Bernd Heinrich is another one of my science crushes. I became a big fan of his after reading Bumblebee Economics (I know you are just SO surprised), but I recently finished reading another of his books, this time on ravens. It was loaned to me by a friend who adores ravens, and for her birthday I was inspired to draw just that. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to intersperse the stages of the drawing with quotes from Heinrich’s book.
(This is the first time I’ve done a drawing like this without inks, so let me know what you think!)
The older birds reminded me of my father. He saw a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for the first time when he was fifty-five years old. It may have amused him, but he would not eat one then, or ever. He “knew” butter doesn’t come out of peanuts, unless it was very inferior butter, and that was that.
This time with a helper for support, I tried to set a proper field biologist example by traversing a succession of small valleys and hills, crashing through the underbrush.
I could see no practical point to his costly exertions to exclude Goliath from a bath, except maybe to show that he could do it. There are people like that, but I was surprised to see ravens being so unreasonable.
Odin, the ruler of the Norse gods, also called “Hrafna-gwd” or Raven god, kept two wolves at his side and two ravens on his shoulders. The wolves and the ravens accompanied him on the hunt and into battle. Thus, ravens were for thousands of years associated with wolves, and with mind, men, and the gods. From the wolf-raven associations came the northern name “Wolfram,” from Wolf-rhaben or “wolf-raven”, once a great warrior’s name.
The youngs’ first bath of their lives, when they are days out of the nest, is a memorable sight. They make the acquaintance of the water cautiously with their bill, dipping it in, splashing it back and forth. They they walk in hesitatingly, perhaps dipping their whole head in and violently shaking it back and forth. Increasingly more contact with the water is achieve as they gradually first lower their rear end down, followed by the front end.
Buzzfeed recently released a post about unusual words that have fallen out of usage, and it illustrated them all with owl photographs.
So, if you’re feeling grumpish because it is a Monday, if you feel jargogled by your work, if a beef-witted cockalorum of a coworker is brabbling and twattling away at you, visit this monsterful post: http://www.buzzfeed.com/lukelewis/27-delightful-obsolete-words-its-high-time-we-revived
Isn’t language amazing?
If I were a moose
a song with the subjunctive
If I were a moose and you were a cow
Would you love me anyhow?
Would you introduce me to your folks
Would you tell your friends “No moose jokes!”
If I were a moose and you were a cow.
Would you invite me to your club
And risk a cruel bovine snub
Would you lead me down the receiving line
And boldly boast “This moose is mine!”
Would your parents watch us graze
Shake their heads, “It’s just a phase”
Or would they thank the stars above
Their precious heifer’s found her love?
Would your grandparents change their will?
They’d really expected a Holstein bull
“For this we toiled before the plow –
You bring home someone who’s not even a cow.
There’s lot’s of proper stock around
Like that nice young Guernsey at Farmer Brown’s
Or that last one we ridiculed and cursed
On second thought you could do worse.
But if you think this thing will last
Could he learn to moo and eat our grass
Shed his antlers in the dirt
Could you persuade him to convert?”
If our anatomies did not quite fit
Would you make the best of it
Would you nuzzle up so near
And hum sweet cow tunes in my ear?
Or would you sadly break it off
When all the hillside sneered and scoffed
“You know those moose are all the same
They’re lazy, they’re stupid, they come from Maine.”
It’s true things slip a moose’s mind
That cows remember all the time
Bulbous nose and knobby knees
A coat that harbors ticks and fleas
But a moose can be a handy thing
When hungry wolves come visiting
In icy gust of winter storm
Our fur is deep and dry and warm.
And someday should your milk run dry
And farmer stare with baleful eye
In dead of night I’d slip your noose
And lead you home to the land of moose
If I were a moose and you were a cow.
If hunters came to do me harm
Would you hide me in the barn
Would all the herd come on the run
And glare until they dropped their guns?
Might you permit a goodnight kiss
Could you learn to love wet moose lips?
If I were a moose and you were a cow
If you were a cow and I were a moose
- Fred Small
There is a faculty member who is a coauthor on one of my manuscripts. He is the source of endless frustration for me because, as a coauthor, he must read and approve of the manuscript before it is submitted for publication. Yet he never responds to emails, is rarely in his office, and does not carry a cell phone. Getting a hold of him for this approval is an endlessly frustrating and exhausting process.
So you can imagine my joy when I managed to force him to set up a meeting with me. The meeting was scheduled for this morning, at 10 am. At 10:30, I was still standing outside his dark office, banging my head against the wall.
He didn’t show up, he didn’t answer his phone, and he didn’t respond to my email asking if I’d been mistaken about the day/time/place (I wasn’t).
