I’d like to introduce you to Debbie. She is a large, Garden Orb Weaving Spider that lives on my balcony in Australia. I rarely get a good look at her because she is a night spider that sits in the middle of her giant web from sunset until very early morning. She is hoping to catch some large insects for dinner such as flies, beetles and occasionally a cicada. Some nights if she hasn’t had much luck catching bugs, she stays out a little longer in the morning, which is when I got to take this great photo of her. I even fed her a large blow fly that had flown into my kitchen after I stunned it with the fly squatter. For a hefty spider, she certainly ran faster than I expected towards the fly I stuck to her web. She immediately wrapped it up, took it to the center of the web and ate him – she must have been hungry! During the day when she is not in the web, she is contently tucked away into her sleeping hole in one of the bricks of my balcony. She will sadly only live a year, as they generally die out in late Autumn to early Winter. Before that happens, she will try to find a mate and lay eggs in late Summer to Autumn encased in a silky cocoon. Unlike some other spiders, males and females are similar in size. The babies will hatch not long after and catch the breeze with their little silk balloon to relocate to a new home. Hopefully there will be many more little Debbies to share my home with and admire.
Just a mamma grizzly enjoying some sun and a meadow of wildflowers. Don’t you just want to give her a huge, furry cuddle? Well, maybe not so much.
This photo makes me smile… While each of these gorgeous Icelandic horses are warming their faces in the sun, there is one with his bum to the sun. So here’s to being different, interesting and unique, especially if it brings a smile to someone’s face and keeps your butt warm at the same time.
For other posts about Iceland click here.
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).
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.
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.
Storms are hard on everyone, but none more so than the poor birds which have very little shelter from the wind and cold. I saw a photo today of a very defeated cockatoo in Australia sitting amongst fallen branches, wet and with most of his feathers blown off by cyclone Debbie. Thankfully he was rescued by the photographer and I hope he will make a speedy recovery. The bird in these photos was weathering out a snowstorm in New York two weeks ago (hopefully our last one of the winter) and was grateful that I provided some breadcrumbs. Actually in truth I am not sure that the bird was grateful because grumpy is its permanent facial expression. I cannot blame him as I’d be grumpy too if I was locked outside in a snowstorm with no socks to keep my feet warm.