2015. year of the goat. commission.
old work. but still relevant.
2015. year of the goat. commission.
old work. but still relevant.
The Osedax mucoflon literally means Bone Eating Snot Flower. It’s a small sea worm that only really survives and proliferates when there is a whale carcass for it to consume. They don’t actually have stomachs or mouths; but, instead they attach themselves to the bones and team up with symbiotic bacteria to help digest the nutrients released from the fats and oils. The males, however, don’t actually feed on the whale. The females are the larger visible snot flowers. The males actually are microscopic dwarfs that live INSIDE of the lumen of a gelatinous tube that surrounds the females. These male dwellings are actually called “harems,” and there are anywhere from 30 to 100 males living inside of a female at a time! They sustain themselves on the yolk left over from the egg that they hatched from. It is said that the sex of these bone eating worms is actually determined by their environment. Apparently when females reproduce they disperse “undifferentiated larvae” into the ocean on a quest for whale bones. The larvae that settle on the bone turn into females, and the larvae that settle on top of the females turn to males! Once the whale is consumed most of the Bone Eating Snot Flowers die with the hope that the larvae floating in the ocean will find a new carcass to colonize.
The Osedax mucoflon is only one of countless more species of bone eating worm. You can read more about them hhhhheeeerrrrreeeeee.
If the 3 leaf clover represents the Holy Trinity (said Saint Patrick), and the 4 leaf lover is good luck (says everyone), then what does the 57 leaf clover mean (found by a guy in 2004)?! WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
Tineola bisselliella, or the Common Clothes Moth, is a species of fungus moth. Fungus moth larva (aka the caterpillar) mostly feed on, well, fungus, lichens, and detritus. Detritus, if you, like I, didn’t already know, is dead particulate organic matter…like bones, horns, feathers, and poop. But as you may have deduced from the name, clothes moths primarily feed on clothes. Protein and cellulose based clothes, like wool, silk, cotton, linen, and fur are preferred, but they will also feed on other things like flour and salt.
Only the larva of the clothes moth actually eats. Adult moths have enough food and moisture saved from the larval stage in order to sustain them for the duration of the time it takes them to complete their sole adult-life goal, and that is to reproduce. And, unlike other moths you may have observed, clothes moths prefer the darkness. In fact, they will die if exposed to the sun for more than just a few hours!
Annie Dillard wrote about Edwin Way Teale’s findings on the clothes moth larva in my favorite book "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek," stating that when there is a shortage in food, the larva will sometimes go into a ‘molting frenzy.’ It will molt and shrink over and over and over again, becoming smaller and smaller and smaller! And then what?!
I also found a really great option of ridding your house and wardrobe of these guys that does not involve chemicals. Trichogrammatid wasps. These are tiny parasitic wasps that lay eggs inside of the clothes moth. The wasp’s larva feeds on the moth’s eggs, and bam! These tiny tiny (.079in) wasps are completely harmless to humans and disappear with full bellies within 2 to 4 weeks. Or, you could clean and aerate your clothes often, and store them in cedar with lavender satchels. Your choice.
Stink Bugs: look cool, smell gross, act real normal.
They are your typical bug, a True Bug, you might say. Stink Bugs are also known as Shield Bugs, and some shield bugs (the one’s we are talking about here) are in the family, Pentatomidae. But, most people know them as stink bugs because, when they feel threatened they secrete a smelly glandular substance from the pores of their thorax. Some secrete their smelly concoctions as they walk, leaving a trail behind. They do this even when they’re not scared, to keep from being scared, by always being on their smelly guard. Those guys ruin the fruit for all of us.
Actually, many of these guys ruin our fruit. Some species are huuuuuuge pests to human’s.They can create large populations of themselves and decimate crops. (In contrast, some are hugely beneficial, feasting on other crop decimators.)
But really, the coolest thing about stink bugs….
Stink bugs will suck the sap out of young fruiting bodies. If the fruit doesn’t die and fall to the ground, the healthy tissue will continue to grow, leaving the punctured areas behind. This creates a deformed looking fruit. CATFACE.
Hey look, those tomatoes look familiar...
This week’s post is going to be short, but very very sweet. Not sweet in a delicious sugary kind of way, but sweet in a poop kind of way.
You’re right, poop isn’t very sweet...
But this post is, and it’s about poop!
Do you think that if you covered yourself in your own feces, that someone would try to get into a fist fight with you, or worse, try to eat you?
No. probably not.
Good job palmetto tortoise beetle larvae! These guys are terrific, and very smart. Or, at least, they have evolved in a very effective way. First off, we’re going to start with the adult palmetto tortoise beetle laying her eggs. She does so by cementing her eggs to a leaf, and then she conceals the eggs with a layer of dry poop. This is thought to be for defense purposes. Once the larvae hatch, they take careful notes from their mother, and start producing their own poop shields. Well, they’re more like hats, really. Large poopy straw-like body hats. They use their telescoping anus to poot out dried poop in coiled layers across their bodies. They are able to point their anus in different directions in order to build the most effective poop hat shield. They are then able to hold their poop hat shields in place with their very convenient anal fork!
THIS MAKES ME SO HAPPY.
