Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Recycle, reuse, refine

I have surfed the net and stumbled upon some fantastic art made of waste.

Like these sculptures made of broken CD's made by the Australian artist Sean Avery, found on the website

And lots of amazing insects made from old electronic components, by Julie Alice Chapell, presented on her Facebook-page and on Etsy.

Electric wire is also recycled into art, like these little trees by BarbaraCCreations on Etsy

More pictures here. 

Be well, everybody!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Photo report from Gotland

O.K. is on the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea this week, in the cold, blustery November fog.  Here are some of his photos, posted by me.  Enjoy!


 the bottle
the stick
the door
the rock
 train I
the tower
 train II
the perspective

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A new logo! and some old ones

I am a member of at least 5 different Amateur Societies/Clubs which all reflects my hobbies.

Here are some of their logos, the first one is brand new, designed by me . The bug is a stinkbug, Graphosoma lineatum, which is called strimlus in Swedish. Our old logo looked like something copied on a blue-ink copiator in the basement, rather outdated.

The society Sörmlandsentomologerna. 

  The Swedish Garden Amateur Society, with linneas of course.

 The embroidery society, started in Täcklebo but now has members from all Sweden.

Södertälje ridklubb
My dear Horse Riding Club which is organizing competitions for the Swedish Horse Jumping Elit this weekend, the logo looks like this (below). I will be there all Friday and Sunday.

The Canoeing Club in Södertälje, I keep my canoes in their house.

And at last, not my club anymore, but in my heart since 1980 when I joined Fältbiologerna. We had two logos during my years in the club. I read on their web site they are discussing a name change. The first name of this old club was SFU. The club slogan is Youth Nature Environment.

This is the present logo, LS, did you vote for it back in the days??

The old logo, the scythe is added to the original image. The slogan was more down to earth then,
in the 1970´s. "Keep your boots muddy"

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Tågresa (Train travel)

Jag tar tåget från Eskilstuna station, en modern version av de gamla motorvagnarna tar mig över broarna vid Kvicksund, till Kolbäck och vidare över slätterna till Västerås. Spåret letar sig in i obefolkade skogar på väg mot Sala. Ett snabbt tågbyte i Sala, jag saknar höjd över havet på nya stationsskylten. Huset är detsamma som förr. Undrar hur många stationshus som fanns under tågens stortid? Intercitytåget mot Uppsala ser ut som vanligt, men är nästan folktomt. Borde man inte kunna sälja lite fler biljetter om det var billigare? Det borde gå jämnt ut. Vi är 10 pers i en vagn på minst 80 platser. Konduktören har bytt den traditionella mössan mot en svart SJ-keps. Modernt, men jag hajar till. Ännu visslar han på perrongen vid avgång, i klassisk visselpipa. Min ungdoms resor, alla dessa visslingar, alla tågresor jag gjort. På väg till, på väg bort, på väg hem, på väg till älsklingen, på väg mot okända marker.

Ibland när jag står och väntar på pendeltåget i Stockholm så står det ett fjärrtåg på perrongen bredvid. Mot Kiruna, Narvik, Malmö, Berlin, Hamburg....

 Lusten att kliva på finns där, alltid. Jag reser genom ett landskap av lövskogar, nyslagna stubbåkrar i senapsgult, gröna höstsådder och granplanteringar. Just nu är vi mitt emellan sommar och höst, svala nätter men ännu är det varmt när solen skiner. Blommorna går i frö, bara några enstaka ettårigar blommar vidare. Nypon, rönnbär och havtorn har röda bär i stor mängd. Snart är höstens flammande färger här, det saknas bara några frostnätter.

Min resa tar slut i Uppsala, idag var det hit jag skulle. Domkyrkans spiror sticker hål på dimmolnens gråmulna himmel, snart tittar nog solen fram. Slottet ligger bastant och tryggt på bergets topp. Uppsala, min studiestad, min glädjetid.

(A note for English speaking readers, I describe a train ride through the Swedish landscape from Eskilstuna to Uppsala. A lot of memories from train rides in my youth too.)

