The Bug Geek

Insects. Doing Science. Other awesome, geeky stuff.

Category Archives: Mammals

Get ’em hooked while they’re young…

Get ’em hooked on bugs while they’re young, I say.

Emmerson and a monarch butterfly friend. Photo: Elaine Lewis (a.k.a my Mom).

Young Emmerson meets a monarch at the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory in Ontario. (They’ve got an event called BugFeast coming up for the March Break – if you’re in the neighbourhood you can get your entomophagy on!)

Now, I was not there personally to witness this potentially life-altering event, but my mom was, and she took this picture.

And she hinted that her picture should go on my blog.

And, since, she’s my mom, here it is :).

Big critter!

Our team drove about 100 km west and then east of Yellowknife today, looking for (and eventually finding) suitable sampling sites. 

Big Red and the gang, contemplating the site.

On our way out of town this morning, we saw THIS:


We screeched to a halt and turned Big Red around in hopes of getting a closer look.  I honestly expected him to turn tail and flee into the trees, but he didn’t so much as glance our way (not even after we rolled down our windows and yelled “HEY BISON, OVER HERE!!!”).  It was like watching an extremely large and shaggy groundhog complacently chomping away at the side of an urban road:

I guess when you weigh many hundreds of pounds, a couple of puny southerners isn’t a major concern. We did another U-turn (we had science to do, after all), and then noticed this sign, directly across from where the bison was grazing:

Ironic sign.

Bison country indeed.

The weather was glorious today, which meant two things: the bugs were out in full force, and the bugs were out in full force.  This was both a good thing (when we were snagging nice butterflies and dragonflies and beetles) and not such a good thing (when the black flies and mosquito swarms found us) (although my biting-fly-researching-colleauge may not agree with my assessment of the latter being not-to-good).

See?  Look: beautiful.

Forgotten Photo Friday – Fisher (Martes pennanti)

Today’s Forgotten Photo is not of an insect…not even an arthropod!  But it’s still cool (says I).

Early last April, while tromping around in the Bird Sanctuary near my home, I strayed off the well-marked paths and wandered down towards the river.  The shoreline was heavily dressed in last year’s cattails, crispy and brown.  A large beaver lodge hugged the shore about 75 m from where I balanced on a fallen tree overhanging the chilly water.  I noticed a whiff of movement behind the mound of rough-hewn wood; I figured the lodge’s occupant was doing some repairs.  But no: it was an intruder.

A fisher (Martes pennati), sleekly slinking amongst the branches.   Sometimes called “fisher-cat”, this member of the weasel family has few predators other than humans.  Fishers are equipped with long, retractable claws, long legs, a long tail, and keen senses: it is a swift, agile and fearless predator, at home on the ground and in tree branches.   They will feed on any animal they can catch, including beavers (interestingly, they rarely eat fish, despite the name).  Fishers are actually the primary predators of porcupines (porcupines!) – they avoid getting quilled by attacking only the face until the animal succumbs. 

I’ve seen a total of three or four fishers in the wild to date, usually catching only a fleeting glimpse as the animal dashed across a country road from one forest patch to another.  This guy graced me with a show almost 3 minutes long – I only wish I’d been closer!

Break Time

So much work, so little time.  My desk chair has been permanently stamped with the imprint of my rear. 

Either that, or my rear has assumed the shape of my desk chair.  Not very flattering either way if you ask me.

My wife called me today from work and suggested I take a break and play outside. It was a balmy -12C today (yes, that’s quite balmy after the near -40C we’ve had for the past two days), the dogs were short-circuitng from lack of exercise, and my wife is usually right about stuff anyways (don’t tell her I said that), so I went and played outside.

Although it was dark and grey, fresh snow was on the ground, and I got to try out my new toys:

That’s an old, shrubbed-over agricultural field.  There are squat stonerows  running along either side of the open area, and lots of early ii trees around the edges (birch especially) along with thick tangles of invasive buckthorn  native hawthorn (thanks for the clarification, Seabrooke!)

Evil Hawthorn...thorns.

Speaking of trees, and of bucks (aw nuts, now my nice little segue doesn’t work as well *harumph*),  I found a pretty recent deer rub on a young tree.  Bucks will rub their antlers on trees for a few reasons: in the early summer/late fall, they do it to slough off any velvet remaining on the rack; during rut, they rub to mark their territory.  If done aggressively enough, this action can kill the tree by cutting the flow of water and nutrients.

The small mugsly dog found something too:

C'mere, you wascally wabbit...

The occupant had left tracks nearby, but wisely stayed out of sight…

See ya, 2010…

All right, all right, I give.  2010 is tout fini and the holidays are over (wah!).  Tomorrow marks the start of the new term; I’m teaching and have coursework of my own. 

I consider 2010 to be my first “real” year of blogging; though I have dabbled since ’09 it wasn’t until last January that I felt the pieces pulling together and then sat back and watched this little speck of the blogosphere grow into something a little more cohesive (though perhaps still just as rambly).  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working on posts, taking pictures, and sharing my interests with you.  In fact, you, my readers, are the most surprising and wonderful thing to have developed out of this hobby of mine; I never imagined that I would find a home among a group of such interesting, intelligent and talented scientists, naturalists, and outdoorsy-types.  I value your readership, your comments, your insights: thank you.

Now I’m going to indulge in a bit of copy-cattery (a sign of flattery!): some of you have been doing different versions of  “2010 in Review” posts, and I’m diggin’ it.  So here is my version.  See ya, 2010!

Some blog stats

Visitors in 2010: 18,965 (!!!)

Most Visited Post:  Goldenrod gall fly 

My Favourite Post: Crocodile!

Best Search Engine Terms: this was a toss-up between “dork dweeb nerd” and “Spider in Canada that is black and white and has thorn looking things on legs”.  Sorta sums this whole blog right up, those.

Favourite Photographs

Best Adult Beetle Photo

Best Larva Photo

Best Other Insect Photo

Best Non-insect Arthropod Photo

Best Mammal Photo

Best Bird Photo

Best Plant Photo

As I’ve searched through my posts from the past year, I’ve realized that I’ve got a ton of other photos tucked away that never made it on the blog.  I think I’m going to start a weekly feature (Foto Friday? Wordless Wednesday? Something along those lines) where I just post some of my favourite pics without worrying so much about accompanying text; it’ll be a nice project for the winter months.

Anyways, here’s to 2011!  I wish you all an exciting and fulfilling year!

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