As a graduate student, there is very little I can do to protest. I want to be like Trogdor (which is a fictional dragon invented by the online comic, homestarrunner.com, as any child of the 90′s will know).
But I am much more like this little desert rain frog, full of hot air.
I’ve been commuting to and from work via bicycle for 5 years now. Through sleet and rain and bitter cold or sweltering heat I have hopped on my bike, tightened my backpack straps, and pedaled mindlessly into work.
On Tuesday, we had terrible weather here. There was a wintry mix of ice pellets, sleet, and freezing rain (the distinctions between which I am not entirely clear) and it was not the best riding weather. I check the weather radar obsessively and this is what it looked like at around 7 pm when I was looking to go home for dinner.
“Hm,” I thought, “Well, maybe I’ll hang out in the office until there is a gap in the storm.”
Yeah, well that didn’t happen (I eventually biked home (cautiously) in a few centimeters of icy slush while being pelted with tiny hail), but while I was hanging out, this did!
I drew these sugar gliders for my blogger friend over at Peace With My Life (her blog is super awesome, btw, so you should check it out!). Who knew that sugar gliders could be so cute!?
I like drawing animals on request, and black and white drawings take me very little time, so let me know if there is anything I can apply my (admittedly limited) artistic skills to.
I smashed the remaining groups of animals into my last colouring book, which just goes to show what a mammal bias I have. (I didn’t even include all my fox drawings in that first one!) So this book includes mostly arthropods (mostly insects), followed by some fish, some reptiles, and an amphibian. (How sad, I should draw more frogs!)
You can download the pdf for free here (it is 16 pages of drawings): Other Colouring Book
And to whet your appetite for black and white line drawings, here are some sample pages.
Well, I was putting together the bird colouring book (see yesterday’s mammal colouring book), only I realized that most of the time I colour my bird drawings! This makes them less good for a colouring book. Nonetheless, I managed to scrape together a few, so here they are. Besides, I don’t feel so bad, because if you want more bird pages, you can always go see the Backyard Bird Primer!
This book is shorter than the mammal one for the reason listed above. I tried to make some black and white bitmaps from the coloured drawings but they mostly don’t turn out so well. Some of the sort of weird looking birds at the end are the result of that effort!
Here’s the book (free pdf download): Bird Colouring Book
And here are some samples to entice you!
Some blogger friends suggested that I should make a big colouring book of all my black and white drawings for kids. I said I’d be happy to! But it looks like I will have to divide it into more than one category, because I have so many drawings.
Here’s the first colouring book, just a collation of some of my simple line drawings of mammals. The pdf is free for download: Mammals Colouring Book. If you don’t want to click there, just leave a comment or send me an email and I will send it as an email attachment.
The whole thing is forty pages, but here are some sample pages to pique your curiosity.
I made these simple line drawings for a figure I am preparing for a manuscript. These probably took me 10 minutes altogether. They are simple and generic (so not really artwork per se), but I thought someone else might have use of them for a similar purpose, so I’ve made them available as jpegs here.
I’ve posted about each of these species individually over the past couple of weeks. The full book is available for download as a pdf here: ForestPestsoftheNEUS.
These are representatives of 13 of the insect families listed in the “high impact” category from the Aukemaetal_2010 economic impact assessment of North American forest pests. There remain several families that I did not cover (listed at the bottom of this post).
All of the drawings are here and you can click on them to link to their detail page.
And tomorrow I can talk about something other than insects, whew!
Buprestidae: The Emerald Ash Borer
Diprionidae: The European Pine Sawfly
Lymantriidae: The Gypsy Moth
Adelgidae: The Woolly Adelgid
Thripidae: The Pear Thrips
One other family not represented was in the fly order (Diptera): Cecidomyiidae
NB: This is the last of my forest pests series. I’ll be posting the full pdf tomorrow. Thanks for reading!
The Old World Wood Wasp (Sirex noctilio) (which I have conveniently abbreviated OWWW), is yet another of those Symphytans that are causing so much trouble. Like its cousins, it is sexually dimorphic. And like the European Pine Sawfly, it prefers pine trees for its hosts. However, unlike its cousins the European Pine Sawfly and the Mountain Ash Sawfly, the larvae of this species do not chew on leaves but on wood.
The adult females of the horntails, as this group of Sawflies is known, are able to drill into wood with a specialized ovipositor to lay their eggs. The larvae are unable to directly digest wood, so they have a symbiotic relationship with a white rot fungus, similar to the Ambrosia Beetles.
