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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
The reason for the question mark in the title of this post is that I couldn't be sure these pairs were "making more bugs" or were about to, or just finished. In some cases, as with humans, it's difficult to distinguish between love and war. That's especially true of the two photos of Red Milkweed Beetles below. The pair of Pentatomid beetles on the Daisy above didn't move for several minutes, so I couldn't determine their intentions or their recent past.
This group of millipedes found under a log might be a recently hatched litter, or might participating in an orgy. I couldn't tell.
This deadly embrace is a dramatic discovery, a Goldenrod Crab Spider (white phase) devouring a Checkerspot butterfly on a cluster of Red Clover. The Crab Spiders sit in wait with their front pair of legs outstretched as if waiting for an embrace, but they are waiting for a flying insect to mistake them for a flower and land for a meal of pollen or nectar. Then, zap, the spider injects its paralyzing poison and quickly begins to drain the insides of its prey.
I did this painting in my journal of a pair of Damselflies mating. It's based on a photograph that I did not take. I haven't been so lucky. I find it cute that they assume the shape of a heart. The female is the bright blue one on top. She is holding the male by the neck while he bends around to meet her with the tip of his tail. If they are seriously engaged in the act, but are disturbed by a predator or a camera, they tend to fly off remaining attached.
I witnessed such a pair flying in tandem in the Darlingtonia Bog at Butterfly Valley. I was photographing the Sundew (the red plant with drops of sticky stuff) when a pair of Damselflies landed. They immediately realized they were trapped, separated from each other, then struggled to get free from the carnivorous plant. It was obvious to me they'd never escape, so i got a small stick and gently freed each one. They flew off, apparently unharmed. I wondered if they would ever get together again. Each was probably blaming the other for the mishap. I suppose the female would be the more responsible since she was apparently "driving."
I uncovered a pair of face-to-face pill bugs. They stayed in this position for at least a minute. I took the photo and replaced the piece of bark covering them. Never did find out if they were about to mate or were just engaged in idle chatter.