Anna Gibbs picked up on my catchphrase for her piece in Audubon about birders becoming master naturalists.
- Peter Dreier for the Conversation: “five unsung labor movies, all based on real-life events, that, in my view, deserve more attention.”
- ChatGPT makes up stuff about John Kelly.
Perhaps the computer program trawled through the multiverse and found a timeline in which John Kelly had nabbed a Pulitzer for his “thoughtful musings on Twiggy, the water-skiing squirrel, and how weird it is that Sugar Pops are now called Corn Pops.”
- At Shorpy, a fine photo of a D.C. Transit streetcar (not a PCC this time).
- ICYMI: The U.S. Geological Survey is collecting dead lepidopterans found by community scientists in AL, GA, KS, NE, OK, and TX.
- An exploration of the oeuvre of Neil Breen (of Double Down and several others).
A couple highlights (and a lowlight) from Sunday’s count.
We got good looks (no pix) of a Comet Darner zipping across one of the ponds at Leopold’s.
And along Broad Run behind the houses adjacent to Leopold’s, my first encounter with Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) in life.
Since I knew the track at Silver Lake, I changed to my more comfortable shoes so that I could keep up with Larry until nearly 16:00.
- It’s about damn time: Fairfax “County will officially rename L** and L**-J*cks*n Memorial highways next month.”
- Jacob Fenston on the current moderate drought condition in the DMV.
- Team develops autonomous robot to stave off spotted lanternflies. I wish that phys.org didn’t have to finance itself with skeevy ads.
- Benj Edwards bought an encyclopedia that doesn’t require Wi-Fi or USB.
- Adverse effects on South American farmers of pesticides used on coffee grown in the sun: “skin disorders, respiratory problems, to high blood pressure, organ damage, cancer and cardiovascular disease.” Elsewhere, In Hawaiʻi, trials are underway to control Coffee Berry Borer with a parasitic wasp, Phymastichus coffea.
- Tasty. Might tempt me back to eating beef: Rachel Leah Blumenthal discloses “The Mysterious Origins of Steak Tips, a Uniquely New England Dish.”
- Missy Dunaway paints the birds of Shakespeare, including the unloved Eurasian Starling (Sturnus vulgaris). She explains Hotspur’s joke, and pulls in Fugate and Miller’s debunking of the Central Park urban legend.
- Grace Abels asks, “Can ChatGPT fact-check?” “While sometimes reaching accurate conclusions, ChatGPT struggled to give consistent answers, and sometimes was just plain wrong.”
- Beautiful small pleasures, One: Tap dancing in the New York subway. “The notes that you’re not playing also have just as much importance as the notes you do play.”
- Beautiful, small pleasures, Two: David Greer tastes a wild strawberry. Epicureans vs. Stoics. 3QD has a problem with crapola ads, too.
- Mr. and Mrs. Pickles have three baby tortoises! Cuter than cute.
- They were gone before I knew what to call them: David W. Dunlap of The New York Times remembers reader ads.
- “I can’t define it, but I’m against it.” Also from the Times, Nate Cohn attempts a definition of woke and what it portends.
… much of what woke is grasping toward: a word to describe a new brand of righteous, identity-conscious, new left activists eager to tackle oppression, including in everyday life and even at the expense of some liberal values.
* * *
In the most extreme case for Democrats, the backlash against the new left could end in a repeat of how New Left politics in the 1960s facilitated the marriage of neoconservatives and the religious right in the 1970s. Back then, opposition to the counterculture helped unify Republicans against a new class of highly educated liberals, allowing Southern opponents of civil rights to join old-school liberal intellectuals who opposed Communism and grew skeptical of the Great Society. The parallels are imperfect, but striking.
- Isobel Novick stans webbing clothes moths (Tineola bisselliella).
These moths, unfortunately for those with infestations, have other behaviors that contribute to their indestructibility. They can metabolize their own water as a byproduct of keratin digestion, so access to water is not a dealbreaker for survival. What kind of organism can create its own water? This moth has evolved to be an efficient, dynamic, super-survival machine. They are incredibly temperature tolerant, with the ability to survive as eggs or larvae for several days at broiling temperatures as high as 95 degrees F and as far below freezing as 5 degrees F. They are attracted to the smell of woolens, and once established, send pheromonal signals to nearby moths to invite them to party. To add to their tank-like nature, webbing clothes moths can digest toxic metals like arsenic, mercury, and lead. They have no problem metabolizing synthetic materials or chewing through soft plastics. They have even been found on mummified human remains and have been around long enough to be mentioned in the Bible.
- 17th-18th century tomfoolery: dummy boards.
It was only a matter of time before it showed up here: Fairfax County launches plan to combat invasive spotted lanternfly in parks.
Back to the area around the Clifton Institute for my first NABA Butterfly Count. We visited an extensive pollinator garden on private property (thanks to Shane’s Signs), a gravelled patch of Thoroughfare Road adjacent to a wetland mitigation project (photo), and a private horse farm. In the pollinator garden I made my first acquaintance of one of our hummingbird moth species (Hemaris thysbe) who were going gangbusters—not on our checklist, but still. I found the first of a few Sleepy Oranges (Abaeis nicippe) and Juniper Hairstreaks (Callophrys gryneus) that we tallied, and was finally able to twitch Peck’s Skipper (Polites peckius). Stephanie Mason pointed out this critter to me ages ago (“Peck’s have checks”) but that was before I started listing butterflies. But dang, skippers burn me out fast. We saw so many Sachems (Atalopedes campestris) in all their variability that the mental key began, “Is this skipper not a Sachem?”
No lie, it was hot. We started at 08:00 and I began to flag at 11:00. I am finding that a few hours of heat tends to make my feet swell in the waterproof light hikers that I usually wear. I was grateful for the jug of lemonade at the tally rally back at Clifton.
No luck getting good images of the two common saddlebags species, but I did snap some reasonable images of Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella) and what turned out to be Citrine Forktail (Ischnura hastata). Dang, those pond damsels are tricky. The best spot in our sector for pond damsels was again the pond behind The Farm Brewery at Broad Run. You know, the place with the axe-throwing barn.
Last Sunday was plenty hot, and we pooped out by 15:00 except for leader Larry. His pro tip for finding Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens) is to check the parking lot: the critter has a tendency to mistake a car roof for a puddle.
Neonics aren’t just bad for pollinators. As Shauna Stephenson reports, aquatic invertebrates are also adversely affected, which is bad news for fish.
When I’m puzzling out the ID of a hairstreak or swallowtail, I depend on Cech and Tudor’s essential Butterflies of the East Coast: An Observer’s Guide (2005). The book has one significant flaw, however: to look up a species, the index doesn’t indicate the page where the main entry appears. No boldface or italics. The index for Monarch cites 24 different pages.
So, I fixed it, in part: Index to Cech and Tudor, Butterflies of the East Coast: An Observer’s Guide, main entry, by common name.
They’re coming! It’s the summer of glacier ice worms (Mesenchytraeus spp.).
Martin R. Kalfatovic says so long to Brood X with some detailed materials from the Biodiversity Heritage Library.
What to do when cicadas crash your outdoor wedding? Embrace the buzz:
And remember: At the very least, cicadas make for a memorable wedding. “It was actually quite fun to lean into the cicada theme,” [Lauren] Migaki said. “My little brother wore a cicada bolo tie; our favors were cicada-shaped chocolates with caramel pop rocks; and I donned a pair of gold cicada earrings for the reception in our backyard.”
“I loved hearing the noise of them in the trees above us,” she added, “feeling like we had hundreds of wedding guests.”