Friday, September 23, 2016

The Mystery Of The Blood Red Bugs

I took pictures of some milkweed plants while I was out on another everyday adventure back some years ago. I saw milkweed plants before that, and have talked about them here in the past many times. I wanted a small update for myself because I've always liked milkweed.

When I got back home and examined the pictures from the day, I got a little surprise. That seems to happen to me a lot. I was checking out the pictures of these milkweed plants, when I saw these little blood red bugs crawling all over some of them.

I examined the pictures very closely. I zoomed in to see as much as I could. You can see the discoloration of the pod that they're on in the last picture. I'm assuming it's either dead or dying. In one place to the top of the group of bugs, one bug is seen boring right into the side of the seed pod. A little on the lower end there is a bug already embedded in the pod.

What were these bugs? I was fascinated by them. I was, and still am, a little repulsed. They're feeding on, and even destroying my beloved milkweed plants! I had to find out what they were. I decided to search everywhere I could, with every resource I had. I think I found the answer!

These bugs are called Small Milkweed Bugs (Lygaeus kalmii). I wasn't at all sure at first, because the pictures I saw didn't look quite the same. The pictures I found showed something that was more orange and black, instead of these blood red things.

As I did further research, I found that these are the only insects that eat from the pods. They like the taste of the seeds apparently. I also found out that the nymphs (young ones) are red just like in my picture above. As they grow older, they grow more orange and develop black areas.

These bugs can be found in large numbers on milkweed plants. They mate right on the plants. They also feed on the seeds late in the season, which would be right around October when I took these pictures that year. They also suck the nectar from the flowers of various herbaceous plants. In the spring they are also reported to be scavengers and predators, since milkweed seeds are scarce.

The only thing that confused me was that these appear to be nymphs. I thought before that I would only see them earlier than now. But I found out more.The adults lay their eggs on the milkweed in the spring, and they have sometimes more than one generation in a year. That would likely solve my nymph mystery.

As to the noticeable red coloring of the small milkweed bugs. This coloration and the fact that they don't seem to move around very quickly, tells us something about them. After feeding on the poisonous milkweed seeds, these bugs have themselves now become poisonous. They are immune to any poisons from the plant, but any potential predator is not. The red coloration is a warning for predators not to eat them.

Well there you go. That explains what these blood red bugs are. This article is now the best place on the internet to find information on Small Milkweed Bugs. I have gathered together more information on them than any other website I have found so far. It's my gift to you. If you can show me otherwise, I'll post new information and give you credit.

Another mystery solved by The Everyday Adventurer. I'm just like Scooby Doo, except with an eye patch. (That last part was for my old friend Alice. I'll have to tell all of you newer readers about her sometime.)

I'll talk to you later.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Surprise Flowers

I have two surprises for you today! The first surprise is these flowers. I keep saying that I almost never see flowers around here. And I really don't, but here are these. When I see them I make sure I get at least a few pictures.

I'm lucky I had my phone this time because these flowers were tiny and the phone zooms right in and gets good focus on small things. My big camera doesn't do quite as well in automatic mode. Now whenever I have something small to share I use the phone.

And you may not have noticed my second surprise. There's a bug in the picture above. I don't know whether I caught him by surprise or he just diesn't move anymore. But I got the bug in the picture too. And it's a nice clear shot. Pretty good for just one picture.

And I found another flower! I said I had two surprises, but does another flower count as a third? This looks to be some kind of thistle, maybe of the Canadian variation, but it's kind of small compared to most. This flower is also tiny, but not as small as the others.

This is a nice lavender colored flower, but you won't want to pick it. It bites. Look at those thorns below the flower. I don't like that part. Such a shame. I wanted to pick this flower to death so much too.

I would have posted more pictures this time, but I only had these two. Like I said, I don't see many flowers around here. Maybe I need to look harder. My next trip might have more flowers or some other interesting plants. I guess we'll find out next time. I'll talk to you later.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Hills So Steep

I recently visited a new nature park, kind of. This new park is actually the back entrance of Five Ridge Prairie Preserve. I've visited the front entrance several times over the past few years. The reason that it is new is because this park is so big that I've never been anywhere close to this end of it.

The park is very hilly and even if I was still in my best shape I'm not good enough to hike through the whole thing. The hills just about kill me. And that brings me to the good and bad points of this mostly new nature park.

First of all, this end of the park is beautiful. It's almost exactly what I've been looking for in a nature park. The trails are only just wide enough to walk through, and there are lots of trees. The trees are the important thing for me. I love being surrounded by trees on a good nature trail. And this park doesn't disappoint with trees.

But now comes the part I didn't like, and it was unfortunately a deal breaker. This main trail goes up a very steep hill. Take a look in the picture above. You can kind of see it. Pictures never show hills properly for some reason.

I said before the hills just about kill me, even at the best times. My back has become weak, and I can't seem to fix it, so I do the best I can. Surprisingly it wasn't my back that was the problem here. It was my legs. I went as far as I could before I was in agony, and I had to turn back.

It's hard to see it in the picture above, but from here I could just see the top of the hill. I couldn't walk any farther. At least I got a picture. I had to turn around and make my way back down the steep hill. It was a much easier journey on my legs, but going down the hill was much harder to maneuver. I had to be very careful not to slip and fall.

After awhile I made it back down to the bottom and to the beginning of the trail again. I knew I wouldn't be back here again for quite some time, and I was regretting it because the trails are so nice looking. I really wish they were flatter. It would become my favorite park if that were so.

So now my next plan is to visit the other end of the park. I can walk much farther there. That end is good, but the trail looks like an access road. I like the small forest trails better. They make me think of hidden secrets to explore so much more than others.

