Today I bought some romaine lettuce for salad for dinner. I was very surprised to find Coccinella californica on our lettuce! As someone who occasionally thinks about ladybugs, I thought to myself where there are predators there are often prey. You can imagine my happiness when I found aphids on the lettuce too! Then, as a bonus, there was a leafhopper!
The lettuce was not organic and the HQ of the farming corporation is Salinas, CA – a normal place to find Coccinella californica.
Aphid – cell phone photo
The salad was fine. I did wash the lettuce and kept the ladybug and leafhopper specimens.
As usual this cartoon is based on real events. I thought about using Manti T’eo, to represent the non-biologist, but used a farmer. I respect and like farmers, and it is a farmer that was helping with some of my insect research that is responsible for for the statement central to this comic. I have not done it, but if any of you are participating in the lightning bug citizen science project, please comment and share your experience.
On 4 April 2013, I was in the Missouri Bootheel to help a 4H group with an insect program. The kids were super well-behaved, in fact a little too restrained for my tastes, so we explained the holometabolous life style using interpretive dance.
I am leading a mass interpretive dance to tell the story of holometabolism. In this photo we are in the larval stages.
After shaking it to a natural history beat, we got down to business – enjoying some bugs. I left our awesome and gee whiz bug drawers at home. The 4H leader told me she wanted to talk about native insects. So I brought a drawer of ladybugs, a drawer of dung beetles, a drawer of Lepidoptera, and a drawer of Hemiptera from out of the storage facility where the collection was living at the time. One of the 4H kids, Lawson, is also an entomologist and he brought his collection to the meeting also. So we set up the insects at half court in the gym and had an insect
Insect encounter! I love having children rapid fire questions and observations about insects – it is so cool to have them excited about the subject.
encounter session with the drawers of insects. Children and insects seem to go together so well – it is fun to formally introduce them.
This summer I will get to go blacklighting with the 4H group. That will be a blast!
Early last week I pulled an Amblyomma americanum from a place I would rather not mention to you tender readers. Because of where the tick was and how deeply it was attached, I used tick tweezers that I carry in my backpacking first aid kit but haven’t used for years. I have pulled 100′s of attached ticks over the years and have never had a problem… I examined the tick under magnification and the removal was a job well done!
By Wednesday, I was feeling muscle aches, headache, listless, and confused. Friday with all symptoms intensifying, I went to see my Dr. Luckily, I go to a sharp Dr., she agreed that my symptoms could be tick-related and chose to put me on doxycycline (the go to antibiotic for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever) – if nothing else as a prophylaxis. Well, Sunday I was feeling pretty darn good (i.e. normal) and thinking clearly (or as close as I come).
So, why am I telling you this? Ticks and tick borne diseases are out there. So are insect borne diseases, water borne diseases, and poop/carrion borne diseases (for those of us who sample insects in carrion and/or poop). I have always felt I must have already been exposed and developed immunity to all the tick borne diseases. I was wrong. Luckily, I was able to associate my symptoms to the tick. Take the time to know what risks you are taking, and don’t exacerbate your risk – example: wash hands before eating after dung beetle work.
It is possible that the tick and my subsequent deterioration were not associated. As I am feeling better, there is no need to spend further $$’s on diagnosis. I really feel I dodged a bullet here. I hope this little “it happened to me” story helps this to NOT happen to you.
The Zygaenidae are a moth family I do not have a good handle on. From what I have read
20 April 2013, West Monroe, Louisiana
they are primarily tropical and all members are capable of producing Hydrogen Cyanide as a defensive chemical.
I had the pleasure of documenting Harrisina americana, for Ouachita Parish for BAMONA while visiting in Louisiana recently. It was sitting quietly on a Lantana leaf and allowed easy cell phone photography. Sharing your Lepidoptera photos with BAMONA helps document ranges of moths in North America – the first step in conserving such!
I would expect a poisonous moth to be much more colorful, but I guess “orange and black – stay back Jack” still applies. I have much more to learn about this moth family, now that I am living in the Southeast, maybe I can find more members of this family.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of going for a run at Restoration
map of the park – sorry about the vandalism, it isn’t a perfect world… even in West Monroe, LA.
Park in West Monroe, Louisiana. Restoration Park is a perfect example of many restoration paradigms. It reflects that restoration and conservation are human (not natural) processes and as such must reflect human values. The park also demonstrates that a win-win-win is better than a win-win situation.
The park is located at the site of an old mining operation. Mined out, the area became a defacto dump where all sorts of illegal dumping took place. In 1989, the city of West Monroe bought the property with plans of developing a storm water detention basin. Well they ended up building a storm water detention basin, that also provides a green space, that also provides an awesome running trail, that also provides a bit of green beauty in a commercial district.
The running trail is a roughly 1 mile loop that allows a detour across the detention basin on a wooden board walk. Yesterday the water lilies and Tradscantia were in bloom and the wood ducks were whistling as I ran past. I got a good work out and got a good nature fix – while the storm waters from the rains the day before were being processed by ol’ Mom Nature. WIN – WIN – WIN! Hooray for West Monroe!