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.
In the longhorn beetle family which I featured in my previous post, the Red Milkweed Beetle, Tetraopes basalis, is one of my favorite photo subjects. The plant, Showy Milkweed, Asclepias speciosa, is the host. When the beetles are eating or mating, they seem oblivious to my presence. Before they began either of those activities, around a month ago, they would bend their antennae back like a cat guarding its territory, then fly away if they couldn't get me to back off. Then, as if over night, they became engrossed in eating and breeding and became an easy photo subject.
In this head-on view I got the camera to within 9 inches. Below, I turned over a leaf and revealed what I think are eggs. It's time to do my annual review of this beetle's life history. I do know they spend the winter in the roots of the plant below the ground surface. I guess that's redundant. :)
I've never been bitten, although I think they're capable of it. They do take good-sized chunks out of the leaves of the milkweed.
An aerial shot against a bright blue sky - I was actually holding the blade of grass, and my picking it did not seem to bother the beetle. I made a point of placing her on another blade of grass when I was done photographing.
I think I may have satisfied my beetle photography needs for this season - unless I encounter a new species.