Yet another spider web. This one, freshly minted, just opened for business. Another day, another web. If you’re an orb-weaver, it’s your work. It’s what you do. No big deal. But I never tire of wondering how the radians are calculated so that each turn is just so, and the next inner-loop just exactly follows within an eighth of an inch the loop before, all the way to the office–that position in the center at the junction of a vertical and a horizontal raceway …

All in a Day’s Web Read more »

The intricate design of the Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) was a marvel for me in 1970 when I was a student on a field trip to the Smokies from Auburn University. Systematic Botany was a wake-up call to a budding zoologist who should not think there was little to learn from fixed, do-nothing greenery. I declared a botany minor after that field trip. Laurel’s ten spring-tethered anthers (the pollen package) are arranged radially around the receptive stigma–the female part–in the very center of the flower. …

Plant Ballistics: Mountain Laurel’s Explosive Pollen Bullets Read more »

I was alerted of a low tire by the pressure sensor dashboard light before I reached the hardtop one day last week. So I pulled off at the next wide place along our gravel road and plugged in the small pump we keep in the car for just such a purpose. And while waiting for the few minutes it would take the pump to make the warning light go off, I wandered the edge of the woods in thick shade of Rhododendrons and failing …

Not New To Science But To Me: Spikenard Read more »

As if I knew this beauty–or even did the work to key it out for myself. I’d never seen it, and failing in a five-minute scroll of Google and Bing images of North American caterpillars, I resorted to a kind of benign cheating. I posted the image to the Caterpillar Identification group on FB at 4:20 this morning and less than an hour later, had a correct ID. Many thanks! So I’ve gathered a few resources to store away with this new fact (yes, …

Abbott’s Sphinx Moth Caterpillar Read more »

Regrettably, we have a long distance relationship with our grand daughters. Looking back a couple of decades from now, their memories of their mother’s parents will be sporadic visits to Goose Creek or on their home turf for a long weekend now and then. But I suppose they will have some solid recollection of the things we paid attention to: clouds, birds, flowers, and anything living. So when Ann and Taryn came across this roadkill on their coastal Carolina neighborhood walk last weekend, the …

Go Get Dumpa! Read more »