Translation by LS:

I take the train from Eskilstuna station, a modern version of the old rail buses take me over the bridges at Kvicksund, to Kolbäck and then over the plains to Västerås. The track finds its way into uninhabited forests towards Sala.  A quick train change in Sala, I miss the sea elevation on the new train station sign. The station house is the same as before.  I wonder how many stations there were during the trains great times? The Intercity train towards Uppsala looks like usual, but it nearly empty.   Wouldn't they sell a lot more tickets if they were cheaper?  It would be about the same cost.  We are 10 people in a car with at least 80 seats.  The conductor has changed the traditional hat to a black SJ-baseball hat. Modern, but I are taken aback.  Still he whistles on the platform when the train is about to leave, in a classic whistle.  My youth's travels, all these whistles, all the train trips I have taken.  On the way to things, away from things, on the way home, on the way to the sweetheart, on the way to unknown destinations. 

Sometimes when I stand and wait for the commuter train in Stockholm there is a long-distance train on the neighboring platform. Destination Kiruna, Narvik, Malmö, Berlin, Hamburg...

The desire to get on is there all the time, always.  I travel through a landscape of deciduous forests, newly cut mustard-yellow fields, green freshly fall sown areas, and spruce plantations. Right now we are between summer and fall, cool nights but still warm when the sun is up.  The flowers are setting seeds; only a few annuals continue flowering.  Rose hips, mountain ash, and sea buckthorn have red berries in large masses.  Soon the flaming colors of the fall is here; we are just waiting for a few frost nights.

My trip ends in Uppsala, it was here I was going.  The cathedrals spires cut their holes into the foggy grey-clouded sky; soon the sun will probably show its face.  The castle is mounted on the hill as a heavy and secure thing.  Uppsala, my college years, my happy times.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Happy birthday, EH!

I hope you have a gorgeous happy birthday!  I am also sure all the moths and butterflies, mushrooms, birds, and flowers wish you a great day!

Giant Leopard Moth, Ecpantheria scribonia Giant Leopard Moth, seen in New Jersey

Friday, August 22, 2014

Six-legged abundance, and how to discover it

margined leatherwings (Chauliognathus marginatus_beetle_P6220530

Despite growing up in an entomological family, and I mean that literally, and later been surrounded by people that know and care about insects, insects, and insects, it is not until this spring and summer where I suddenly felt a real urge knowing the insects in my backyard.  I cared about the plants, the birds, the mammals, the clouds, the rocks... but the insects had just been there and been cool and fun, but I didn't bother so much with the science of them.

But, then I was part of a Bioblitz and everything counted.  I had to beat my sister in the species count on the long-term Bioblitz, so insects became important.  (She won.) A good digital camera made the observations permanent (thanks for the loan, PP).  But the most important help and driver was actually the internet.  The amazing and helpful people on that help me identify everything (from a photo), be it a common stinkbug or a rare beetle.  My Dad, who sends encouraging, insightful notes full of anecdotes via e-mail.  My Mom and sister, keeping up with the butterflies on their end over on the other side of the ocean.  Suddenly, insects have become attainable.

Also, and I have to admit it, Facebook is a great resource for species expertise.  If you just stay away from the entertainment news and junk on Facebook, it can actually be a useful thing.  I have gotten so much help with strange insects from internet people, many of which I have never met, never talked to in person, and have no clue where they live or how they look like.  I reciprocate, of course, telling people on iNaturalist and plant ID groups on Facebook what their unknown plants are when I can.

This is true citizen science, the broadening of biodiversity knowledge to the backyards and driveways of our homes, to people that are just interested and not professionally involved in the science of bugs, plants, and so on.  And all this knowledge is freely shared, no money, no accounts, no subscriptions, and certainly no expectation of accounted returns.  We are just all in this biodiversity knowledge curiosity together...  like a kiddie pool!  Except the whole world's nature is our pool.

