Police Car Moth – Black and White

The Police Car Moth gets its name from the overall black and white wing colouration and two orange-red spots on the collar (like a police car). It is a Diurnal moth (flies during the day) unlike most moths which fly at night. One way to differentiate between butterflies and moths is to look at the antenna. Moths have feathered antenna and butterflies have clubbed ends.


The Flutter Files

Name: Police Car Moth
Species:
Gnophaela vermiculata
Native to: A common western North American species found from southern British Columbia across to western Manitoba and south to northern New Mexico.
Date Seen:
August 2021
Location: North of Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Notes:
Adults feed on nectar from flowers such as thistle and goldenrod.

The problem with cats is that they get the exact same look on their face whether they see a moth or an axe-murderer.
– Paula Poundstone –

Color television! Bah, I won’t believe it until I see it in black and white.
– Samuel Goldwyn –

It’s an amazing thing to watch a lizard fold a moth into its mouth, like a sword swallower who specialises in umbrellas.
– Elizabeth McCracken –

If intelligence were a television set, it would be an early black-and-white model with poor reception, so that much of the picture was gray and the figures on the screen were snowy and indistinct. You could fiddle with the knobs all you wanted, but unless you were careful, what you would see often depended more on what you expected or hoped to see than on what was really there.
– Madeleine Albright –

Cold is a Relative Thing and Making Things Up (Video)

Winter weather in Alberta is an exercise in relativity. When the temperature  first dips to just below freezing (-1C or 30F), it feels cold – but it feels warm compared to the day when it gets down to -10C (-14F). Inevitably, the really COLD weather will arrive – which it did with a vengeance just a few days ago.

-27C is -16F; -34C is -29F

Anything below -20C is really cold.  -20C, -27C,  -34C. No more relativity – it is all just really, really cold. The forecast says it will warm up by this week-end, but do they really mean that? Watch the video below:

I took some photos when it was a balmy -10C.

Frost Covered Trees
Frost covered trees with a Topaz Studio filter called oil.
Macro photo of frost crystals.
Frost crystals with a Topaz Studio sharp filter.

If you are a regular reader, you will wonder why I’m still in Alberta and not soaking up the sun in Arizona. The answer to that is – some times one door closes but another ten open. On the closed door side, the ‘Rona virus and various levels of government made it much less appealing to travel – (though not impossible). On the open door side – at our Alberta house there is a ‘Never Ending Reno’ list, enough craft and hobby supplies to last a lifetime, family to visit as soon as this lock down is lifted and the always enticing prospect of an early start to gardening season! Yah!

Is it still winter where you are? What is the coldest temperature you saw this year? How accurate are the weather reports where you live?

Bee Fly – a Pollinator and a Predator

Did you know that over 925,000 species of insects have been identified? Entomologists believe this is only 20% of the total number of insect species in the world. While all insects play in important role in the life cycle of something, the most prolific ones seem to be the ones that are simply a pain to have around. Ants, fleas, hornets, mosquitoes, cockroaches – you can probably add to this list with the ones that invade your home or garden!

Some flies and gnats were sitting on my paper and this disturbed me; I breathed on them to make them go, then blew harder and harder, but it did no good. The tiny beasts lowered their behinds, made themselves heavy, and struggled against the wind until their thin legs were bent. They were absolutely not going to leave the place. They would always find something to get hold of, bracing their heels against a comma or an unevenness in the paper, and they intended to stay exactly where they were until they themselves decided it was the right time to go.
– Knut Hamsun, Hunger –

The Bee Fly is one of those insects that has a good side and a bad side – it is a Pollinator but it is also a Bee Predator.

This Bee Fly was drinking nectar from the flowers of a Spiraea Bush. From a distance, it was just a small black fly. The story changed with the macro lens – two tone wings and big buggy eyes!

Bug Bits
Name:  Bee Fly
Family:  Bombyliidae
Native to:  The Bombyliidae Family of insects are found throughout much of the world. Little is known about them due to lack of research. They are flower pollinators.
Date Seen:  June 2019
Location:  North of Calgary, Alberta
Notes:  Bee Flies have two membrane-like wings, often with interesting patterns on them. They spread their wings out when they rest. Their bodies are usually covered with fine gray, yellow, brown and/or black hairs. The dark side of it’s life cycle is – bee fly eggs are laid in underground bee nests. The resulting larva feeds on bee stored pollen and also eat bee larvae.

Digital Magic
I ran the Bee Fly through Topaz Studio filters and this is what I got:

Topaz Studio Cartoon Filter
Topaz Studio Kaleidoscope Filter
Topaz Studio Painter filter
Topaz Studio Telb014 filter

What is your tolerance level for insects when a fly lands on your kitchen counter, an ant tries to make off with a crumb from your picnic plate, a mosquito makes a withdrawal from your blood bank or a flea makes your dog itch?

This and That – Mystery Macro

Mystery Macro. The Car Guy was playing with the macro (close-up) setting on my little Panasonic camera. What do you think he took a picture of? Hint, he was sitting at his desk, enjoying his breakfast beverage.  (Answer at the end of this post).

