Monday, September 8, 2008

Mostly Insects

If you don't like bugs much, you'll want to skip today's post, but for everyone else, I've got a good variety of some insects to share with you that I've seen in the last few days. (Remember, you can click on any of these pictures to get a super-sized look at them!)

Last Thursday, we went out to the woods again to check and move the trail cameras. During our hike through the woods, I almost stepped into this 'foot-sized' hole filled with yellowjackets. YIKES! I was following Mr. Johnson and he must have walked right past it. Of course, I had to stop and try to figure out what these insects were doing. Because I didn't want to get too close, I counted on my zoom for a better look. It appeared that all of these yellowjackets were swarming on something, but I couldn't tell what (poop? a small dead animal?) My insect field guide says that the Eastern Yellowjacket (common in Minnesota) nests underground (usually in abandoned rodent burrows).
I had a short video clip to download also, but Blogger is feeling contrary tonight and I'll have to try that another time.

On our way back to the car, I almost stepped on this spider web right next to the crushed rock road. My insect field guide only has one page of spiders, but I'm guessing this is some sort of garden spider. It was quite large!
The web is quite visible due to the fact that it's coated with dust from all the car traffic kicking up dust on the road.

We went down again yesterday morning to check the cameras and I spotted this Eastern Comma Butterfly basking in the sun on a soybean plant.
Fortunately my patience paid off and I was able to get a wonderful picture of this butterfly with its wings open. I found out from my field guide that this is the "winter form" of coloring for the Eastern Comma. In the summer, their hindwing is almost entirely black.

Mr. Johnson brought me something special from his afternoon walk today. I had Sophie out in the backyard for a walk and I saw him go up on the deck and holler into the house for me. "I'm over here," I yelled back at him from the yard and I could see he had something in his hand. "C'mere, look at what I found for you," he said. I was thinking maybe a toad or something, but he was clutching a handful of leaves with this creature crawling on top.
Know what it is? I didn't but it was pretty huge and gross looking, so I figured maybe it was a caterpillar for a large butterfly or moth. I googled "caterpillar identification" and found the "what's this caterpillar" site that showed pictures of a similar caterpillar for the Pandora Sphinx Moth. Then I googled that name and found out more about the Pandora Sphinx Moth on Wikipedia.
I gotta tell ya, Mr. Johnson never ceases to amaze me......nothin' says "Love" like bringing a giant caterpillar home, does it?

And just to confirm what a swell guy he is, take a look at this early birthday present he got for me. I have one of those awful birthdays ending in a "ZERO" coming up in a few weeks and he wanted to get me something special that would keep my mind off the actual birthday by distracting me with something I would really enjoy. I didn't even have to hint very much for this.....

Thanks Honey Bunny! You are THE MAN!

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And for all of you who have placed a bid on my hat for auction (or are still thinking about placing a bid), please click on this link for Kristy's blog and look at all the hats she's received--820!! What a tremendous response.


jan m said...

I'm glad I read to the end (I'm not crazy about insects...)That is a great birthday present! Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

I looked at Kristy's blog, it is ABSOLUTELY UNBELIEVABLE that she's taking that many hats, and they are every color in the rainbow.

What a nice early birthday present from Mr Johnson, how did he know just what you needed for that -0 th birthday. You'll be zeroing in on everything and anything. HAVE FUN!


Debbie said...

Interesting blog, Ruthie. I just love anything to do with nature, even if bugs are a bit creepy. My little guy walked into one of those yellow jacket nests when we were out hiking a few years ago. Poor guy got several stings. Those hurt! Glad you avoided them.

That is a very large caterpillar. I'll have to look up what the moth will look like!

Wow, way to go Mr. Johnson on the birthday gift. That looks great. I've always wanted a spotting scope, but have not indulged yet. It would be so much nicer to get as a gift. Maybe I better start dropping hints!

Mary said...

Ruthie, AWESOME!

Mr. Johnson's the man...

"I gotta tell ya, Mr. Johnson never ceases to amaze me......nothin' says "Love" like bringing a giant caterpillar home, does it?"

This made me howl. I get all excited when Mr. Ferracci finds a toad, calls me "c'mere!" and gently places it on a pond rock!!!

