Iceland

Here are all my favorite photos and videos from my recent trip to Iceland along with some ominous music I made: FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Close Encounters with Toxic Grasshoppers

Eastern lubber grasshoppers (Romalea microptera) are ridiculously photogenic. A combination of huge size, bright colors, and calm behavior makes them easy to find and photograph. The common name lubber comes from the old English word “lobre” meaning lazy or clumsy. If you guessed, based on behavior and coloration, that these are poisonous animals, you are correct. They accumulate toxic chemicals from the […]

Sumac Gall Aphids – Master Tricksters

I was walking around in a cemetery with a friend who spotted these strange balls on staghorn sumac leaves: I figured they were a galls, which are swellings in plants caused by parasitic fungi, bacteria, nematodes, or in most cases, insects and mites. It’s always fun to crack open galls to find out what is living […]

Colorful Symbioses

Lichen are a classic example of symbiosis. A fungus teams up with an algae or a cyanobacteria, the fungus use their digestive powers to extract nutrients from just about anything while also creating a nice home for the algae or cyanobacteria to turn sunlight into energy. They give and take, and together they can thrive in places where […]

Phenomenal Fen

Recently Chad Zirbel posted a photo of a stunning orange lily that I just had to see for myself. He directed me to a nearby high-quality prairie fen. This habitat is flooded with calcium-rich groundwater which selects for a unique community of plants, many of which are adapted to this specific habitat. The spongy peat and dense communities of […]

Marvelous Milkweed Herbivores

All plants are involved in an evolutionary battle with herbivores, where plants evolve various traits that deter herbivores and then herbivores evolve the ability to eat them again. This evolutionary struggle has raged on for over 400 millions years, contributing to the massive diversification of both plants and the wide range of herbivores that eat […]

Three Jumping Spider Shots

Here are three looks at a stunning jumping spider I found on a tall reed near the Savannah River in South Carolina. First with a white background showing the huge fuzzy forelegs and red-spotted abdomen, then a close-up portrait with the metallic green chelicerae, then a wide angle macro shot with a horse pasture, trees, […]

Shield Bug Babies!

I found some insect eggs on a basswood (Tilia sp.) tree. I brought them home and when they hatched I learned they were shield bugs (Pentatomoidea). The photos below span over 3 days. FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Life and Death

I found abundant signs of life and death in a recent walk through the woods Jumping spider eating a midge Assassin bugs stalking Carpenter ants dragging a still living fly back to their colony Blow fly waiting for something to die Squeaks from a hollow tree trunk Raccoon cubs squabbling and breastfeedingAnd skunk cabbage emerging after […]

Spanish Moss – Delightful Dangling Denizens of the South

Expansive live oaks dripping with spanish moss–a quintessential scene of the southeastern United States. Contrary to the common name they are not actually a moss, rather a flowering plants in the Bromeliad family. They can reproduce from seed or by chunks moved by wind or birds, who use them for nest building. Their arboreal tangles provide important habitat for a wide […]