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Month: August 2010

Common Backswimmers on the Prowl

Common Backswimmers on the Prowl

These two insects are backswimmers and probably Common Backswimmers.  And yes, that is my reflection in the water taking the photo- whoops. As you can see, they get their name from the way that they swim upside down on the surface of the water- much like the pond snail I posted about previously. According to the Nation Audubon Society’s Field Guide to Insects and Spiders, these bugs are ferocious predators, sometimes even eating tadpoles.  They eat a bit like spiders…

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Introduced Caterpillar To Eat Introduced Weed

Introduced Caterpillar To Eat Introduced Weed

Our family saw a bunch of these caterpillars living on weeds near Mt. St. Helens.  I wasn’t sure of the identification of either the caterpillar or the plant.  Maybe if we can identify one, it will be easier to identify the other? First, the caterpillar.  I expect that its orange and black bands should make it pretty easy to identify.  Sure enough, according to Bug Guide these are Cinnabar Moth caterpillars.  They start out mostly orange and eventually develop the…

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Steller’s Jay With a Meal

Steller’s Jay With a Meal

WARNING – Photo below that some might find unpleasant!!! Steller’s Jays are one of the easiest birds to identify in the West.  Their black head and crest with blue bodies are obvious.  This one is foraging in my backyard.  It might be a juvenile since its crest doesn’t look quite as big as most of the Steller’s Jays I see around here. The Steller’s Jay found something to eat and then flew with it to this branch.  See how it…

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A Welcome Garden Sight

A Welcome Garden Sight

I have lots of these small flying black bugs in my garden.  Let’s take a closer look… It looks like a wasp to me, but its big pollen baskets make me think that maybe it is a bee.  My best guess is that it is a type of mining bee.  According to The National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders, Mining Bees have a head almost as big as their thorax and an abdomen longer than both the…

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One Cubic Mile

One Cubic Mile

The Cascade Mountains are a series of volcanoes located here in the Pacific Northwest.  Our family last week took a trip up to see Mt. St. Helens up close.  30 years ago Mt. St. Helens had a famous explosive eruption. The top of the mountain was literally blown off and slid down the valley at a very high speed.  This was followed by a massive eruption which sent hot ash flying everywhere. Look at the image above.  How much rock…

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Grasshopper in Fatigues

Grasshopper in Fatigues

I found this grasshopper (along with many, many others) up near Mt. St. Helens over the weekend.  It closely resembles a Pallid-winged Grasshopper.  Notice how its camouflage works with the rocks and soil. As hard as they were to find while sitting on the ground, they were VERY easy to find while moving through the air.  That’s because they made very loud clicking sounds while flying. Related posts:Grasshopper Too CuriousUnknown Grasshopper

Another Meadowhawk?

Another Meadowhawk?

This red dragonfly was resting on a pond near Mt. St. Helens over the weekend.  It looks very similar to the dragonfly I posted about a month ago.  I guessed that the last one was a meadowhawk and I believe that this one might be too.  Take a look at both. How are they similar? red eyes yellow area between eyes wings are pointed forward while resting have dark streaked line near end of wings (need to click on this…

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American House Spiders Hatch

American House Spiders Hatch

One of the egg sacs of our American House Spider has hatched!  There are probably 100 babies. According to Insects and Spiders of the World by Robert S. Anderson, Richard Beatty, and Stuart Church, the spiderlings (baby spiders) will stay put INSIDE the egg sac until they shed their first skin.  As spiders grow they must shed skin in order to get bigger.  Their hard outside shell doesn’t get any bigger, so they need to grow a new one.  As…

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