Beetle-kill wood? The Beetle Kill Trade Association? My heart skipped a beat!



The bottom  of a dead tree trunk full of beetle holes caught my eye and I wondered how to share it on my blog.  An hour later, while innocently reading the Sunday New York Times, I encountered an article with a good hook:”Small Colorado Resort Goes Big With a $700 Lift Ticket”. The price included a pair of skis or a snowboard made of beetle-kill wood. Beetle-kill wood?!?! Bingo!


According to Google, “The mountain pine beetle has killed large numbers of the lodgepole pine trees in the northern mountains of the US state of Colorado. Chemical prevention is effective but too costly for large-scale use. If not removed the dead trees increase the incidence of wildfires, and may contribute to climate change as they decay. Uses have been found for the dead wood including composting and in construction, and potentially to make biochar.”


“Beetle kill wood is also being used in local projects. Multiple housing complexes are beginning to use beetle kill wood to replace sidings of houses, like a condo complex at Copper Mountain which is replacing old siding with blue-stain wood, which is named for the dark color in the wood that is caused by fungus carried by the pine beetle. Snowboards, skis and guitars are also being crafted from beetle kill pine.[1]

The Beetle Kill Trade Association has been established to “to unite and align the self interests of business invested in or interested in the removal and recycling of standing beetle killed lodgepole pines in order to remove obstacles to the creation of a viable, vibrant and sustainable market for products utilizing beetle kill pines as raw material.””

What about southern Maryland beetle-kill wood? The emerald ash borer has devastated most of our lovely ash trees. Photos of dead tree and bark follow.



The beetle exit holes are supposed to be sort of “D” shaped. Look closely. Some of the beetles made their “D”s backward. Local guitar designers seeking beetle-kill wood are encouraged to contact me.


Hunting in Winter


Even my neighbor Tom wasn’t sure if it’s legal to hunt mosquitoes west of Rte. 210 in Charles County in January. When it happened I completely forgot to check with DNR (Department of Natural Resources). The location of the hunt was significant- our bedroom. The length of the hunt was also significant- 4 days. I don’t believe my weapon of choice has ever been listed under DNR regulations- the soft pad of skin below my right thumb. The hunt always took place before sunset, the one DNR regulation I definitely followed. Actually I thought I got her each late afternoon. She completely disappeared after every surely fatal strike. But, unless there were 4 mosquitoes in our bedroom, she showed up again the next late afternoon and the next, etc., demonstrating a complete lack of concern for my hunting prowess. So I was extremely proud when I finally captured my trophy, displayed above, smooshed against the sliding glass door. I smiled proudly each late afternoon when no mosquito showed up. I’d invite you to admire my trophy which would have been there forever but for my husband’s careless use of Windex.


‘Apologies to Robyn!’, ‘Belly up to the bar!’ or ‘Duck!’ Name this photo.


Could this be a Forage Looper, Robyn?  This moth was on the outside of my kitchen window on the morning of 1/26/17. Still dark. Approximately 39 degrees fahrenheit. Gone before sunrise so I didn’t get a top view.


Or is this a Forage Looper? Inside, after sunrise but no idea of temperature. HELP!


Notice how different the antennae and legs are, and how each moth holds its wings when at rest. Suddenly we’re face to face with moth ID clues!  I’m not sure  I’m up to the challenge, knowing that 11,000 kinds of moths have been recorded in the United States and Canada…

Moths in the kitchen!


Guess who loves moths? Me! This moth (#1) is on the inside of my kitchen door.


Compare to moth (#2) found in bathroom last week. Note how each one holds/folds its wings when ‘at rest’!


This is a darker picture of Moth #1. #1 and #2 both have fuzzy wing edges but different fuzz pattern. Also notice the difference in their heads. I wonder if that means they eat different things.


Enlargement. Sorry about focus.


Check reflection for details of thorax, abdomen and legs! Do you know what kind of moth this is? I will try to look it up.

Update: It is not a pantry moth or a clothes moth or a Forage Looper.

Another update: Maybe it is a Forage Looper! Just faded because it’s winter!

What do moths do in the bathroom?


Anavitrinella pampinaria – Common Gray Moth. I don’t know if that is the correct name for the moth hanging out in my bathroom. But after 2 hours of searching the internet, it is my best guess.

