Not a granary weevil, but a more looksome relative. From Pixabay.

Spontaneous generation? They just are there–in the five pound bag of flour you just brought home yesterday. There, in the mixing bowl that was going to hold the biscuits for dinner, but now, in a puff of white smoke, ground grains with tiny hard beetles go into the burn pit out back. But don’t blame the insects. They are just doing what they do to make a living, wingless though they are. They have learned to hitch-hike around the world over the past few …

The Root of All Weevil Read more »

I happened through a fairly mature oak-hickory forest on the grounds of Warm Hearth Retirement Community yesterday. With the road being surfaced, the woods became the alternative route to my car parked well beyond the paving trucks. I smelled them before I saw them–an amazing assortment, probably a dozen species–of mushroom, flushed into the above-ground world by the ample rains we have had since Florence passed through a few weeks back. Gathered, the three clusters of Hen-of-the-Woods would have totalled probably 10 pounds. They …

Fruits of Florence: Fecundity of Fungi Read more »

In an earlier column I confessed my (and my hapless wife’s) checkered association with snakes and so I suppose it’s a short step to admit that I also have an inordinate admiration as well for insects–for joint-legged animals (arthropods) in general, I suppose, even including spiders. There. I’ve said it. They have fascinated me for countless hours over the course of a long life as a bug-watcher. In miniature, inside an armor-plated exoskeleton of a crayfish or millipede, wasp or butterfly exists all the …

Already Missing the Insects of Autumn Read more »

I recently had the opportunity to ask one of the most knowledgeable botanists I know as many pertinent questions out of my confused and confusing plants folder as I could tastefully work into the conversation. “Have you run across Giant Hogweed on your place?” He lives on a sizable parcel of Floyd County property that he knows well, both as a farmer and as a retired botany-educated professional. He said “Why yes I have.” It had recently been observed in Virginia, but not the …

Giant Hogweed is Here Read more »

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 »