Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Son Snaps Dramatic Shot For Dad

This is a story about a photo I did not take, because I chickened out.

You can read the story and see how Lincoln Electric used this image of Sears Tower at this link
 Son Snaps Dramatic Shot for Dad

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bugs Playing Possum

Eastern Tent Caterpillars are the larvae of the Lackey Moth. The moth lays its eggs around a tree branch and the caterpillars hatch from eggs the following Spring when leaves unfold. They go through about a half dozen larval stages of development called instars.  They make the silk tents you probably have noticed in the branches of trees in the Spring. During the final stage, they consume most of the food of their whole life cycle, and may nearly defoliate their tree, which likely will recover. They stay in their tent to keep warm, move around the tent to regulate the temperature, and whenever it gets too warm they move to the outside surface of the tent to cool down, as you see in this image.

After about two months they are in their final larval stage and leave their tree to find protected places to spin their cocoons. It was at this stage that I was preparing to photograph an adult caterpillar on a sidewalk beneath its natal tree. I was positioning my tripod when I noticed the caterpillar was on its back and not moving, apparently dead. I felt bad because I assumed I had killed it with my tripod.  To record its now visible legs I snapped this picture.

A few seconds later a Carpenter Ant, which must not mind dead prey, grabbed the carcass and started to drag it away. Suddenly the caterpillar came to life, flipped over and violently shook the ant off, after which I took this photo.

 I had never heard of a caterpillar playing possum like this. I did a little research and found that some caterpillars and other insects discourage predators by playing dead - a strategy called thanatosis.

To complete the story, a female caterpillar would go on to spin a cocoon and in a couple of weeks emerge as an adult moth full of eggs. Then within about 24 hours it will secrete pheromones to attract a male moth to fertilize the eggs, lay the eggs on a branch, and die, thus completing this life cycle. The male moth may go on to fertilize multiple egg masses over a period of more than a week.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering September 11th - Butterflies

Ten years ago today, September 11, 2001, was a beautiful day just like today. I watched the sun rise at Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve in Elgin Illinois. As the morning warmed up the butterflies fluttered about and posed for pictures like this Tiger Swallowtail female on Spotted Joe Pye Weed. It was very still and peaceful, and for the first time in my life I noticed I could actually hear the larger butterflies' wings flapping! I know it sounds crazy, but just concentrate on it sometime on a quiet morning and you may be surprised like I was. This was still on my mind when I came home in the early afternoon and was hit with the news of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon like a bucket of cold water in the face bringing me back to "civilization".

Monday, August 22, 2011

Yellow-necked Cowbird

This juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird has a yellow neck. I've never seen one like this before, and I was unable to find one like this in any field guides or websites.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bird Cannibalism

If you are like me, you've never thought much about bird cannibalism. I think it was mentioned as one of the many problems experienced in raising fowl in a book I used to read about poultry management because it reminded me how little I knew about things.

I once watched this Marabou Stork eating a dead nestling that had fallen into the moat surrounding a Heron rookery in Kenya, but it didn't strike me as cannibalism at the time, maybe because a different species was involved. It seemed more like a Timber Wolf eating a Caribou at the time. Take a look at the picture and see how it strikes you.

A few years later though, I felt a little like Clarice when I watched Hannibal Magpie eating one of his own, maybe even a relative or mate. This was in the Badlands though, where food is very scarce, so when you look at the pictures you might be reminded more of the Donner-Magpie Party near the end of their trip.

Jerry Tang

Friday, September 25, 2009

"Don't Bite My Head Off" - Praying Mantis to the Mrs.

I thought this crazy looking critter would be just the one to welcome you to Tang's Photo Memories Blog Hope. I found her lying in wait for insects in a cinquefoil bush just outside our offices.

I think she might be an unlikely European Mantid because of the dark spot under her foreleg where it meets her body, but I'm not sure, because there is supposed to be a white spot in the middle of the dark spot. It might be missing because she is young. I know she is young because her wings are barely developed. If she's not European, she is the more likely Chinese Mantid. Maybe you can tell me for sure which she is. I do know she is a she because I counted eight segments on her abdomen, whereas the smaller male has only six, plus she has two cerci at the end of her abdomen for inserting eggs.

Most people would call her a Praying Mantis, because of the position she holds her forelegs in. Other people think of her as a Preying Mantis because of the way she preys on insects, including her mate sometimes if he hangs around too long after fertilizing her eggs. She sits incredibly still until an insect approaches, then unfolds those clamp-line forelegs in the blink of an eye to grab her prey. Then she bites its head off.

The name of the blog, and of the company, is a pun-filled tribute to a late great comedian and his famous theme song. Try singing the name of the company, pausing after Tang's.

Jerry Tang