Aster Visitors

Late in the year few flowers are blooming except asters.  I am not sure the species, nor have I taken the time to identify the insects that I photographed.  Maybe it is because I am hearing the presidential debates in the background, but I want to think visually, and forget about the verbal world now.





I almost can’t hear what they are saying.

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Bugs I Hate

I admit that I am a little different than most folks.  I enjoy watching insects.  I find their behaviors fascinating and some are quite beautiful.  I like most and there are some I am pretty indifferent about.  And then there are some that I really hate.


The tiny bugs to the right are insidious flower bugs, or minute pirate bugs, Orius insidious.  The fly to the left is really small, so you can get a good idea of the size of these bugs.  O. insidious is widespread in the environment, and are voracious predators of small insects and mites.  As such, they are usually considered “good” insects.  Most of the year they are widespread and you will probably not encounter one.

However, here in Iowa, when the crops are being picked–soybeans in particular, but also corn, these bugs suddenly find themselves without a habitat where they prefer to be.  So they leave.  As they fly around looking for a place to live, they sometimes land on people.  And they bite when they do.

Two thirds of Iowa is row crop land, and if you live in the country the percentage is higher.  So they wonder around looking for habitat, and you might be it–they might have to bite you to find out if you are.  Their bite hurts, and there are a lot of these tiny insects.

Other places have “no-see-ums” that are flies or gnats.  What bites us here, and what we call no-see-ums are these tiny pirate bugs.

I hate ’em.


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Attitude in a Small Package

I split some firewood yesterday.  The wood was still fairly wet, from a branch which fell in the summer of 2015.  It still had bark on it, but the bark was loose, allowing for lots of critters to live underneath.

I saw this pseudoscorpion once I had freed some bark from the wood.9-24-160032

Although I don’t see them often, I suspect that pseudoscorpions are not uncommon here.  They are small.  The average grain of sand is larger.  But pseudoscorpions have cool looking claws and seem to project an attitude that grains of sand do not have.

They have grain of sand bodies with pea gravel-sized attitude.

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Osceola Died Because He Refused Modern Medical Treatment

Osceola was captured under a flag of truce, then died while still in prison.  The physicians who saw him wanted everyone to know that they were not responsible for his death.  He died because he refused medical treatment.


Osceola, from McKenney and Hall, History of the Indian Tribes of North America

Osceola, from McKenney and Hall, History of the Indian Tribes of North America

From the February 17, 1838 Niles National Register:

At the request of Dr. Weedon, I visited Oceola at Sullivan’s Island.  I saw him in the evening, by candle light–he was lying on his blanket before the fire, his head propped up, and two Indian women (one on each side of him) employed bathing his neck with warm water, in which some herbs had been steeped.  He was breathing with much difficulty, his brow contracted, and his countenance indicating great bodily pain.  His pulse was full and quick, skin hot and dry.  I requested his permission, through the interpreter, to examine his throat, to which he assented.  I discovered that the tonsils were so much enlarged as greatly to impede respiration, and that the mucous membrane of the pharynx was in a high state of inflammation.  As there was some danger of suffocation unless the disease was arrested, I proposed to scarify the tonsile.  The patient referred us to his conjurer, who was sitting on the floor covered up in his blanket, with all the air and dignity of a great man.  He said no!  I next proposed to apply leeches to the throat and back of the ears–the conjurer said no!  I proposed lastly some medicine and a stimulating wash to be applied internally–which he also refused–saying that if the patient was not better in the morning, he would give him up to us.  I urged, entreated, and persuaded him, to let us do something, for although I did not doubt his ability to cure, in the woods, where he could have access to his roots and herbs–yet here he was placed under different circumstances, as he had no means within his reach–begged him to yield up the patient to us.  All was in vain, and we were finally compelled to abandon Oceola to his fate.

In conclusion, I have no hesitation in declaring that I entirely coincided with the views and prescriptions of Dr. Weedon, and believe that had he been permitted to put them in practice, the patient would have recovered.


Professor of Anatomy, Medical college, S.Ca. Charleston,

5 February, 1838

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Late Season Butterflies


I walked around a little today and found this eastern comma.  Initially it was in the driveway, appearing to sample the dirt for minerals.  Then it went to the yard, and stuck its tongue on and around one of the plants.