So I guess I'm done here until my next adventure. This one was a little more serious this time. That's sometimes good. We'll see what my attitude is next time. And until then, I'll talk to you later.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Henry's Horrible Hallucination

I'm having a little trouble hunting for new material right now so I decided to bring back some strange fun from the past. You might like reading this or you might just think I'm strange. This will be new to most of you, but a long time reader will remember this one. I hope you like it either way. And besides...

A Little Fiction Won't Hurt You

Hello, my name is Henry. I have a story to tell you about something that just happened to me. It might seem strange, but I think I've been hallucinating. I mean, it must all be a hallucination, right? It has to be!!!

It all started when I was reading a story on the internet. It was about some idiot who started a war with a bunch of squirrels. The story was kind of stupid but I liked it anyway, so I decided to look through the site. As I started reading I saw that there were some very good ideas on how being out in the middle of nature can relieve some of the stress from our everyday lives, so I decided I might try it for myself.

After one particular tiring day at work, I was driving home through a wooded area. I saw a sign for a nature preserve, and I decided to stop and go in. I noticed it was just like the website said, there was a small dirt trail leading into the woods, and a sign with some park rules. I was still kind of stressed out, and I didn't need no stinking rules, so I walked right in without reading them.

I have to tell you, after walking for a little ways in the woods, my stress began to melt away. The air smelled so fresh. And there were all sorts of beautiful plants, little animals like squirrels and a few other cute little things. I didn't start any wars though, I was too relaxed now. As a matter of fact, I was feeling so relaxed that I decided to take a little siesta beside a tree that I saw several feet off the trail. Just a short nap, no big thing.

I must have been asleep longer than I thought, because when I woke up it was beginning to get dark. I figured I'd better get up and head on home. I really felt much better now than when I got here. I was going to remember to come back here as often as I could. As I got to my feet, I heard the sound of a man clearing his throat.

I turned toward the sound and saw a man standing there in a white suit. Everything about this guy seemed to sparkle. His suit was the cleanest I've ever seen, complete with a very odd looking blood red tie. That tie really stood out for some reason. He was a tall slim man with slicked back black hair and a little thin mustache, and he was looking right at me. If you're not already thinking it, I'll say it. This was really strange out here in the forest!

Since he was staring so intensely at me, I decided to ask him, "Uhmm, is there something you want?"

"Well of course there's something I want," he said. "I want you! I mean, I want to talk to you. I have a deal for you, and I don't think you can refuse this one." I began to put two and two together, and I remembered reading stories like this before. I didn't think he had any deal that I'd really like. This kind of deal never worked out very well for guys like me, and I told him so.

He kind of laughed and said, "That's all in the past! In these modern times I let you think it out before we finalize the deal. In the past it was just my inexperience that led to a few bad endings to a few little agreements."

"What happened with those past agreements? I don't want something bad to happen to me. Not that I'm agreeing to anything, I just want to know," I said suspiciously.

He said, "Well, there was the time a man asked for one billion dollars and..."

"Wait a minute," I said. "A billion dollars! So you really are..."

"That's right! The one and only... But let me finish," he said. "I gave him the money, all in pennies, and I kind of accidentally dropped it on him all at once. That was too bad for him," he chuckled. "We'll make sure that won't happen with you though. You're much smarter than him. And besides, I'll protect you for this one because I'm trying to repair my bad reputation. It's just not good for business to keep letting my marks die on me."

I didn't like the way this was going, so I asked him how he would guarantee that I wouldn't die. I figured that if I played along, he'd let me leave soon. He said, "Well, I'll make sure you don't ask for anything quite so outrageous as a billion dollars. It's always the greed that does 'em in, so try to ask for something that might help others. You know, like having a superpower or something. You could be some sort of superhero, and I guarantee you won't die."

Actually, I thought, this was getting interesting now. A superpower sounded kind of cool. I know, I could be Superman! Wait, no, that was getting greedy and he said not to be greedy. I'll only pick one superpower, but which one?

"I want to fly! I mean, I want the power of flight," I told him.

"A wonderful choice," he exclaimed. "You will have the power of flight. It will last your whole lifetime, and I guarantee that no physical harm will come to you as a direct result. Your wish is granted. The deal is done!" As soon as the last words were out of his mouth he disappeared in a puff of smoke.

I was kind of scared, but it was too late, the deal was done. I decided that maybe I should try out my new special power. I jumped into the air, and nothing happened. Just kidding! I flew! I was now soaring freely in the air! I was really flying! I did it! I was the first one to get the better of him in a deal!

Because this was so great, I decided to fly around for the rest of the day. I eventually tired myself out, so I decided to find another nice place to rest, somewhere nearby. I looked down and saw a piece of land in the middle of a small lake. That looked like as good a place as any to take a nap after my first day as the newest superhero.

I woke up to the sound of footsteps coming towards me. I thought it was him again coming to try and change the deal since I had beaten him so badly. But when I turned to look I saw a completely different sight. It was some big idiot wearing a hat of fake mouse ears and a toy eye patch. He was running towards me with a camera in his hand!

He lifted the camera in my direction and took a picture. I angrily looked at him with my head cocked to the side and yelled, "HONK!!!"

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Back With An Interesting Bug

Since I haven't been on the internet for a month my writing is a little bit rusty. I'll leave my absence up to your wildest imaginations. But now I'm back and I've brought this interesting bug with me. It's good to be back.

The bug appears to be a moth of some kind, but I'm not really even sure about that. I found it on the front of my house. It was sitting there just looking cool one night so I whipped out my phone and took a picture of it. Having the smartphone with me really is handy.

I only have the one good picture so I'll keep the post short. I hope to have more posts starting in a few days. But I don't have any material yet so I'm not sure how soon I'll be back. Hopefully it won't be another month. I'll talk to you later.