pseudomethoca simillima

Justin Orvel Schmidt is an American entomologist, author of The Sting of the Wild, and creator of the Schmidt sting pain index. According to him, the sting of a velvet ant is a 3 out of 4, equivalent to having boiling oil poured all over your hand.

Just another fun fact shared by the irrepressible Trisha Nicols on Insectopia.

malibu lagoon

Different angle on a favourite view. Lots of people walked by as I was sketching, and many commented kindly. My favourite was a woman who said to her young son, “Look! An artist!” then to me, “He wants to be an artist when he grows up.”

“Well,” he corrected, “a kind of artist. I want to be a photographer. I have a real camera, not a phone. I can take pictures underwater!”

“Sounds like you’re already an artist,” I smiled.

phyllocnistis citrella

The citrus leafminer is a very small, light coloured moth that arrived in California from Mexico in 2000 and has now spread throughout most of California. I’ve never seen an adult, but the larval action is very evident in my yard, especially on the young lime trees. They only infest fresh growth, which of course is just about all a little tree has!

I’ve been removing the affected leaves, but today I read that it’s not a good idea, because it just creates even more fresh growth for the larvae to mine. Apparently the insects will die off over the cooler months; here’s hoping, too, that natural predators come along to help create balance.

lagopus lagopus

Willow ptarmigans (Lagopus lagopus) in the Arctic change colour throughout the year, from completely brown in mid-summer to completely white in mid-winter. The transition (which starts from the head and moves down) is triggered by changing day length, not by temperature.

With a warming Arctic, we are now seeing snow-white birds in a snow-less landscape. Where once they were perfectly camouflaged as the seasons changed, now they are sitting ‘ducks’ for predators. The climate change is happening too quickly for them to evolve to meet the new conditions.

The willow ptarmigan’s scientific name, Lagopus lagopus is derived from Ancient Greek lagos (λαγως) ‘hare’ + pous (πους) ‘foot’, in reference to the bird’s feathered feet which allow it to negotiate frozen ground.

Thanks, Max Romey, for introducing me to this bird and its story.