I am not really sure what it was doing.  It seems to be similar to commonly seen “mudding” behavior.  Or maybe it was looking for just tasting stuff.  This species of butterfly is often seen on rotting fruit or sap leaks on trees.

There weren’t a lot of butterflies flying today, at least when I was out looking for them.  I did find this tattered Peck’s skipper getting a little nectar from a red clover.


The end of the butterfly season is right around the corner.

I am going to continue to enjoy them while I can, then miss them for a short while when they are gone.

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This is Osceola


This is George Catlin’s painting of Osceola.

Iowa has an Osceola County and also a city named Osceola, which is located in Clarke County.

A high school girl’s basketball team, the Clarke County Indians, put together a poster celebrating their upcoming season.  The poster was very well made from a photographic standpoint, but totally clueless in its sensitivity to cultural and racial issues.  There is a fairly active debate on Facebook regarding whether or not it was culturally insulting, with some people arguing that this is a made-up issue, or political correctness gone wild.

The answer is pretty obvious.  We are all clueless here.

Race doesn’t matter in America.  Until it does.  Then it can become everything.

I went to North Mahaska schools, never knowing who Chief Mahaska was.  (There were actually two).  Poweshiek, Keokuk, Black Hawk, Wapello,  and Appanoose all spent time in Iowa.  Osceola did not.

Osceola was of mixed blood, probably mostly Caucasian but also Creek, and raised as a Creek.  He was part of a band that fled to Florida after being defeated by United States troops.  There he joined the Seminole, and fought with them in the Second Seminole War.

He was captured under a flag of truce in 1837, and placed in prison.  Americans generally were pretty ashamed of the treatment he got, and it caused a national scandal.  George Catlin rushed to South Carolina and convinced Osceola to allow him to paint his portrait, which is shown here.  Osceola died of disease while in prison within a few months of this painting.

I think it is great that we have counties and cities in Iowa that are named after Native American leaders, even those that did not live here.

But we should take the time and effort to know who they were.



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More Insects

Here are some photos from yesterday.


A dance fly, possibly Empis clausa.


Peck’s skipper, Polites peckius.


And a small bee, possibly Ceratina.

The weather is still nice, but turning to autumn.

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Bucket Photography

Sometimes when I do my macro photography I take a five gallon bucket with me.  I turn it over and use it like a chair.  It is easier to manage than most chairs, especially in tall weedy areas.  Being able to comfortably minimize movement and focus on the subject makes it easier to get a good shot.

Today I noticed several silver-spotted skippers working a sedum patch for nectar.  So I sat on my bucket and waited for just the right angle.


I kind of liked this view.


This worked well also.

The five gallon bucket–an important macro photography accessory.

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White Pelicans in Flight


Yesterday I spent some time at Saylorville Reservoir and watched some white pelicans in flight.

My photos do not do them justice.  These huge birds have a graceful, soaring flight.  When seen from a distance they are magnificent.  As the flock slowly turns, there is a change in the color as those flying away show the black trailing feathers, and those flying toward the viewer appear mostly white.


I watched for a while and felt a calmness.

Beautiful birds.

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Good Day to be Outside

It was a good day to be outside today.  I went down to Medora Prairie–I was not feeling my best, but I thought some butterfly action might cheer me up.


Cabbage whites are pretty common in Iowa, but they can make an impact anyway.  This is an attempt at mating, but I understand that what the butterfly on the bottom of the photo is doing is called the “rejection display.”  She wants nothing to do with him.


One of our late-season butterflies is the gray hairstreak.  They may or may not overwinter here–our Iowa butterfly experts think they don’t.  They are often seen in good numbers in the late summer and early fall, though.


Our two most common butterflies are quite similar in appearance, the clouded sulfur and the orange sulfur.  This is not one of those.  This is the sleepy orange–fairly common in states to our south, but usually not seen in Iowa.


A spectacular large yellow butterfly is the cloudless sulfur.  It is also common in states to the south of here, but usually rare here.  I usually only see it once every two or three years.

It was a good day to be outside.  The butterflies were basking more than they were visiting flowers, and I was not as happy with my photographs as I would have liked.  Still, I did not spend the day inside.

A day spent outside with a camera beats a day  inside by a lot.

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