After a slow first five months, I'm back to blogging in earnest. In the forthcoming few months I plan to keep on tracking the blooming of wildflowers, the activities of bugs and reptiles and any other critters I'm quick enough or lucky enough to photograph, and to comment on ecological relationships. Since there is an increasing sense of ecological crisis among many people and more vigorous denial of such on the part of others, I will inevitably comment on the social and political dimensions of survival as I see them.
I am still an adjunct instructor in the English Department at Feather River College, but time permitting, I am available for hire as a nature guide in the region in and around Plumas County. A brochure describing my usual kinds of natural history adventures is in development. Email me c/o email@example.com with your mailing address and a statement of interests, and I'll send you a rough draft.
I have been teaching since 1965 and have recently joined the English Department as an Associate Faculty member at Feather River College. Recently taught Nature Literature in America and am currently teaching Interpersonal Communication and Basic Reading and Writing.
Recently I've been fine-tuning my essay on beetles that is planned to go into the first section of my book. In support of that essay, I've been going through my archive of beetle images, nearly all captured in or near Quincy, my home town. The first two photos are of the Red Milkweed Beetle which lives its entire life in or on the Showy Milkweed, the favorite haunt of Monarch Butterflies.
Next is the Yellow Velvet Beetle, in this case also on a Showy Milkweed blossom, although this species does not confine its adventures to this plant. I've seen them land on most any shrub in the vicinity. I haven't seen them feed or mate, so I don't know if they are attached to particular species of plants.
Next is the Spined Woodborer, the largest beetle I've ever found around these parts. Powerful looking jaws, but this beetle doesn't move very fast, so it's easy to avoid the jaws when picking them up.
One of the prettiest visitors to my front yard is the Dimorphic Flower Longhorn, here resting on a Daisy. In fact, I avoided running over this daisy with my lawnmower so it would attract a wide variety of insects and spiders. If you scroll through my posts for the summer of 2012, you'll find many photos of this daisy with other bugs on it.
Here are two photos of the Common Checkered Clerid, the one above resting (or possibly dining) on Yarrow, and the one below on a blade of grass. I've seen these resting or dining on many different plants including several of our local species of milkweeds.
The Blue Milkweed Beetle is smaller than all the others here, less than a half inch long, but the metallic blue is an outstanding beacon when the only green is the milkweed leaves and most other surrounding vegetation is brown. I usually see these toward the end of summer.
The Oregon Fir Sawyer has very impressive antennae. This one wouldn't stay put near my woodpile where I found it, but when I brought it inside it cooperated for a photo session. Then I released it back onto the wood pile.
Last on today's installment is the California Prionus, a very large beetle with powerful jaws. Like the Spined Woodborer, it doesn't move fast so it's easy to pick up without getting bit. I find it particularly satisfying to show kids who were previously inclined to smash such critters to change their minds and enjoy gently picking them up and showing others, all the while feeling very brave.
This is probably a coincidence, but I just realized that all the beetles in this series are in the same family, the Longhorn Beetles. I have photos of around 35 local beetles, so I'm sure I'll post another group soon.