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.
I could just as well have titled this post "keeping up" or "catching up." Thee photos are about how my day started last Monday. On the way to camp in the morning, I stopped by the Milkweed on Chandler Road to see how my Red Milkweed Beetles were doing. I recalled that at this time last summer, I had yet to see my first one. This year they've arrived earlier and in greater abundance. Also, this year I've seen a greater variety of their behavior including many photos of apparent courtship and definite mating (croll back for a couple of weeks to see these.) On Monday, it was apparent that the Showy Milkweed was about finished with blooming for the season and some seed pods had begun to form. The beetles seemed to be doing a little end-of-season leaf munching and maybe a little egg laying. I could probably find out everything that is known about this beetle's whole life cycle with a thorough net search, but I'm having more fun finding out as much as I can by repeated observations.
The white spots on the underside of the leaf might be eggs. I don't have a microscope, and possibly not enough knowledge to confirm that. The beetle appears to have eaten the tip of the leaf, but I can't say I actually observed any chewing.
Considering the wide variety of antenna positions, I wondered to what extent the antennae are involved in eating behavior. Or maybe just balance. They definitely seemed to be involved in courtship and mating in photos from my earlier posts.
This front view (above) shows where the scientific name comes from. Tetraopes means four eyes and the base of the antennae seem to split the two eyes in such a way they there appear to be four. And the specific epithet basalis refers to the attachment point of the antennae.
As soon as I got to camp I searched for the Giant Sawtooth Fungus, a photo of which I posted last Friday, 7/12. That photo was a top view which made it look like some sort of mandala. I decided I needed to get a side view, and here it is. Took a while to find it as I hadn't marked the spot. I also had visions of a kid kicking it, but it's still there (Wed. 7/17) as I checked again this morning.
I also got a better photo of the Sierra Mint which I originally suspected was a Salvia, which is also in the mint family. Next post will be my Tuesday photos. I'm catching up!