Nothing’s greener than a tree frog

Nothing’s greener than a tree frog – Photograph by Laura Lecce

These green tree frogs are the masters of camouflage. They look exactly the same color and shape as new mangrove leaves, which is exactly how I would want to look too if I lived in croc infested waters in Cairns, Australia. They’re actually quite chubby and large for a frog, growing to about 4.5 inches long (11.5 cm). They are a wonderful visitor to have in your garden if you are so lucky, as they eat cockroaches, locusts, moths and spiders. They are docile creatures who are relatively unafraid of humans, and so are commonly found hanging around outdoor lights waiting for approaching food. They are incredibly vocal using calls for mating, but will also scream when attacked by predators or squeak when poked. As cute as that may be, I do not encourage you to go around poking tree frogs as any toxins on your hand will get absorbed through their skin which is also how they absorb oxygen to breathe.

For other frog posts please click here.

Flower Friday – Purple

Purple – Art by Laura Lecce

Can you ever have too much purple? The answer to that is YES! When I was little, my favorite color was purple. I put a lot of thought into choosing my favorite color, it is a big commitment for a kid. You see, I was a well thought out semi-conformist, I liked to be part of everything but certainly in my own non-obvious way and pink was way too obvious a choice for a girl. I also wasn’t an outgoing, center of attention kind of kid, so yellow and orange were eliminated. Also ruled out were green, which in the right shade can be beautiful but also has way too many shades of yucky and blue was clearly set aside for boys. So purple it was. To show my commitment to my favorite color I hounded my dad to paint my bedroom a deep and intense color purple (much like the background of this painting). I love it…..for a good few years anyway. Isn’t it always the way though, that too much of a thing you love becomes a thing you hate. As I approached my teenage years I felt stifled by purple, suffocated by purple, and was very much relieved to move on to a turquoise blue and green room.

To bee or not to bee

To bee or not to bee – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Recently there have been two scientific studies which have highlighted how smart bees really are at learning. One of these studies trained bees to pull on a string which gave them access to a sucrose treat. The second study wanted to see if bees could perform a very unnatural task that required manipulation of a tool to get a reward. The bees were shown that the proper location of a yellow ball was inside a drawn circle. The bee then had to figure out how to relocate a misplaced ball back into the circle to gain a reward. Once the bee had learned these tasks they improved significantly each time, taking less time to complete the task. Not only did bees learn these tasks, other bees which were placed as observers could then complete the task themselves on the first try, hence learning the skill from watching a trained bee. This learning could be transferred through many successions of new trainers and new observers. These studies show that bees can learn new and complex tasks which were previously thought to be unique to vertebrates such as mammals and birds and also transfer those skills throughout their colony which may help them adapt in the presence of changing evolutionary pressures (click here to see a video highlighting these studies).

Friday Flower – Sweet Little Phal

Sweet natured phalaenopsis – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Todays flower is an adorable little phalaenopsis with a very sweet personality. I know that flowers cannot have personalities, but I love to imagine what they would be like if they did. This orchid would be skipping around in a yellow flowing dress with pink streamers flying from her curly hair, a huge cheeky smile on her face and an infectious laughter which brightens up the day of everyone she meets. I hope she brightens up your Friday, happy weekend everyone!

For other orchid posts please click here.

You are what you eat

Pink Flamingo – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Flamingoes are one example of how ‘what you eat’ can be reflected in your appearance. We associate flamingoes with the color pink or orange when in fact they are born a dull greyish color. The lakes and wetlands they live in are breeding grounds for algae, shrimp and mollusks – tasty munchies that these beautiful birds spend their days consuming. Each of these tasty treats are loaded with beta-carotene, an organic chemical which is a reddish-orange color and is famously known for making carrots orange. Beta-carotene gives shrimp their orange color when cooked, and shrimp-eating salmon their pink flesh. This chemical is an important one which gets converted into vitamin A in our bodies and contributes to healthy skin, teeth, bones and good vision. Interestingly, farmed salmon and zoo flamingoes which are not necessarily fed a ‘wild’ diet are made pink by the addition of canthaxanthin to their food, yet another naturally occurring carotenoid which is well known to give Chanterelle mushrooms their yellow/orange coloration.

Yellow Heliconia

Yellow Heliconia – Photograph by Laura Lecce

These beautiful plants are known for a range of colored flowers predominantly seen in red, orange and yellow. They are mostly a tropical plant and are unsurprisingly related to the Bird of Paradise (of which the flowers look very similar) and also bananas (which look like a larger version of this plant). The flower produces nectar to attract pollinators such as hummingbirds. If you ever decide you want a tropical-looking garden, the inclusion of some different heliconias are a must and fairly easy to grow. The luscious green foliage and bright splash of flower color will certainly brighten up your day. Happy weekend everyone!

Bark-mimicking grasshopper

Bark-mimicking Grasshopper – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This sizable insect is commonly known as a bark-mimicking grasshopper (Coryphistes ruricola) and even its eyes look like they are actually made of wood. They are common in Australia and depending on location and surrounding environment, appear in various colors from grays to browns. Collectively they are an interesting view of natural selection at work. This grasshopper which was photographed in Western Australia was in an area where there weren’t many trees at all, but blended in very well with the sand it was sitting on. If I was a bird I would certainly think twice about whether I was about to eat a grasshopper or a piece of fallen tree branch.

For other insects please click here.