Into the Desert: a Photo-Journal

Into the Desert: a Photo-Journal

A few weeks ago, a couple of friends and I had the opportunity to drive out to Quartzite, AZ, for the day.  Because we were coming from southern California, this meant driving through Joshua Tree and the Sonoran Desert.  These are some photographs from the journey.

The Praying Mantis Egg Case and the Shrubbery

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Greetings, lovely people!

Today, we’ll be talking about the praying mantis, species diversity, and ecological niches.  All photographs and video were taken by me at the local arboretum and are indicative of a sort of capsule environment you might find in such a locale.  Specifically, today’s discussion is regarding the mantis’ egg-stage development. There will be follow-up posts as the nymphs (baby mantises), hatch and develop.

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Spring has arrived, and with it comes the reemergence of our insect friends. There are more likely than not pollinators, pest controllers, and symbiotes living in your spring-time garden, you know. Different species have particular requirements or habitats, some more selective than others, as we briefly discussed in the last post, regarding the habitat construction and food source of Monarch butterflies.

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Today, we’re talking about the beginning stages of the praying mantis life cycle. As with most insect species, mantises are egg-laying creatures. In order to protect the vulnerable eggs, a foamy, tunnel-like structure forms around the eggs.

The mantis egg case can hold anywhere between ten and four hundred nymphs (baby mantises), and often adults lay eggs in the Autumn. Eggs hatch in the Spring and each of the tiny creatures has to make its own way out of the case. The foamy honeycomb-like construction offers easier access to the outside world to these miniature mantids, ensuring the higher likelihood that more of the offspring would actually find food and ultimately survive to maturity. As with some other species, especially insects, while mantids prey on garden pests, they sometimes cannibalize others of their species. However, most often it is birds or other predatory insects that ultimately thin the population.

I was not aware how many mantid species there actually were before I started writing this. Apparently the “mantis” designation includes over 2,400 distinct species. These species can further be divided into about 430 genera, belonging to 15 separate families From my research and analysis of comparative photographs, this example appears to belong to Stagmomantis californica, or the California Praying Mantis. I’ll talk more about them in later posts, but they tend to be smaller than the variety found in the Carolinas and are found throughout California. Only time will tell how these little creatures develop, but I will keep you all appraised of their journey into the world. I’ll share more about these fascinating creatures in the next round.

Till next time, be well.

Kate


Flutter and Boots

Flutter and Boots

Subheading: The Monarch and the Tuxedo Cat

I thought last Tuesday would start like most Tuesdays, of late, dear friends: wake up earlyish and be at the arboretum to work with the plants. 

Spring into Puns (Ethnobotanipuns): A Love Story

Spring into Puns (Ethnobotanipuns): A Love Story

I've been writing and collecting these for a while and while just posting a list of planty puns would be fun and humerus (heheh), it'd be a touch boring.  Going back over it, just now there are some bad pick-up lines in there too.  So this happened, instead. 

Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the World Peace Rose Garden

 Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the World Peace Rose Garden

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  In honor of his efforts toward peace and equality, today, we will be discussing elements of peaceful protest, being true to yourself, and the MLK Jr. World Peace Rose Garden in Georgia.

Seeds of Potential: Part 2 of Ancestors for All Seasons

Seeds of Potential: Part 2 of Ancestors for All Seasons

Be as the dormant seed, beginning to germinate in the desiccated trunk of its predecessor, full of potential and vibrant life.

Ancestors for All Seasons

Ancestors for All Seasons

It is important to remember the ancestors, dear friends, regardless of season.

Philz Coffee Review

Philz Coffee Review

As often occurs, dear friends, a few days ago at around 2 o'clock, my energy was sapped and I needed some caffeine and food.  Drinking high-caff coffee, sans food never ends well.  I've tried it.  Undergrad studying makes you forget to eat, sometimes. Also craft/art projects.  Not recommended.  Timers and alarms are your friend.  But, I digress.

Note: Not sponsored in any shape or form.

The Wreath as a Herald of Fortune

The Wreath as a Herald of Fortune

Wreaths weren't always a thing to put on your door during the holidays.  In many places, they still aren't.  While door-hanging wreaths have now been adapted for any season, they used to be more akin to celebratory laurels or flower crowns. 

The Yulelog: Rekindling the Sun

The Yulelog: Rekindling the Sun

Traditionally, the Yule log is the last part of the winter solstice festival fire of the previous year. This final section of the final log is kept, generally wrapped in cloth and protected in the home until it is brought out the next year to continue the cycle.

Ethnobotany and the Epitaph

Ethnobotany and the Epitaph

The epitaph is a highly personal thing, especially in the modern period.  For centuries, plants have made an appearance on burial markers and urns. 

Humanity's Beautiful Diversity

Humanity's Beautiful Diversity

Human rights and diversity are important regardless of your background, dear reader, but are perhaps most spotlighted when concerning those members of society whose voices tend to be suppressed in some way.  Minority voices are important, brightening and enlivening the global human narrative, whether that be religion, ethnic background, sexual orientation, gender expression, relative ablebodiedness, or other aspects. 

Mabon Stew

Mabon Stew

I wanted to share the recipe with you, both so that you can make it and so that I have a readily accessible copy.  This is essentially a loose recreation of something I put together several years ago while studying ethnobotany and living in UKC's student housing. 

Under the Harvest Moon

Under the Harvest Moon

This time of year is about reaping what was planted in the growing time.  Look to your Springtime goals, dear reader, and see what you have accomplished.  Do you still need to do more on certain projects?  Are there others that have fallen dormant but you still hold on to? 

Apples of Mabon

Apples of Mabon

In Celtic traditions, this time is called Mabon, and is the second of three harvest festivals. It is also sometimes called Alban Elfed, Cornucopia, the Wine Festival, or the Apple Festival (among other names).

Things I learned from plants (A Series): #3. You can heal from injury.

Things I learned from plants (A Series):  #3. You can heal from injury.

Whether it be physical, mental, emotional, or otherwise, dear reader, you can heal from injury.

Have you ever seen an old, decomposing tree stump in the depths of the forest, with a seedling sprouting from its ruin?  The decomposition and complete breakdown of the old makes way for an emergent new life form, providing the impetus for its growth and development.

Things I Learned from Plants (A Series): #2. Water is Life and Should Be Respected.

Things I Learned from Plants (A Series): #2. Water is Life and Should Be Respected.

Water is party to all things, dear reader.  While all Earth-dwelling embodied lifeforms have their own characteristics, goals, needs, and expectations of their environments, water is a common necessity they all share.  Without proper hydration, the brain's receptors stop interpreting and correlating information and general organ failure occurs, plants are unable to photosynthesize, and moisture continues to evaporate from the body at a rather high rate. 

Garden Helpers: Awesome Arachnids

Garden Helpers: Awesome Arachnids

There are many people who have some level of arachnophobia, or a fear of spiders.  While most keep to themselves, there are some that are highly aggressive when disturbed.  Generally these species rely heavily on web cues and have rather poor eyesight. 

NOTE: There are images of spiders in this post.  If that is something that disturbs you, you’ve been forewarned.

Things I learned from Plants (a Series): #1. Strong roots let you grow tall.

Things I learned from Plants (a Series):                       #1. Strong roots let you grow tall.

Have you ever noticed, dear reader, how a an unbalanced, top-heavy thing is prone to collapsing?  Some things are balanced by having a flat base on which to build, brick structures forming in orderly fashion.  Some have a reasonably stable base and overall structure, but topple when the weather or environment changes.