So, here are some recent finds from our garden, and some I figured out myself, and others I got a lot of help with. Click on the photos and you can see larger versions of the photos and what the species are on Flickr.  This is just a gallery of insect beauty and biological diversity in a regular backyard in New Jersey, USA.

Redbanded hairstreak P8180860cropped Monobia quadridens - Four-toothed Mason WaspP8180863cropped Robberfly with caught bumblebee P8180810 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail P8170772 red aphids P8170638 Zabulon skipper male P8170596.cropped Toxomerus geminatus P8170614cropped Chinavia hilaris (green stink bug) Hemiptera IMG_6664 Clymene moth Haploa clymene IMG_2798 Harmonia axyridis (Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle)  IMG_6591

Monday, July 28, 2014

Fieldtrip to Payette River, Idaho

Last week I was on a day trip to look at mosses and lichens in the Rocky Mountains in Idaho, USA.  We drove up along Payette River, a clear-watered small river with many rapids that is beloved by kayakers and rafters (in inflated rubber rafts).  The river is surrounded by tree-less, browned grass mountains, but in the past there was a lot of trees around here.  Extensive logging in the last 200 years took down giant ponderosa pines, and cattle grazing by the settlers and onwards changed the vegetation to dry grasslands. 

We saw many, many lichens, and here is one of the most common one.  A striking yellow makes this one easy to identify, it is wolf lichen (Letharia vulpina).  It loves to grow on the ponderosa pine twigs and it toxic.  It is called wolf lichen because it was used as a poison to treat bait that was used to kill wolves.

Ponderosa pines against the clear blue Idaho-sky.  These pines are adapted to fire and survive it unless they are small seedlings.  Their bark insulate against hot raging forest fires that regularly comes through.

Wildfires were raging about 15 miles away, but didn't affect us.  Fires are common in these landscapes and part of the natural renewal cycle. 

This moss is an amazing little thing.  The left and right is from the same tuft of moss, and is the same species.  The left got a little water sprayed on it, and came back to life in a few minutes.  It is used to study cell biology, since it literally shuts down its metabolism in its dry state, and then can resurrect itself incredibly fast.

The rapids are very treacherous, and each year several people die here.  Rivers for kayaking are divided into categories 1-5 based on difficulty.  The North Fork of the Payette River (on this picture), is a number 4 I think.  We saw lots of kayakers including one that tipped under and then came back up.

And further down the river, where the ponderosa pine forest is gone, you could see the old logging and mining railroad from the late 1800s.  It is still in use but now it transports tourists. 

A little further down from the last picture is the little town of Horseshoe Bend, population 707. You know you are in a different part of the country when there is a plea for support to help a family's baby that was born with a heart defect, and the lottery prizes in the raffle they set up to help them financially with health care bills include three things: a chain saw, a new rifle with a spotting scope, and a large box of ammunition.  That would not happen in New Jersey.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Insect Biodiversity - small and big, in and out, up and down...

Since March I have focused a lot of attention on local biodiversity, both dead and alive, and both inedible and edible.  When you least expect it, you can see something intricate, interesting or gorgeous.  Here are some of the things I have seen in the last 6 months, as a small sample...

Clymene moth Haploa clymene IMG_2798
Clymene moth, seen one evening in July from our porch
Harmonia axyridis (Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle) IMG_6593
An Asian lady beetle (not a nice ladybug) is hiding inside a flower umbel of Queen Anne's lace.

Photinus _firefly P6220560
Firefly showing off its bottom end, the one that blinks at night. Fireflies are beetles, not flies. 
Tetraopes tetrophthalmus (Red Milkweed Beetle)red beetleP6220536
This unreal-looking long-horned beetle is called red mikweed beetle - I love the dots and the bent antennas.

margined leatherwings (Chauliognathus marginatus_beetle_P6220529_cropped
These mating beetles have to be careful so they don't get stuck with their snouts in the milkweeds' intricate pollination systems.

All of these are from my backyard and I didn't have to look very hard to find them.  Living things are amazing, indeed.