Wednesday, October 29, 2008

i just found a geocaching

i just found a geocaching prize by accident. all that was inside was an explanation. i thought it was drugs.


This has been a good month for mantises in my neighborhood. I came across five of them in total on my walks with Beatrice without even really looking. Most of them were hanging out on the path, and one landed right on my hand while i was bagging up another one.
All of them are the European Mantis, or Mantis religiosa, which is pretty common across the united states.

"From "National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects & Spiders" (1), p. 397:

This mantid was accidentally introduced in 1899 on nursery stock from southern Europe. At a time when Gypsy Moth Caterpillars were burgeoning in the eastern states, it was recognized almost immediately as a beneficial predator. However, mantids are so cannibalistic that they are rarely numerous enough to have much effect in depleting caterpillar populations."

I caught four and kept them alive for awhile, hoping that they'd laid ootheca, or egg sacs. In the meantime, i brought them to the Bug Zoo so some of the students could take them to outreaches. They went to two. They were a hit at the garden themed night, but at the one I went to, the kinds were unimpressed since most of them live in the country and see them a lot. Ooo la la!
From creepy crawlies

This girl above (all four were girls, says Mike from the bugzoo) laid an ooth. Another one died, possibly of an injury, possibly of dehydration, possibly of starvation. One died while trying to lay an ooth. The ooth comes out as foam and then hardens, exactly like that polyurethane sealer foam you can buy in a can. It's also sticky, and mike found her stuck to the side of the container, with a failed ooth binding her feet and wings. I gassed her and the one that laid the ooth and pinned them up. The remaining one is still alive but she's not nearly as fat as the other ones, so I don't think that she'll lay any eggs.

Two days ago I found a wooly bear caterpillar from the species Pyrrharctia isabella. There's an old wives' tale, according to Peter Haggard who wrote Insects of the Pacific Northwest that says "The wider the band (of orange), the colder the winter." By the looks of the this one, it will be a moderate to very cold winter. This one's dead though because the remaining mantis has been snacking on it.
From creepy crawlies

I didn't expect her to eat it but I threw it in to see what would happen. I also didn't expect it to live very long because it kept flipping itself upside down. You can see in the picture that the mantis has her modified arms, which are big hooks, dug right into the side of the caterpillar, and her forelegs folded back. She's also eating it upside down which is pretty neat. Whenever the wooly bear would stir. She'd dig in again. I'm glad to see that she's eating.

In other insect news, Beatrice found some kind of what I think is a spider's sac in the grass, and we took it home and put it into a plastic bag to see what comes out. I'll let you know.

Monday, October 27, 2008


I just saw an article on the ny times about little kids getting kidney stones and they showed that picture. I had no idea they looked like that. I immediately chugged a liter of water.
Also, the dog threw up a bunch of cheese all over my shoulder this evening, and then in the carpet. It smelled terrible. After I cleaned it up, she peed on the spot. It was a nice deposit before it was a fee. Thanks, puppy.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Happy Scare Day

this thing autoplayed so I got rid of it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

My neighbor Gil passed away yesterday. It's pretty sudden, though he'd recently been diagnosed with cancer and he was doing his best to fight it. I talked to his wife Maggie for a little while tonight, and while she was sad, she is happy that he has some relief.

Although I complained at length about how annoying it was that he'd tell me to mow my lawn, he was a genuinely nice man who would do anything for anybody, and I did appreciate his help although I often accepted it begrudgingly. He was the first new friend I made in Portland, as I met him the second day I was in town. When he wasn't telling me how to fix the yard or how to deal with other neighbors, he was telling me great stories about his past, gossiping about the neighborhood, or getting the dog riled up. He will be missed.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

OSU and Google Earth

I've been putting off homework all afternoon. Instead of doing homework, I put together this little tour of my daily life at school. You'll need Google Earth to see it. You can click on the locations in the left hand menu to read descriptions of the places. Double Click em to get customize zooms and angles picked by me! Enjoy!

Get Google Earth

Download the Tour

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Bug Zoo

Tonight was the first meeting of the Oregon State Bug Zoo, which is a club on campus that raises some live insects as well as keeps a collection of preserved insects, and goes to schools in the area to educate people about insects and other arthropods.

Currently there are about 12 members. I volunteered to be Secretary this evening, which means that I take notes at the meeting. Another job was Minister of Propaganda, but I figured that I would just help with that rather than being official, because I felt like it would ultimately turn into more work than I wanted to do. I am also in charge of feeding the darkling beetles (which are adult mealworms) and the thorny sticks. The collection of live insects is particularly impressive. They have a whole lot of stick insects, mostly spiny and thorny, the kinds that look like big leaves. One of them crawled all over my face. It's a good club. The members are all very friendly once you get them talking. They're also very proud of the club. I am happy to be a member.

It's started raining here which is welcome. I am tired of these 80 degree days. I am anxious to get my bike this weekend, although the tips that tim gave me for parking worked out well this morning. I was able to find parking in the dirt lot two times.