Wednesday, April 1, 2015

No Foolin'

 Since our local newspaper did an April Fools Day cover, it got me in the mood to try to do something similar.  A couple of days ago, when I was without my camera, I came across a little patch of Stout-beaked Toothwort.  I went back to that spot today with camera and got the first photo below.  When I got home, I thought I'd gather together some plants and animals whose names are so weird that maybe my viewers would assume the day's blog was a joke.  It's not, and that's why it's titled No Foolin'.
The above photo I pulled from my archive.  It was taken about 4 years ago near Oakland Camp.  The pair of mating bugs are called the Western Bloodsucking Conenose.  These are not particularly fast moving, so I've handled them without fear of getting bit.  However, they can deliver a nasty bite and sometimes carry Chagas disease.  Best leave them alone.
 The patch of Toothworts was looking pretty grim due to the dry conditions.  None of the blossoms were fully open and the the overall plants were far less fleshy than they are in a good rain year.  So, I pulled three old archive photos of the same plant from a couple of years ago when the soil was much wetter at this time of year.  They were photographed near the Keddie Cascades Trail.
 The Toothworts are in the Mustard Family and are one of the earlier wildflowers to bloom around these parts.

Other candidates for listing on this post included Henbit Dead Nettle, which I posted a few days ago, Bindweed, which is called Orchard Morning Glory by people who like it, and a representative of the Birthwort family that's now blooming on the FRC campus, Lemmon's Wild Ginger.  More on these later, I'm still looking in the archives for photos I took during wetter years.
Last, I thought a amusing addition for April Fools Day would be three Amazonian beetles named for fools: Agathidium bushi, Agathidium cheneyi, and Agathidium rumsfeldi.  I've never actually seen these beetles that were discovered and named by a couple of Cornell entomologists, but I did mention them in a humorous essay I wrote a few years ago called "An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles."  At the time, I assumed the professors were mocking the politicians.  After all, these beetles are in the Slime-mold Beetle family.  However, I did a little online research on them today and was embarrassed to discover the names were meant to honor these men.  Or well.  Hope you had a nice day of foolishness.

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