What a great early birthday gift. 4-0, ey? Lucky you. I loved the 30's and 40's.


Lynne said...

That Mr. Johnson is a doll! A giant bug AND a super-cool spotting scope from Eagle Optics! There really are some wonderful guys aren't there. (I got oone too!)

Mary C said...

Ruthie, that is a whopper of a caterpillar! Wow! And what a wonderful BD gift. I ordered one online about six weeks ago and still haven't received it yet. It's been out of stock and I'm getting antsy about it because I was wanting to have it for a few upcoming birding events I'm planning to attend. You will surely enjoy that beautiful spotting scope.

RuthieJ said...

I'm glad you read to the end too Jan. I'm not crazy about insects inside the house, but outside where they belong they're a lot less creepy!

Hi Mom,
Wasn't that photo of the hats on the fence astounding? I think Kristy was pretty overwhelmed by the response. The power of knitters & bloggers is pretty amazing!
I've got the spotting scope set up by the basement patio door. Rick wondered if it was powerful enough to see a bunny rabbit's eyelashes and I'm pleased to report that it is!

Hi Debbie,
How awful for your little guy! I never even knew yellowjackets nested in a hole (I'll have to be more watchful now!)
If you click on the words Pandora Sphinx Moth in my post, it will take you right to the Wikipedia link and a picture of the moth right on top. I bet you've seen these in your gardens too.
Hope you get a scope too--it even works really well in my big backyard.

Hi Mare,
I figured you would enjoy the part about caterpillar "love." It's always nice to know they're big ol' softies at heart.
I loved my 30's too, still reserving judgement on the 40's and don't even want to think about 50! OK, well it's only a number, right? if I don't mind, it won't matter.

Hi Lynne,
I seem to remember Eagle Optics got pretty good reviews on this Raven Scope. Our WBU store had it on sale, and I think it's going to be a really great addition to all of my other great birding gear.
Art got you that really nice camera lens, didn't he? Those guys sure figured out the way to our hearts, didn't they? ;-)

Oh Mary, 6 weeks? I would be antsy too! Hopefully you'll have it before you leave for New Mexico and the cranes!

Jayne said...

Wow, and I thought he loved you oodles when he brought you the caterpillar! What a great birthday gift!!!! :c)

Trixie said...

Mr. Johnson is da man! What an interesting caterpillar and a beautiful scope. You are a lucky girl.

Kristy's hats are amazing. I was so very touched. I do hope her trip goes well.

Julie said...

I like bugs, but not yellowjackets or other stinging bugs! I also learned that I don't like salamander, assuming thats what it was. It scared me bad. I had gotten out at a wild life area and was checking out the toad/frog. He didn't bother me, but that thing (salamander?) did. Yikes! I hadn't ever seen one before!
Congrats on the gifts - both of them!

Shellmo said...

Wow - the spider was big & scary but fascinating at the same time. Liked the comma butterfly. And what an awesome bday present!!

Kathy said...

Fantastic pics and info on the caterpillar. Love the bugs and the knitting, both!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

WOW a caterpillar AND a scope all in one week. You are a lucky lady Ruthie. Happy Birthday a little early. Boy I know this doesn't mean much. Wish I could send you a caterpillar to make you know I mean it.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Jayne,
I agree, that caterpillar was pretty neat, but the spotting scope is even better!

Hi Trixie,
I was amazed by Kristy's hats too--remember when she first started and she wondered whether she'd even get 300? I'm glad you let me know about her project way back when!

Hi Julie,
I try to keep my distance from wasp-like insects too. I haven't seen a salamander for years, but we used to see some bigs ones--always startling if you weren't expecting to see one!

Hi Shelley,
That spider was HUGE and I tried to keep a respectful distance. The butterfly was beautiful with the sun shining on it. It was kind of chilly that morning too, so it was enjoying just basking on that leaf.

Thanks Kathy, I'm glad you enjoyed them.

Hi Lisa,
your comment made me :-D. Your big caterpillar wishes are accepted and appreciated!

KGMom said...

Ruthie--Happy B-day in advance.
Awww--don't mind the birthdays ending in 0--at least you're still alive and kicking!