Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Early Show

The first of the very early Black Swallowtails emerged this morning from the pupa on the overwintered fennel plant.

I went out at around 10.00 not really expecting them today but this one was already emerged and the wings were pretty much dried out. I actually moved it from the overgrown and shadowed fennel to the dill on the deck for a better view and better light. Just happily perched on my finger while I moved it across.

This is a male based on all that yellow on the upper side of the wings. The female has mainly blue.
The light was nice out there on the  deck for some close-ups.

You can see the individual scales that make up that striking pattern.

The first Black Swallowtail I know emerged last year was one I just missed on 26th JUNE last year thats a whole month later than this year. Down to having the fennel out so early after over-wintering in a sheltered corner and the whole winter and spring being so mild

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Spiders And the Fly

Just a couple of spiders and an interesting fly today. While its been warm the last week its also been breezy which is the macrophotographers enemy and most days, by the time I've reached home the pop-up thunder storms have popped up and kept me out of the yard.

The spiders are both little jumpers.

This little Phiddipus was living above the front door but I was forced to relocate it before Mrs B spotted it and terminated with extreme prejudice. It has been moved to a safe house the location of which I will not reveal under any circumstances so dont ask!  

And in the back yard on one of the buddleia was this Hentzia, looks like H. mitrata but my spider ID skills are just awful. I've just given up posting spiders at BugGuide at anything closer than Order level due to my always being wrong.

The fly, who incidently didn't fall victim to either of the two above so far as I know, is a Signal Fly of some sort I think. A member of the family Platystomatidae. Maybe even of the genus Rivellia, but I'm very likely wrong about that last bit.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I Had Always Intended... Part the Fourth

Mandy Hay wrote an insane tract: "Index to Lewd, If Idle, Phobias"

We spit anew and half-heartedly stab Dixon, an embryonic idiot.

A Tory, half-wit and xenophobic ass wailed, damned in eternity

Thursday, May 17, 2012

More Firsts

As I said before, we are seeing pretty much everything earlier this year after the very mild winter. Last weekend brought Eastern Pondhawks:

and Blue Dashers, sorry for the picture quality on this but it was the first:

Amazingly I also found we already have Black Swallowtails. When the hurricane came through last year we cleared some of the planters out early so we could get stuff into the garage. In so doing I dumped largely caterpillar consumed fennel plants into the compost in the corner of the yard. But they survived and thrived and so we now have a 4 foot fennel plant in the corner, much earlier than normal. When I checked it out at the weekend for interesting bugs I found 2 Swallowtail chrysalis. Thats way early and based on the past its strange that they actually stayed on the food plant. I guess as there were only the two this will work as the plant isn't going to be consumed by others before they emerge.

Nice to see Azures in the yard too. We see less of these blues than we do the Eastern Tailed Blues but they are pretty too in their more subtle way. These are likely Spring Azures but several species are really very tough to tell apart. You can see how small these are when they perch on a clover flower.

 And finally another variety in the iris bed. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

I Had Always Intended To Explain Episode 3

There were Eastern Pondhawks and Blue Dashers around the pond Sunday but I havent had time to download the pictures yet. One of those days when it was hard to get good pictures. Warm as it was it was still breezy and the dragonflies were fighting over the good perches and didnt any of them settle for long before they were chased off By the next. New artificial perches are needed too after the winter. I need to get some cattail stalks in place in my favourite little bay.

But for today here are a couple more examples of men with too much time on their hands from "I Had Always Intended To Explain How I Bred Certain Of My Ants" 

We daintily open Max's tatty, rancid brain when he is dead. Fool!

And I once heard Lex play a nasty din made with bits of wet iron.

Drawings, as ever by Chris Atton, these being 'After Robert Fludd "  aka Robertus de Fluctibus .
Don't you wish you were aka  Robertus de Fluctibus?

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Year's First Skimmer

Here is the first Skimmer (family Libellulidae)  of 2012. It is a teneral (newly emerged) female Common Whitetail (Plathemis lydia) . I found her on the window screen last night. That she is newly emerged is  evident because her wings are so perfectly clear and shiny. I had to check that it wasn't a 12 Spotted Skimmer as the females are very similar. But no such luck. Its all down to the colour of the stripes on the thorax. These are pure yellow in the 12 Spotted but yellow shading to white in the Whitetail as here:

And yes she is perched on my finger. Last night was a little cooler and she was very docile. I got some closeups like this and then put her back somewhere with a little better cover than the white window frame.

