Delicious Bugs*

Fall is the season when pitcher plants can really shine. After the heat that has slowed growth goes away, many of them put out great collections of new pitchers.

Pitcher Plants in a container garden

These new traps catch a lot of insects trying to do collect food that might see them or their offspring through the winter, thus providing the same opportunity for the pitchers.

Fall Afternoon Pitcher Plants Fall Afternoon Pitcher Plants

Fall Afternoon Pitcher Plants Fall Afternoon Pitcher Plants

The pitchers on my back deck are currently filled with metallic green sweat bees (a native solitary bee, Agapostemon sp.), flies, and a bunch of the same white moth that I haven’t tried to identify. What’s fascinating and kind of gross is how long it takes the insects to succumb to exhaustion, drowning, or probably suffocation due to the insects on top of them. Jason told me I wasn’t allowed to take video and put it on the internet, so of course I took video and put it on the internet.

Another interesting thing is that should you try to rescue the victims, like I did for a honeybee, the traps are so attractive that they end up right back in there. It’s what makes them so successful.

Insects Trapped in a Pitcher Insects Trapped in a Pitcher

Insects Trapped in a Pitcher

Sorry that you’re delicious*, bugs.

*To a carnivorous plant.

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Cool Links for June 10th

California Prisoners Are Free to Read as Much Werewolf Erotica as They Want

Andres Martinez, serving time for attempted murder and robbery at the Secured Housing Unit at Pelican Bay State Prison in California, is free to read his werewolf-human erotica novel, according to a decision handed down by the First District Court of Appeal. And guess what? The ruling, which itself is an amazing piece of writing, actually breaks new ground on stepping back obscenity law.

An Uplifting Dolphin Story. Literally.

The first took place on a January afternoon off the northwest coast of Kauai, when a group of eight bottlenose dolphins met up with a pair of humpback whales. Two of the dolphins – apparently adults – approached one of the whales, first appearing to surf the pressure wave created by the whale’s head as it swam, and later taking turns lying perpendicularly across the whale’s rostrum when it surfaced to breathe. Then, while one of the dolphins lay balanced over the end of its rostrum, the whale stopped and slowly lifted the dolphin high into the air. The dolphin maintained an arched position and made no effort to escape, allowing the whale to continue lifting until it was nearly vertical in the water, at which point the dolphin slid down the whale’s rostrum, dove into the water, and porpoised back to its fellow dolphins.

I maintain that while it looks like dolphins and whales playing together that it’s actually just hipster dolphins planking.

Make seed bombs for guerilla gardening

Seed bombs, also known as seed balls, are effective tools for distributing seeds. Each ball contains the basic essentials to get seeds off to a good start. They are often used by guerrilla gardeners in reclaiming derelict and barren sites because they can colonize large areas with only a little grunt work. Simply toss the balls onto a site (do not plant them) and wait for rain, which will kick-start the seeds’ growth. The clay and compost protects seeds from being eaten by birds or scattered by wind until they have a chance to germinate.

Here’s the link to the pdf since the interesting text of that page appears to be in a jpg. I hate that shit. I hope that’s better for some people.

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Cool Links for June 4th

Lost Watercourses of D.C.

I’m leading a Knowledge Commons DC class on Saturday, Hidden Rivers and Lost Neighborhoods, a Tour by Bicycle. We’ll be talking about the hydrologic history of D.C., tracing old streams, looking at the city’s water supply infrastructure, and poking around old neighborhoods like the Irish-American Swampoodle.

Old Church Converted into a Modern Bookstore

Built in 1294, the cathedral features large open spaces boasting three-story bookshelves. Being that the church contains 1,200 square meters of shopping space with only 750 square meters of floor space, the architects decided to design vertically. They incorporate the modern scheme of the shop without obstructing the religious motifs or structure of the ancient venue. Within the space, there is also a cafe. As a nod to the bookstore’s past-life, there is a long table shaped like a cross in the eating area, which is conveniently located where the choir formerly situated themselves.

A celebrity mastectomy, two hundred years before Angelina Jolie

In 1811, Burney had a mastectomy in France. This being 1811, she was conscious throughout the procedure, and described it in a letter to her sister nine months later. It took her three months, by her own admission, to write, and she couldn’t bring herself to reread it when it was finished.

I’ll Have My Aronia Cocktail Now, Please. I can’t wait until my chokeberries have enough fruit on them to try this!

Then she brought me over to the booth next to hers, where somebody had stashed away a bottle of aronia juice, and I got a taste. Wow! Imagine something between cranberries and wild, tart blueberries, and you’re close enough. It was rich, tart, and delicious.

Fanged, carnivorous plant pals up with swimming ants

It ain’t exactly a match made in heaven, but it’s a friendship forged in the steamy peat swamp forests of Borneo.

That’s where the fanged pitcher plant, or Nepenthes bicalcarata, teams up with a plucky, fluid-diving ant that makes its home nowhere else in the world but on the stalks and leaves of the carnivorous plant. The ant, Camponotus schmitzi, even swims around in the plant’s lethal pools of digestive fluid!

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