The Lady Who Loved Insects

Written in twelfth century Japan, the short story The Lady Who Love Insects was likely meant as a cautionary tale but has since become an inspiration for Hayao Miyzaki when creating his iconic Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. In the The Lady Who Love Insects, the Lady is extremely eccentric and refuses to conform to the normal societal appearance of her position. She leaves her teeth unblackened, her eyebrows are unplucked and natural, her hair loose and she generally ignores the traditional fashion.

 “It is the person who wants the truth and inquires into the essence of things who has an interesting mind.”

The Lady Who Loved Insects
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

But perhaps more eccentric than her appearance,…

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Surprising Slime Mold and New Beetles

To say this has been a weird summer would be an understatement. Because of the pandemic, there was no annual trip abroad to explore new landscapes and nature, and I haven’t done a good job getting out locally either. Part of the reason for that is with nothing else do do, and being cooped up so much, people have been packing into parks and nature spaces since the spring and trails and parking have been overly crowded as a result. Going into nature with crowds is worse than not going at all to me, so I’ve spent a lot of time at home.

That’s not to say I’m not going out at all though! I try to select the quieter weekday times when places are less busy, and so it was I found myself at one of my usual haunts in Sammamish to…

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Tiger Beetle VERSUS Tiger

I present the first in what will hopefully be a series of highly unbiased and scientific infographics comparing invertebrates and vertebrates who share a common name.

In this first edition I look at the mighty Tiger Beetle and compare it to the highly overrated tiger. (Definitely not biased!)

Long live Team Invertebrate!

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Red-nosed Reindeer: The Story of the Reindeer Snot Bot

Maybe it wasn’t light at all, but something far darker, that turned Rudolph’s nose red.

During the peak of summer in the far north of Scandinavia, reindeer have forsaken the snow and lichen of winter and are busy foraging on the soft new plant growth like sedge and cotton grass, fireweed and goldenrod and the leaves of birch and willow trees. With abundant food the reindeer gorge themselves, putting on weight before the return of winter, while the new calves, who were born in the spring, grow alongside their mothers. It is a carefree time of plenty — or it should be, but reindeer aren’t the only animals in the north enjoying the season of abundance.

During a warm sunny day, hovering in front of a reindeer’s face is what looks like a fuzzy, yellow and black bee,…

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Diary of an Urban Wild Garden: See No Weevil

It all started back in April when I found a teeny weevil on a window ledge in the living room. The weevil had ceased to be, but where had it come from? I posted it on Twitter and quickly learned it was a Hollyhock Weevil (Rhopalapion longirostre), which made sense because there are hollyhocks planted right outside the window I found it in. The flowers had been there a few years, sown as part of a fairy garden flower mix, but they didn’t appear to have much wildlife value so their days would be limited once I got around to adding new native plants to that area.

But now I was interested in these flowers I had mostly ignored. The hollyhocks were barely beginning to sprout out of the ground, but over the next few weeks I kept an eye on them as…

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Diary of an Urban Wild Garden: A New Discovery

Once in a while I encounter something in my yard that leaves me completely baffled. I may not be able to identify all the bees, flies or beetles I see, but I usually know that they are bees, flies or beetles. A few days ago, I noticed something that no matter what angle I looked at it from, I just couldn’t figure out even what type of insect it was.

At first glance it looked like a stick insect, but when I looked closer, I could see there were two, a pair mating back to back, attached together. They had long, sender bodies and even longer, more slender legs. Their antennae were also thin and terribly long, ending in little knobs, similar to that of butterflies. Their bodies were brown, but one had a thicker abdomen which had a green underside, and they…

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