The Quippery

Fun with fruit – Topaz Studio Rembrandt filter

Sometimes you don’t have what you thought you had, but what you got was pretty good… In this case, the landscaper told us he had planted a navel orange tree, and it turns out we probably have a tangelo. Seedless fruit, a bit hard to peel, with a distinctive bump on the top – a nice fruit for breakfast.

Answer to the Mystery Macro – the handle of a black coffee mug with reflections from the window.

Frozen – As Cold as Mars

It was very cold here in Alberta in late December 2017 and early January 2018. The overnight low temperatures were below -20C (-4F) for 7 days straight during the holiday season. The lowest temperature was -31C (-24F). January 2018 was briefly milder before sinking into another 4 day stretch of extreme cold. When it finally warmed up to a balmy -8C we packed the Jeep and made a dash to warmer climates for a while!

As Alberta was plunged into extreme cold warnings on Boxing Day…  Alberta was about as cold as Mars’ Gale Crater, the home of the Curiosity rover. Mars is subject to pretty violent temperatures shifts, and Curiosity regularly encounters temperatures below -80 C. But this week, the highest temperature experienced by the rover were -23 C. A Calgary Boxing Day shopper, therefore, might have found themselves getting into a car that was literally colder than a Martian spacecraft.
– Tristin Hopper, National Post, Dec 27, 2017 –

Snow Flakes, sharpened and color corrected

We spent a lot of time indoors in December and January. Inconveniently, it snowed regularly. I did a lot of snow shoveling, but only for short periods of time. It was just too cold. As for The Car Guy and the tractor – neither would start on several occasions…

Canada is one of the coldest countries in the world, having an average yearly temperature of about -5C. Viewed through this lens, it is no wonder that by the New Year we start to forget that we ever had summer…

By January it had always been winter.
– Annie Proulx, Shipping News –

How has your winter been so far?

Water Fountain Bubble

I could have (okay I did) spend hours one afternoon in front of a water fountain – taking photos of ‘never two the same’ Shape Shifting Blobs and impressively big Bubbles.

Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,

Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing,

For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

– William Shakespeare –

Striped Coralroot Orchid – On Going Unnoticed

I thought I had met most of the residents of my forest (north of Calgary, Alberta) – I’ve been tromping along it’s paths looking at plants and birds and bugs for 26 years! But in early June, I discovered a ‘new to me’ plant – a Striped Coralroot Orchid. I don’t know how long this tiny 13 cm (5 inch) plant has lived here – perhaps for years, or maybe it is a fairly new arrival!

Robert Frosts poem, On Going Unnoticed, exactly captured my thoughts as I looked down on the small clump of beautiful pinky-red flowers – they “… look up small from the forest’s feet“. If I hadn’t been walking in that area at the same moment that a small shaft of sunlight briefly illuminated the tiny plants, I would probably never have found them.

Alberta pink

Alberta pink

Alberta pink

Alberta pink macro

Plant Profile
Common Name: Striped Coralroot Orchid
Scientific Name: Corallorhiza striata
Native to: Found in shaded forests and wooded areas across southern Canada and the western and central United States
Growth: Coralroot is a member of the orchid family, with underground rhizomatous stems that resemble coral. It is a non-photosynthetic plant with leaves that are little more than scales on the stems. The Coralroot Orchid in my yard is almost 5 inches tall.
Blooms: It produces a mass of yellowish pink to red flowers, with several darker purple veins giving the appearance of stripes. In my yard, it bloomed in early June.
Comment: The plants get nourishment from dead leaf matter by being parasites of fungi in the soil.

Bubble Filters

Photos altered with Topaz Studio. The first photo in the sequence below was one of the bubbles without any filters. The second photo was after sharpening. The third photo was smudged and textured. The last photo was converted to greys and textured. When I was done, I felt a bit like a Witch reciting transformation incantations…

Macro Photos – Vaguely Familiar Abstracts

Can you guess what these ‘abstract photos’ are – from the hints in the quotations below the photo?

Arizona golden barrel cactus

There was a rough stone age and a smooth stone age and a bronze age, and many years afterward a cut-glass age. In the cut-glass age, when young ladies had persuaded young men with long, curly mustaches to marry them, they sat down several months afterward and wrote thank-you notes for all sorts of cut-glass presents…
– F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Cut-Glass Bowl –

hood side vents

…we live on the edge of the abstract all the time. Look at something solid in the known world: an automobile. Separate the fender, the hood, the roof, lie them on the garage floor, walk around them. Let go of the urge to reassemble the car or to pronounce fender, hood, roof. Look at them as curve, line, form.
― Natalie Goldberg, Living Color: Painting, Writing, and the Bones of Seeing –

 Spruce Needles Snow

The pine stays green in winter… wisdom in hardship.
– Norman Douglas –

Spruce Sap

Deciding whether or not to trust a person is like deciding whether or not to climb a tree because you might get a wonderful view from the highest branch or you might simply get covered in sap and for this reason many people choose to spend their time alone and indoors where it is harder to get a splinter.
― Lemony Snicket, The Penultimate Peril –

Here are what the photos are:
The first is a close up look at a cut-glass bowl.
The second is the side of the hood of a 1934 Ford custom roadster – sold at Barrett-Jackson in 2016 for $60,500.
The third is a close up of spruce tree needles peeking out of the snow.
The last is a drop of spruce resin (sap).

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge – Abstract