Posts Tagged Wildlife

Monthly Image: Cross-striped Cabbageworm

In the normal course of events, this critter would become an undistinguished brown moth:

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Right now, it’s a two-day-old cross-striped cabbageworm. Its kin are voracious consumers of Brassicacae out in the garden and Mary’s raising it as a show-n-tell exhibit for her Master Gardener compadres; she advised it to not start any long novels.

Taken hand-held with the Pixel XL through a clip-on 10x macro lens.


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Monarch Caterpillar Windshield

The Monarch Butterfly egg produced a teeny caterpillar:

Monarch caterpillar - 3 mm - 2017-08-02

Monarch caterpillar – 3 mm – 2017-08-02

Each time it molts, it eats all of its skin except for the transparent cap over the first body segment:

Monarch Windshield - 2017-08-09

Monarch Windshield – 2017-08-09

If the rest of the caterpillar were behind the windshield, it’d be feet-upward with its “face” at the top.

The picture comes from a focus-stacked set of microscope images captured with VLC; I turned the positioner’s elevation knob the smallest possible amount between each of 16 images along the 1 mm (-ish) height of the capsule. This magic incantation applies more weight to high-contrast and high-entropy regions:

align_image_stack -C -a monarch vlcsnap-2017-08-09-18h4*
enfuse --contrast-weight=0.8 --entropy-weight=0.8 -o Monarch_Windshield.jpg monarch00*
# empty line to reveal underscores in previous line

That came out pretty well.



The main cicada season has only begun, so these two may have emerged slightly too early:



They’re “ordinary” cicadas, not periodical cicadas, which certainly matters more to them than us.

They’re completely harmless, but definitely don’t look it:

Cicada 1 - ventral

Cicada 1 – ventral

Their topside armor would look great on a robot:

Cicada 2 - dorsal

Cicada 2 – dorsal

Found ’em dead on the driveway, alas.


Monarch Butterfly Egg

We watched a female Monarch Butterfly lay eggs on the stand of milkweed behind the house. She also found a lone plant in the vegetable garden that’s now standing in a vase on the kitchen table where we can keep an eye on the proceedings.

So far, so good:

Monarch Butterfly Egg on Milkweed Leaf - 2017-07-29

Monarch Butterfly Egg on Milkweed Leaf – 2017-07-29

I never knew Monarch eggs were so elaborate!

Captured with the VGA-resolution USB camera atop the zoom microscope, with VLC applying automagic gamma and level adjustment.

Focus-stacking the three best images helps the ribs toward the leaf, but not by much:

Monarch Egg - focus stacked

Monarch Egg – focus stacked

After picking out the images, all of which bear VLC’s auto-generated names like vlcsnap-2017-07-29-09h26m25s720.png, stack them thusly:

align_image_stack -C -a milkweed *png
enfuse -o Monarch.jpg milkweed000*

Tinkering with the options might improve things, but … maybe next time.

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New Frogs!

Either Mama Frog picked a bad location or these little critters fell over the edge, as I found a handful in the big stainless steel bowl Mary uses for spot-watering some of her plantings:

Small frogs in bowl

Small frogs in bowl

The bowl curves inward over their heads and their feet didn’t seem sticky enough to get them up and out, so I dumped the lot of them into the flower bed. May they live long & prosper!

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Monthly Image: Mystery Lizard

We found this critter keeping a watchful eye on the construction at Adams Fairacre Farms during our most recent grocery trip:

Mystery frilled lizard - detail

Mystery frilled lizard – detail

I think it’s an undocumented alien that entered the US stowed away in a tropical plant, because it was affixed to the array of ceramic pots outside their (open) greenhouse windows:

Mystery frilled lizard

Mystery frilled lizard

To the best of my admittedly limited herpetological knowledge, none of our native lizards / geckos / whatever have such a distinctive dorsal frill / fin / ridge. I have no idea how to look the critter up, though.

We left it to seek its own destiny. Unless it’s a mated female (hard to tell with lizards), it’ll have a lonely life.

Perhaps it practices rishratha, which is entirely possible.


Monthly Image: Great Blue Heron

This Great Blue Heron caught a bright orange goldfish in the Vassar Farm Pond just before I rode past, spotted the scene, and fumbled my camera out of the underseat bag.

The heron hurked the fish down, with the abrupt right-angle bend in its neck marking the fish’s current location:

Great Blue Heron - swallowing

Great Blue Heron – swallowing

A bit of wiggling & jiggling put the meal in the right place and the bird relaxed:

Great Blue Heron - ruminating

Great Blue Heron – ruminating

A postprandial flight around the pond apparently settled the fish:

Great Blue Heron - takeoff

Great Blue Heron – takeoff

It landed on a snag a few dozen feet from where it started, then proceeded to look regal:

Great Blue Heron - idling

Great Blue Heron – idling

Those things really do look like pterodactyls in flight!