Monarchs and Milkweed

We keep a patch of milkweed in the back yard, and several patches of excellent nectar sources for butterflies. My favorite colors are monarchs on Tithonia. Check these out.DSC07130.jpg

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And then, of course, the milkweeds. Here it seems necessary to quote part of the great Richard Wilbur poem, “Two Voices in a Meadow.”

A Milkweed
Anonymous as cherubs
Over the crib of God,
White seeds are floating
Out of my burst pod.
What power had I
Before I learned to yield?
Shatter me, great wind:
I shall possess the field.

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Letting Go

After 33 years of collecting moths in the Pikes Peak Region, I finally have begun to let it go to the C. P. Gillette Museum in Fort Collins at Colorado State University. The first installment, 36 drawers of mostly Noctuidae (the owlet moths) were shrink-wrapped and dispatched on August 29. One drawer is shown here.9.jpg

And here is the first load.IMG_2410.jpg

And in their new home.Screen Shot 2018-09-01 at 10.46.16 AM.png

Many more to go in the next few weeks. Sad to see them go, but I know that they’re in a better place. (!)

Driving in the West

A road trip across southwestern Colorado and northern New Mexico shows breathtaking beauty, but also astonishing devastation of the forests. Every magnificent scene–and there were many, from Creede to Taos–is countered with fire and blight. Three huge fire scars, running for miles and miles, and the almost complete loss of the conifer forests on Wolf Creek Pass are hard to look at. Long-term drought and dense forests make life tough. Even the aspen were compromised on the Tusas Mountains east of Tierra Amarilla. Here is the upper Rio Grande below South Fork, pure beauty:Rio Grande below Creede

And the Ute Park Fire scar:Ute Park Fire

And Wolf Creek Pass: miles and miles of this…DSC06505

But also, Prairie dogs, butterflies, and ravens:DSC06522Plebejus icarioidesDSC06525

Mmmmm. Grasshopper head.

I found this 2015 video from my classroom terrarium days, teaching biology. I can almost hear her saying, “Chomp, chomp. What’re you lookin’ at?”

Shivering thermogenesis is used by moths to raise their body temperature high enough to permit flight. This allows them to fly when butterflies can’t.

Clark’s nutcrackers are important seed dispersers, as they can’t always remember where all of their stashes are buried.

Northern flickers feed on ants whenever can find a ready trove. This one’s serious.

White ibises have the advantage of a very long beak, so they don’t have to stick their heads completely into the dirt like a flicker does.