It’s always really refreshing when I learn about a new organism. The ones that are super new, those that I had no idea about, like pangolins. No, not penguins, Pangolins.
But, with more pangolin research came the inevitable pang in my heart, when I read how exploited these guys are. It got me thinking about why any animal is sold on the black market. Not for hunger or for survival of the captor, but for show, so that those who purchase these animals can shake their fancy cock feathers. Humans can be so self righteous and greedy. But that’s no new concept, so we shall move on.
Pangolins are a manicurists’ dream! Almost their entire body is covered with scales made of keratin (the same stuff our fingernails are made out of). The scales grow throughout their lives, but they keep them trimmed by using rocks and the surrounding landscape to file them down. They don’t have teeth, but instead have a loooooong spaghetti-like tongue that exceeds the length of their bodies, which they use to extract ants and other insects from their hills and homes. The insects are swallowed whole and churned and crushed in the stomach with the aid of rocks, sand, and other consumed debris. Pangolins eat about 70 million insects a year. (Talk about biological pest control.) They don’t have to worry about an invading army of ants, if their feast goes awry, because pangolins have special muscles that enable them to seal their nostrils, ears, and eyes shut from invaders. And, when some other animal is ready to feast on a pangolin, his natural defense is to curl up into a keratin protected ball. However, despite these defense mechanisms, these solo-living, nocturnal animals are on the decline. All 8 species of pangolins are somewhere on the verge of extinction. They are losing their habitat and are the most illegally traded mammal in the world.
I think the best form of prevention is education. So, now that you know a little bit about this scaly organism and his situation, maybe you’ll turn down the platter of pangolin at the next party.
I spent the winter of 2013 rolling through part of the last 1% of the American tall grass prairie....freezing....searching for the infamous Greater Prairie Chicken. And I mean freezing. Two pairs of wool socks + leather boots, in a van, numb toes, freezing.
We were looking for Prairie Chickens, specifically prairie chickens who were forming a "lek." Leks are breeding grounds, booming grounds, where the single chickens (all the single chickens) go to call out to the ladies and try to make them swoon. The male chickens pick a spot in the prairie and meet there every day. They stomp their feet, fluff their feathers, puff out their orange neck cheeks, and let out these, at first gergly and then very smooooth, vibrating boooooooms. Their songs can be heard for up to a mile, hoping to reach their lady loves' ears...and vaginas.
A similar ritual is true for the Kakapo. But, unlike the prairie chicken, the kakapo must walk...up mountains, far from their normal territory, to form their leks. The male birds dig bowls within the perimeter of their lek and boom within them. The bowl forms a sort of natural amplifier. Their lady loves hear this and walk 500 miles to find the males, just to get their baby on. Kakapos have to walk because they are flightless parrots. Back before humans inhabited New Zealand (the islands in which the kakapo live) the kakapo had no natural predators, and no need to fly. They are also the heaviest and only nocturnal parrots in the world. Their booming can be heard for almost three miles.
Unfortunately, both birds aren't doing so hot in whole scheme of life. The whole living thing. Mammals got 'em down. Human's took the land from the prairie chickens and brought predators to the kakapos.
So, just a reminder for me and for you...we have to be careful about how treat and travel around this blueberry we live on. Everything we do effects everything around us. What's good for us may not be good for another. We have to keep the balance. Make sure that boom boom booooooom is used for making babies, and not for decimating a species.
Kentucky bluegrass is the grass that America has slathered all over itself, deeming any other plant within it a weed. Personally, I am a fan of natural lawns, you know, lawns with an abundance of various kinds of plants. It makes more since to me, especially because many other plants have much more value to the soil they grow in and to the environment around them. Moderation is key, anyhow.
The wildly hated Taraxacum officinale, or the dandelion, is number one on many a lawn owner's list. But it's very unfortunate.
Dandelions are 100% edible. Not only are they edible, but they are extremely beneficial to a consumer's health. They contain vitamins A, C, & K, Calcium, more potassium and iron than spinach, manganese, and more beta-carotene than carrots. The dandelion has been used to help treat fungal infections, bile and liver problems, and is a natural diuretic (maybe that's why I grew up calling them "pee pee flowers?"). There's even research going on about using dandelions for natural rubber production!
And gardeners, listen up, dandelions are actually beneficial next to your plants. Their long taproots help to transfer nutrients to shallower rooted plants, fix nitrogen into the soil, and release ethylene gas, which helps to ripen fruit! I’ve also heard tales of dandelion roots being used as a natural dye...so what’s not to love? Oh, and you haven’t forgot about dandelion wine, have you?
So next time you want to uproot the dandelion in your yard, maybe instead give him a little brush through his mane and thank him, or maybe just toss him on your salad.
PS I recommend doing personal research on dandelions and their properties before consuming, in case of any allergies.
I've started a new thing. Because Lane and I have the best kitties in the universe, I'm going to be documenting their real life holiday adventures in the form of cards. Each holiday will be a new set of cards. It's going to be called "What About The Kitties?" Keep those eyes peeeeeeeled.
A stencil idea.
A test and a fail...
A reinterpretation and success!
Holiday cards available at the Broughton Exchange located on 18 E Broughton St. in Savannah, Ga, OR contact me for details.