The larvae leave a tunnel in the wood as the burrow around, thus compromising the integrity. The fungus also plays a role in the ultimate downfall of the tree; as it spreads, the tree basically rots from the inside.
The wasp has many natural enemies, but one of the coolest (in my humble opinion) is the Giant Ichneumon (Rhyssa persuasoria).
The Mountain Ash Sawfly is another example of a pesky Symphytan, one of the primitive wasps in the order Hymenoptera. Similar to the European Pine Sawfly, this species specializes on one genus of trees; in this case, the genus of Mountain Ashes (Sorbus). Again, it is the larvae that do the damage. They are able to completely defoliate a tree, often stripping the leaves down to the midribs.
The adults are also sexually dimorphic. Predictably, the females are larger and they have a bright yellow abdomen. The smaller males have noticeably longer antennae (for finding mates).
In my opinion, the most interesting thing about this pest is the gregarious, lime green larvae, which line up along the edges of leaves as they feed, all in the characteristic S-shape. Evilly, they say, “Ssssssss…” Cute!
The Mountain Ashes are not of major economic importance, so less effort is put into the control of this pest.
Thrips, or insects of the order Thysanoptera, are tiny herbivores. They have rasping mouthparts which cause leaf tatter in many species. The Pear Thrips (Taeniothrips inconsequens) in particular attacks hardwood trees. It is mainly considered a threat only to the Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum).
Other species of thrips have been implicated in pollination services, for example in Australian Cycads, on islands, and in the tropics. Their efficacy in this case is nonintuitive, as they are primarily pollen predators, but it highlights the continuum from antagonist to mutualistic interactions that occurs in nature.
Although damage from this pest is usually light (hence the Latin name inconsequens), in some years it can be quite significant. The trouble with controlling them is that they often establish themselves in young buds before the trees leaf out. Such young tissue is highly susceptible to the damage the thrips can cause.
NB: The word “thrips” applies both singularly (to one “thrips”) and also in the plural (to many “thrips”). Just another weird thing about these guys.
The Japanese Beetle is a very familiar pest to most gardeners. This is an example of an extreme generalist. In contrast to the Elm Leaf Beetle (also known for its tendency to skeletonize leaves), which tends to only attack species within the genus Ulmus, the Japanese Beetle is known for attacking more than 200 species, many of which are favoured ornamentals, such as roses.
The grubs (which is the common name for beetle larvae, just as “caterpillar” is the common name for butterfly and moth larvae), are white and sickly looking and are found in the soil. They curl into this typical C-shape (illustrated above). Other beetle grubs are very similar, however, so they can be difficult to identify at that stage.
The adults are actually quite pretty, as are many members of the beetle family Scarabaeidae, or the Scarab beetles. Usually, this family name calls into mind the Egyptian scarab, which looks like this:
But which is often represented in art like this:
Beetles in general are poor fliers…they are built like tanks and their heavy, protective elytra make them uncoordinated and slow. To take advantage of this weakness, control and monitoring methods involve flight interception pheromone traps. In other words, the beetles are attracted by the pheromone smell, whack into the wind vane, and drop into the collection bag below.
The beetles are such poor fliers, in fact, that you could probably snatch one out of midair by hand. I know I have, many times.
The Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar) was introduced to the US in 1869 in an attempt to develop a silk industry in the US. The larvae (or caterpillars) produce a silk cocoon, and can disperse on the wind using silk threads. However, they rapidly escaped and became a nuisance in eastern forests, defoliating large swaths of trees.
The preferred host of the Gypsy Moth caterpillar is oak trees, but they will also feed on a number of other species, including aspens, apples, sweetgums, alders, basswoods, poplars, and willows. They avoid tree species that have high levels of secondary defense compounds, such as walnuts and cedars.
Gypsy Moth adults are sexually dimorphic; the females are white, and a bit larger, while the males are mottled brown with large, feathery antennae. The antennae are larger in males because they are sensitive to the chemical pheromones released by the females. Since the males do all of the seeking, the females do not need elaborate antennae. Their larger size, however, allows them to invest more energy in egg development. (This is true not only for many arthropods, but also in many vertebrate species.)
The chemical sensitivity of the males is the key to one method of monitoring. Managers will set out pheromone baits (using synthetic pheromone that mimics the natural female pheromone), to determine whether Gypsy moths are present in a given locale. If they are, the area is often sprayed with pesticides before the population can grow to dangerous densities.
The Gypsy moth is a major pest, and between 1970 and 2010 (just forty years!), it defoliated 80.4 million acres of forest. For this reason, the Gypsy moth’s population dynamics, and methods of controlling it, are hot topics in ecological research.
One of the major predators is the white-footed mouse: