Yes, it does sound like a medieval incantation of doom. This is one for you from Nature’s Book of Bad Dreams. Seems we have among us a fungus that infects periodic cicadas in a most bizarre and ghoulishly effective way. So if you find said insect with its back half white, it is a flying salt-shaker of death to others of its kind. It will not turn you into anything more or less than what you have been. OTOH… The white pustule is a …

A Cicadian Pox of Conidial Pustules Read more »

We rounded the bend on Griffith Creek last week to find a hundred yards of creekside lined thickly with a flat-topped pink-flowered shrub I recognized as Spirea, a member of the rose family. But the members of the genus I was familiar with are knee-high wildflowers, not shrubs. And seeing the extent of this population, I suspected it was spreading without threat of disease or predators, because it was “not from these parts.” I sometimes wish I did not notice the invasives that are …

What Native Plants? Read more »

I’d never seen a horntail wasp until I saw this one last week, but knew at a glance what it was. Note the horn on the tail, just above its rather short, stout ovipositor. It is NOT a stinger. And so now, I have familiarity with both the predator and the prey. How they interact is truly amazing, and a story I had known about for decades. This short video below shows excellent details of the Ichneumonid’s remarkable way of getting its egg onto …

(extra)Ordinary Nearby Nature Read more »

It seemed simple enough. On the Blue Ridge Parkway on the way back from an oil change yesterday, and in no particular hurry. I pulled off to the shoulder of the road and grabbed my camera (which you can also use as a phone! Really!) and walked back a hundred yards to a nicely-lit display of surrealistically-orange Butterfly milkweed. I grabbed a couple of shots and brought them home. But as so often happens, looking and thinking back to this ordinary moment with this …

Pollinia: How Milkweeds Do It Read more »

The phrase “global syndemic” immediately drew my sustained attention when it first appeared as a result of an initiative and study produced by the science journal Lancet in January of this year. tldr: Scroll down to the 3 minute video explanation. Most folks know PANdemic as an outbreak of illness that brings about large-scale loss of health, impacting whole continents or multiple continents. A SYNdemic is a cluster of related pandemics–a synergistic epidemic. The bad news is that together, their impact is greater than …

Global Syn-WHAT? Read more »