Infrequent Fliers and Various Window Views

When the worker bee hatches she does nursery duty before progressing to guard duty at the entrance:

However they failed to stop the Carpenter Bee (big as a Bumble Bee) from almost drilling a 19 mm (3/4″) dia hole in the top honey box.

This is the view (thanks to Google) the honey bees inside would have had as Carpenter almost got through but obviously thought better when sighting the many honey frame workers, on the defensive no doubt (I’d love to have witnessed it):

I did have other window views:

Flying in Phoenix earlier this month was dry, turbulent and with lightning as soon as we entered this heavy dust cloud:

Other Arizona views were very dry:

I had the impression that thin meandering muddy river was responsible for the faint line of cloud.

A dammed river was the only other sign of water:

Landing in San Francisco once again provided that great view of the colorful old salt flats at the South end of the Bay:

Driving home from Detroit I saw a strange dark whispy cloud over the edge of Lake Erie:

I think that is the Mayfly, which I have seen close up before.

When I got home one was waiting for me on the window – a happy sign of summer coming:

Another flier found on my unused x-country ski trail was this beautiful Black Swallowtail butterfly:

The big attaction this month is the many bugs at Magee Marsh where migrating Warblers of many varieties stop to eat before crossing Lake Erie on their way North.  The birds are tired and hungry. Amazingly you can be close enough to even take cell phone photos despite the many bird watchers:

And just as though prompted by Darrel’s recent question as to what happened to the larva photo I had put in the blog last June, the bug, which had been in a pupa state encased in wood shavings for nearly a year, finally emerged. Now I need to know its name (it’s about 20 mm (7/8″) long)???:

The beetle was very glad to quickly scuttle back into the crack in the Catalpa tree where I’d first found it, after living for the last year and a half in a jar of damp wood particles.

Aphids, Fruit Flies, Bees & Meteorites – Errata, Omissions & Addenda

1.  I used insecticidal soap which wiped out the tiny black aphids (in my “Jungle In Here” blog) but unfortunately it also eliminated all the orchid blossoms.

2.  For the yellow aphids on the Oleander

 I’m now brushing them off with a fine brush and I have 2 good looking buds.

3.  I’d wrongly blamed my little red wiggler worms for creating the large wine-tasting fruit fly population. I seems that open wine bottles, even with surfactant detergent to discourage water walking, starts an orgy. I’ve no idea where they do it but next day there are hundreds more fruit flies, and all are thirsty.  Simply terminating the test eliminated them all, except for one or two teetotallers on a vase of cut flowers.

4.  One amazingly warm (7 C (45 F)) day last month (Jan.) allowed me to quickly opon the hive to check that the bees still had food:

Now I see I’ve left them too much and could have harvested more but they are all happy, even hatching a few eggs,

and I hope they were glad to see me evict one clump of about 20 small hive beetles.

Now (Feb 11) it’s below freezing, as normal for this time of year, and yesterday they licked, fanned or shoveled the snow out of their doorway all by their sweet little selves.

Meanwhile, last week in down-town Phoenix, I carefully examined street flowers and had only found one single insect, until I discovered white flowering Pear trees with many happy, pollen laden honey bees.

5.  Trying to walk to the Phoenix Botanical Gardens I saw a map location which said “U of Arizona Meteorite Collection”. There I learnt that the body of a meteorite coming in from deep space is very cold despite having a momentarily hot skin for the short time while it hits our atmosphere.  To prove it, the U of A collection has one with unsinged grass stuck to it. So that nullifies the hot rock experiment in my recent “Winter Works” blog, but it does improve the chance of finding one on cold clean frozen lakes because it won’t be hot enough to melt its way through the ice.

And as to their value: the last one above is a ‘Carbonaceous Chondrite’.  Bruce Draine’s “Physics of the Interstellar ..Medium”, p. 267, says that about 1/10 of 1% of the weight of that type is composed of Nanodiamonds! Unfortunately a nanodiamond is only about 2 nanometers across (about 1/200 the wavelength of blue light) so don’t expect to see any sparkle.

Scott F. has a good idea for finding meteorites: watch for a-typical stones when snorkling over flat sandy sheltered bays. They might lie there for a long time before getting covered.

Meanwhile I continue to check flat roof tops of taller buildings. These days they are often covered with light grey sheet plastic roofing material rather than the asphalt of old. Apart from bird droppings there is very little granular material up there.

Please let me know if you find one?

It’s a Jungle in Here

My wonderful indoor Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm/composter (totally odorless)

has little, millimeter size, “springers” in the basement swimming pool of “worm tea”

but they seem to be totally harmless; meanwhile the red wiggler worms toothlessly digest our fruit and vegetable peelings (see image below of the underneath of the top tray lifted up for the photo).

Each tray rests on the contents of the one below so the worms can travel easily up an down. After about 3 months they produce the most wonderfully beneficial vermi-castings for my indoor plants. Fresh food is in the top tray (left) – fresh worm castings are in the bottom one (right). 








But if I don’t put enough shredded newspaper on top of the peelings, especially bananas, it can grow fruit flies.  The best trap for fruit flies is a wine bottle with its “lees” (a good crossword puzzle word) plus a little water and a drop of liquid detergent so they sink instead of dancing on the surface of the wine.

But they are useful as totally independent and unbiased wine tasters: after one week they conclusively preferred (by a count of the happy drowned carcasses, and after adjusting for time exposed) a medium body Argentinian Malbec to a variety of California and New York Finger lake red and white wines, and even a Mexican Corona beer.  Francis Ford Coppola’s designer label Rosso fared very badly!

Meanwhile out in the conservatory my poisonous Oleander insists on producing tropical aphids despite occasional application of so-called ‘insecticidal soap’. Why anyone would ever label product that lists 1% “Active ingredient” and 99% “Other” is beyond me. (or why would I ever buy it?)








They have the strangest 3 tails, plus a big proboscis to suck the flower buds dry (photo below shows one on its back with the damaging nose visible).

Outside on the balcony the ants take care of them and the flowers are great in summer. Next winter I might have to invite the ants in too.

Now, to make matters worse, I’ve just discovered a similar 3 tailed form, but black color, aphid on an orchid from Ikea which has been nicely flowering for the last month (see the black dots on the top flower stems).








FYI, all the bug photos were simply taken by holding my cell phone lens to this simple 50 x magnifier.