I looked back to last year and I didnt see my first Whitetail until May 30th. It was a male already turned blue though, so it was a few days old at that point. Still it seems we are a little earlier than 2011 and hardly suprising considering the extremely mild winter and warm spring.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

"Daddy I found something really interesting. Come see"

Banished Jr was sitting on the deck drinking his juice while I checked out the yard for bugs. I wasn't finding much that was too exciting when Jr. came down to join me and told me he'd found 'something really interesting' and that I needed to come and look. And indeed he had. I'd gone around the edges of the yard checking out the garden areas. He sat on the deck and just looked about 5 feet in front of him and saw this.
It is a female Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta) and she was just  done digging a hole to lay her eggs. This is right in the middle of the yard and a easily 50 yards from the pond but this is what turtles do. Perhaps its to ensure that the ground where they lay doesnt become waterlogged and the eggs 'drown'. She wet the ground somehow before she started, note the mud behind her. The ground wasn't that wet so I'm thinking  she maybe added her own way or another. Anyway she didnt seem to mind us being close by and so we sat on the picnic-table bench and watched her laying her eggs. So far as I saw she laid 6 though she might have got on in before we found her.

The laying took about 15 minutes and then she started to push and pull the soil and mud back over the top of the eggs. This took her another half hour or so of very diligent work   before she moved off back across the grass. Once she was done with the burying you really couldn't tell where she had been. If we hadn't seen her laying we would never have known she was there at all but for a patch of slightly damp earth that dried in another 5 and disappeared into the background.

The gestation period for the eggs is apparently around 72 days.
Bad news is this would take it right smack into the middle of our vacation week in the mountains. But they are eggs, I'm sure there is a degree of flexiblity in that date. So maybe a little earlier or a little would let us catch the hatch. I've found the discarded shells on the slopes around the pond many times but haven't yet seen the hatch or the babies on their way back to water. Here's hoping. I put a marker on the grass so we can remember  where the heck they are. I'm pretty sure they are deep enough and well covered so the mower isn't going to bother them in the slightest. No excuse not to cut the grass then :-(

All I found new was an Orchard Orbweaver (Leucauge venusta ) who has set up home between the the newly sprouting ginger-lily and the beardtongue  and already had herself a damsel for dinner.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

I Had Always Intended..... Pt2

Ian in a dirty wallow next to bits of machinery and dead sheep...

...and I, Tony Brown, in a nice fix as my head adheres to a pitted wall.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I Had Always Intended To Explain How I Bred Certain Of My Ants (Out of Print)

Once upon a time when I was a Certain Ant we released a cassette called 'I Had Always Intended To Explain How I Bred Certain Of My Ants'. All the titles were anagrams of Certain Ants such as 'At Ten Cairns' and 'Ran at Inset C'. So when we were looking at releasing the next recordings it was natural to want to title those pieces using anagrams of 'I Had Always Intended...etc etc" Well you would, wouldn't you?

Now the release of these recordings has been delayed. It has been delayed around 20 years so far. So way back when I was wondering what to do with the 75 plus 50 letter anagrams I'd generated using Scrabble tiles and a big tray. I decided a small pamphlet was called for and asked my fellow Ant Chris Atton to provide some illustrations. I gave him 20 some anagrams and he came back with drawings to accompany them.

We made 25 copies I think. Where are they now? Well I have 1 and a second one ornately hand-bound by my friend Jim who is now Associate Director for Digital Programs and Preservation at the Boston Athenaeum but at the time was just my mail-art buddy. Jim has one bound copy and I think he has another in some library collection of hand-bindings in Scotland(?). The Ants likely have one each somewhere but the rest were frittered away at gigs.

I found Chris's original drawings the other day and it struck me it might make a fun project, OK a useful filler, here at Banished's Bugs. So the plan is to post the illustrations and their accompanying anagrams over the next few weeks, months, whatever and whenever there is the space and time.

So to give you a taste here are 3 to start with.

I'd need a handy cabin for toil in Walt Eider's waxy potash mine.

What made Don Fix poison Len Nye with deadly arsenic rat-bait?

 A tiny rent-man hides a failed spherical body next to a window

More to follow. Even if you behave, I'm sorry