Wednesday, February 27, 2013

If the Soviets Liked Apple Pie

 This selection from my archives is a celebration of interactions of plants and animals and me that are a constant reminder that everything is connected to everything else.  There's a truly crazy thing going on in my county that ignores this truth.  It seems that "sustainability" is no longer a common sense goal of all human behavior but instead is a code word for "bad people in foreign countries and their American accomplices are going to take away your property and your freedom."  Jeeeesh!
 This recent eruption of idiocy reminds me of discussions I used to have with my college buddies during the Cold War.  The anti-communist hysteria of the McCarthy Era had taken many bizarre forms, and we used to say that we might need to give up our popular phrase "as American as apple pie."  You see, if the Soviets took a liking to apple pie, it must be bad and we'd have to ban it.
 So, backtracking on the photos.  I grew up hearing moths are bad.  They eat your clothing.  I found the moth in the top photo in the ladies room at summer camp.  What was I doing there?  A female camper who knew I would love to see it told me it was there and she guarded the rest room while I entered with my camera.  What a beautiful creature, an Eyed Sphinx.  I would volunteer some old clothing to feed it if in fact it ate clothing which it doesn't.
 The second photo is of a Thread-waisted Wasp feeding on a daisy in my front yard.  It might look scary to someone taught that all wsaps are scary, even deadly!  But I know otherwise and I have spent hours watching them feeding on various flowers.
   The third photo is of a Yellow Jacket building its nest.  It was too busy to pay attention to me, so I watched for ten or fifteen minutes, admiring its engineering ability.  If I get stung once in a great while watching things like this it is well worth it.  By the way, I get stung about once every few years.  No big deal.  I see wonders!
 Here is one of the many beautiful bugs that like the Showy Milkweed.  This one is the Small Milkweed Bug (not to be confused with the Red Milkweed Beetle in the bottom photo.  In the strict scientific sense of the word bug, or true bug (Order Hemiptera), a bug is not a beetle and a beetle is not a bug.
 Another visitor to the Showy Milkweed, Asclepias speciosa, is the Carpenter Bee.  These can sting or bite and eat huge holes in solid wood, hence the name, and they might like to build a nest in your house.  There are ways of dealing with this without poisoning the environment and without trying to eliminate the species. 
 A mini-ecosystem in this photo.  The intended subject was the Ladybird Beetle, but I thought the color contrast would be nice if I included the flower.  Only after I put the photo on my large laptop screen did I notice the aphid trying to stay out of sight of the beetle.  As I said earlier, everything is connected to everything else.
 One of my favorite "bugs" to watch and photograph is the Goldenrod Crab Spider, here in the middle of a meal of Checkerspot butterfly.  This spider can turn yellow, although it takes a few days, and I've caught it in the act of devouring several dozen different species of insects.  Showing more patience than most humans, it simply waits with front pair of legs outstretched, more or less resembling a crab. One hypothesis is that most if not all prey are mistaking the spider for a flower in which they attempt to feed on the nectar.  Surprise!  This drama was photographed in the Butterfly Valley Botanical Area.
Remember, if everything is connected to everything else, all these plants and animals interact and they are connected to the sustainability of all life on this planet.  By not recognizing this, our species is on a suicidal path.  Do your property rights extend to the right to destroy the environment?  I'd say not.


  1. Thanks. I can hardly wait for these critters to get moving again. For now, I'm enjoying the return and re-activation of lots of birds, but I'm not much of a bird photographer.