Saturday, August 13, 2011

Back In Our Own Backyard

Before vacation we had around 20 Black Swallowtail caterpillars that we knew would pupate before we returned. On our return we found a whole new bunch. This time there are around 50 and they have pretty much wiped out all the food plants on the deck. Right now they are reduced to eating stems and stalks. Its always the same this time of year. Its a race against time to pupate before the food runs out entirely but already we know where half a dozen have tucked themselve away so there is still hope to get some more shots of emerging butterflies

Meanwhile the little spider residing in the rosemary bush is still there and has grown considerably. Her true yellow and black coluration is showing now and I suspect shes actually going to have to make a move soon. The space the web occupies now isnt going to be big enough for much longer.

On the trip north we took a break at a rest-stop in Maryland where I saw the biggest Argiopes I've ever seen. She had built a web across the windows of the information centre and it couldn't be reached or disturbed because of flower beds and shrubs. Alas she couldn't be photograped easily either. Which is a shame as the web was close to 5 feet across. 

Not all our spiders are such giants. This little jumping spider is only about 5mm long but one of the pleasures of macrophotography is that you can see how handsome the little beast is, close to.

Not all our Swallowtails are black. The state butterfly of Virginia is the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus). This one was in the front yard on Wednesday resting its 4+ inch wingspan in a tree.

It appears to be a male
as the female would have far more blue on the edge of the hind wing. The male has just these little spots. 

Talking of State flora and fauna reminded me of Brit's discovery over at Think of England of the existance of the state crustacean of Oregon. Its good to see that the Oregon State legislature is so gainfully employed. Just as an aside I personally think its unfair that 7 states get to pick the cardinal as their avian image. First come first served I say. Once one has been taken go find your own. Its only fair that some of the ugly birds get a chance.

And I'm reminded of my age again by The Old Batsman who writes splendidly as ever, this time on Geoffrey Boycott. The occassion is the 34th anniversary of his 100th first class century made on his home ground of Headingley against the old enemy Australia. I remember it so well. It was the summer of my  'A'  levels. A note to my american readers, this refers to cricket which I know is an ineffable mystery to you all. But please do read his piece, its the sort of sports writing thats sadly absent here in the USA where people care far too much about just winning. The British can play one game of cricket for 5 days and not mind at all if it ends in a draw. That mindset makes for contemplative and considered journalism.
Especially priceless is a quote from the late great John Arlott, the epitome of 'a gentleman and a scholar'.  He observed of Boycott's slow but ever so sure style and his supposed 'selishness';

‘No man is an island, but he has batted as though he is a particularly long peninsula.’

 And finally today...

Whats this?

Its sitting on my finger. And I'll tell you all about it tomorrow

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