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 »

One of my favorite features on the trip to town along 221 this time of year is the wildflower assortment, the “unplanted garden” in which yellow is disproportionately well represented. Much less familiar than the yellow-rayed Black Eyed Susans or the soon-to-come goldenrod y is this yellow (or lady’s) bedstraw.  The flowers can only be seen individually if you stop your car (near Ray’s Rest for instance) and look carefully. The leaves remind me of the thready foliage of dill. About this plant, Wikipedia …

Spontaneous Flora of Floyd Read more »

Don’t know about you, but for us, spring happened on Saturday (20 April.) By Sunday, the foliage of almost all trees was at least barely emerged, if not half-way, the sun setting spring colors ablaze. It is a different orange, pink and red than fall leaf-change. The plant tissues are so early formed that light passes through the leaf tissue more than it is reflected off. I think I actually prefer springs delicate to fall’s bold palette. And there are SO MANY different greens! …

Spring at Full Tilt Read more »

This Slimey Salamander has nothing to do with this post but readers pass on by without eye candy.

Once again, I’m taking the easy way out. I’m happy to share–need to, even–lest I finally accept the  eddys are good enough and just hush. So nothing fancy. No eye candy. Just the facts, m’am. Not surprisingly, it is the fellow creatures we live with that draw my amazement, admiration and respect–not to mention the previously-intact ecosystems that gave rise to them, many of which are now on their way off the page of history occupied so completely and with such a heavy hand …

Who Thinks Up These Beings Anyways? Read more »