Friday, February 14, 2014

The king of hearts

Happy Valentine's Day!  To celebrate, here is a photograph of one of the most remarkable -- and occasion-appropriate -- insects that I have seen recently: a dragonfly covered in red hearts.

A male calico pennant (Celithemis elisa).
If you look closely, you can see two hearts inside the large dark splotches on the dragonfly's hindwings in addition to the four hearts (and one broken heart) on the dragonfly's abdomen.  Female calico pennants have a similar pattern, but with yellow markings instead of red ones.  Therefore, the females bear a close resemblance to their close relative (and another holiday dragonfly), the Halloween pennant (Celithemis eponina).

Monday, February 10, 2014

The vanishing act, continued

After the caterpillars on the papaya had all disappeared into thin air (surrounded by white fuzz), the papaya leaves were left to grow undisturbed once again.  Yet, not that many days went by before I began to notice a new set of bites taken out of the leaves up at the very top of the papaya.

Papaya leaves with some tips chewed partially off and other tips completely gone.
Another sphinx moth must have visited the papaya to lay her eggs and make the tree play host to a new batch of caterpillars.  How many caterpillars were in this new batch?  Standing on the ground it was difficult to see up to the top of the tree and I only spotted one caterpillar.  However, with the help of my camera, I was able to count not just one, but seven new caterpillars.

The seven caterpillars circled in red.
That is, I counted seven new caterpillars just on the small part of the papaya shown in the pictures above.  I didn't count how many caterpillars were gobbling up the rest of the papaya leaves.  Happily, however many caterpillars there were, they didn't stop the tree from also producing a nice batch of papaya fruits.

Papaya fruits growing from the trunk of the papaya tree.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Every day is Groundhog Day

Yesterday was Groundhog Day, but it won't be the only groundhog day of the year.  When you have your very own groundhog living in your backyard, nearly every day is a groundhog day.

Our backyard groundhog (Marmota monax) standing alert to possible danger.
That is, nearly every day during the half of the year that the groundhog isn't hibernating.  In the summer, the groundhog grazing clover and grass on the lawn is an almost daily sight. 

 * To see this video in high definition (1080p), you may need to: 
(1) click "YouTube" to watch on the YouTube website
(2) change the settings at the bottom of the video screen
However, for the next six weeks (as predicted by Punxsutawney Phil) or so, this groundhog should still be resting in its burrow deep underground.  Only when spring arrives with its profusion of tender new shoots, will the the groundhog emerge -- ready to make up for months of fasting. 

The groundhog searching for food on the lawn.