opportunity. It is a species of silk moth of the family Saturniidae and is considered a pest of forests because it defoliates trees. Primarily a pest of the urban forest, it is fairly common but not often abundant. Maybe that’s why I don’t recall seeing it before today. Adults do not feed. Males and females both have the white spot on wings. When I Googled it, I discovered lots of people take pictures of this colorful moth. One article said they don’t have antennae but I found a photo with lovely feather-like orange antennae.

 

Wasp Sandwich!

A pile of Polistes wasps. Left photo is top view. See all 3 heads lined up like beads. Right photo is side view. That’s where you can see more clearly what is really happening. Crazy! Bottom wasp is smaller female. The pile moved around, climbing and flying. All the climbing and flying was done by the female with the males remaining on top of her. When I Googled it, someone said they’d seen a pile of 4 wasps. These photos are dedicated to my friend Tom Cullen to wish him a happy birthday!

Imagine wild mushrooms with your scrambled eggs

Mushroom puffball 4-7

Much to my surprise I found my first fresh puffball of 2017 on 4/7.  They are called puffballs because their dust-like spores create a brown cloud when the mature mushroom bursts. That makes it fun to kick them. The biggest puffballs contain 7 trillion spores! Unlike other mushrooms, the spores are produced internally. The mushrooms are delicious before the spores form. When people collect puffballs, they cut them in half to check the interior. If the flesh is all white and free of spores, it can be eaten raw or sliced and cooked in butter.

In Tibet puffballs were traditionally used to make ink by burning them, adding water and glue to the ash and then pressing out the excess water.

Does this look like an elegant poinsettia?

Tree catawba leaves

We usually think of the colors of leaves in the fall. But the young leaves of spring contain equally magical colors.  The leaves in the photo are from the catalpa/catawba tree. When I was a kid we called them cigar trees and Indian bean trees because of their long, bean-like seed pods which were fun to play with. The leaves of this native flowering tree eventually become heart-shaped or three-lobed.  They are the sole source of food for the catalpa sphinx moth caterpillar. When caterpillars are numerous, infested trees may be completely defoliated. Due to their large leaf size, catalpas are a popular habitat for many birds, providing them good shelter from rain and wind.

Because the caterpillars are an excellent live bait for fishing, some dedicated anglers, particularly in southern states, plant catalpa mini-orchards for their own private source of “catawba-worms”.

Catalpa is occasionally used as a tonewood or sound board in guitars. Who knew?

 

Remains in the Romaine!

Herring in romaine

Our local male osprey, Diver, brought a lovely herring to Robyn’s garden and dropped it perfectly in line with her newly planted row of romaine lettuce! The traditional native American fertilizer!  We’re pretty sure it was Diver because garden is near his new nest and he has been busy catching herring for days. It was such a lovely fish it must have attracted the attention of a local eagle. There was undoubtedly a dramatic war between the osprey and the eagle in the air over Robyn’s garden. Wish we had seen it happen. If the fish had dropped into the Potomac River, the eagle would have swooped down and stolen it before it slipped below the waves.  But neither bird wanted to attempt to retrieve the fish from inside Robyn’s  fabulous plastic net fencing designed to deter deer, groundhugs, rabbits and turtles.  We have added osprey and eagles to that list. Please use sketch for another CrayolaMoment!

herring 2

Robyn just sent me an actual photo of the herring nuzzled up against a romaine seedling, precisely in line with the just-planted row.  My drawing was from memory.  The fish was the most important part of my drawing so it did (unintentionally) become bigger than life… A drawing allows you to show a whole lot more than a photograph!

You can buy used beetle wings on Amazon!

Insect Emerald Ash borerOne look at this Emerald Ash Borer and you can understand why the elytra, or stiff front pair of wings on a beetle have been popular since cavemen discovered they weren’t just delicious but also useful for trade.  What wouldn’t you give to possess something so amazingly iridescent?