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.
The Red Milkweed Beetles do such a good job of chewing milkweed that I feel pretty sure they could do a job on my skin; however, they don't seem inclined to. They don't crawl very fast, so I let them crawl aroound on my left hand while I photograph them with my right. Lucky that all the cameras I've seen have the shutter button on the right.
This next critter is a different story. See those jaws?!!! This is an Antlion larva. I've never caught one. You've probably seen the evidence of their presence, small craters in the sand. When an ant slips over the edge of the steep, sandy walls, the Antlion hiding beneath the bottom point pulls sand toward and past itself and the resulting landslide carries the ant into those menacing jaws. Every time I've tried to catch one with a large spoon, a trowel, or similar device, like a professional razor clam or sand crab it disappears deeper into the earth faster than I can dig. Well, my youngest son Ryan solved that problem. He saw a crater at the edge of our driveway and brought out his shop vac. It worked. Our ping pong table made a nice background. The above photo is of its back side.
It was difficult to turn this critter over for a photo of its front or ventral side. It popped back upright very quickly. It took many attempts to get it tired enough to play 'possum for a few seconds for a photo. This is the larval stage. It turns into a larger, lacy-winged adult resembling Dobson Flies, Stone Flies, and other large, lacy-winged insects that fly into your Coleman lantern on camping trips.
I hate to kill bugs, but sometimes I can't help it. I try to train my family not to leave anything out for ants to eat, but the ants are able to detect the tiniest, sweet particles. So, ultimately, I get out the drops of Boric Acid. Here they are, happily drinking at what they probably consider an oasis.