Moths are in the insect Order Lepidoptera, and share this Order with Butterflies. There are some 160,000 species of moths in the world, compared to 17,500 species of butterflies. In the United States, there are nearly 11,000 species of moths. Actually 11,000 is the number of moths that have been identified in the US. If you are looking for a new career, there are a lot more moths still to be discovered/identified. If you discover one, it might be named after you.


Enlargement doesn’t help show the incredible patterns created by the varying colors of their scales. But it does give a clearer view of the fabulously fuzzy edges of the wings. Made me think of the silencing edges of owl feathers. And there are wide-spread “eye” spots, normally said to make insects appear much larger to predators. Butterfly and moth wings are made of thin layers of  chitin, the same hardened protein that makes up their outside body. They are also covered with thousands of tiny scales that lend color to the wings. The wings are strengthened by a system of veins. It is amazing to watch a recently hatched butterfly or moth’s veins fill with fluid, creating a support system for their wings.

If anyone knows what this moth really is, please let me know. Also please sign up for my blog so you don’t miss any of them and help me find a ‘proper’ name for my blog. Someone suggested “Who the heck is Carrie”…


Beetle-hunting in 2017!


Some of you may recognize the first beetle I saw 1/1/2017. It’s a Firefly enjoying the sun on a beech tree!  (Possibly a Winter Firefly, Ellychnia corrusca, per Warren Steiner.) Please note: For the next several days I will share photos of my New Year’s Day hike through Chapman Forest in Charles County, MD. I never dreamed I’d be beetle-hunting. But I had the great good fortune of hiking with Warren Steiner, one of the Smithsonian’s beetle experts. He was determined to find beetles and he did! He searched through bark, logs, mushrooms and mullein roots, sandy beaches and cliffs. He even shook branches full of leaves to see who might fall out. He found lots of tiny holes where beetle larvae had emerged earlier in 2016.beetle-click-beetle-1-1-17

Included in Warren’s many other beetle finds was a click beetle. Per Steiner, “the click beetle with orange-sided thorax is Lacon discoideus found under bark of pine stump.”

Interesting how similar the two appear at first. But if you look carefully you start to see differences. I’ve only seen black click beetles before.

Shared by Jim Long from Charles Darwin’s autobiography about another beetle walk long ago:

“I will give a proof of my zeal: one day on tearing off some old bark, I saw two rare beetles and seized one in each hand; then I saw a third and new kind, which I could not bear to lose, so that I popped the one which I held in my right hand into my mouth. Alas it ejected some intensely acrid fluid, which burnt my tongue so that I was forced to spit the beetle out, which was lost, as well as the third one”.

Hope you had a wonderful 1/1/17. Can you top beetle-hunting as the most unusual way to start the new year? Please let me know and please share my blog with your friends.


Have yourself a Merry Christmas chigger


Have yourself a Merry Christmas chigger!  Never seen before! Climbed a blade of grass on Chapman Forest floor! (Sing to ‘Have yourself a merry little Christmas’.)

Think of this as your Christmas card from a would-be entomologist. Sorry it’s a bit out of focus. I thought it was a berry. But the ‘stem’ looked so much like a blade of grass that I looked closer. This is an adult chigger. It won’t bite you, which makes it a more appropriate subject for a Christmas card.


Better focus photo. Photos taken 12/18/16 in Chapman Forest, MD.

Per Steve Tally at Perdue U: “Chiggers aren’t insects, but arachnids, just like spiders and scorpions. They are a type of mite related to ticks. “Chiggers is a common name we give to the larvae of several species of mite,” Tim Gibb quote.

• Sometimes tiny red mites (I didn’t think it was that tiny!) are seen, especially on light-colored concrete. These are adult chiggers, which don’t bite people, but instead feed on insect eggs and other insects. The chigger larvae are much smaller than the adults– half a dozen of them could fit on the period at the end of this sentence. Chigger larvae can scarcely be been seen without a magnifying glass.

• Although adult chiggers have eight legs, when they are in their biting larval stage they have just six. And unlike ticks, chiggers don’t carry Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

• Chiggers aren’t really good at biting, and can bite only thin skin, which is why they bite children or women more than men. They like to bite in soft, light and moist areas of the body where the sun and weather haven’t made the skin tough and dry. These are places where chiggers are least welcome.”

Per entomologist H.B. Hungerford:

The thing called a chigger,
is really no bigger,
than the smaller end of a pin,
but the bump that it raises,
just itches like blazes,
and that’s where the rub sets in.
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL! Please send comments and share this blog.