Monday, 26 September 2011

Ticks feeding on me!

I have been unwillingly providing a female deer tick with a meal!  After my shower I was rubbing cream on my elbow when I felt a little bump.  There was a speck of black on my elbow, just a tiny couple of millimetres sticking to my elbow.  No pain, no blood, nothing.  It was a tick.

So I got dressed and searched out the otom tick removal tool that I got from the vet for my dog (when we moved here 3 years ago the tick medicine I'd been giving her every month was not strong enough for the Upper Deeside ticks, so until the new stuff started to work she got ticks).  This tool looks rubbish, but it works a dream.  Anyway I hauled the thing out, and my elbow is fine, so I must have got all of the mouthparts.

Now I don't know whether to go to the doc to get checked out for Lyme disease.  My neighbour has had it, and it is nasty if untreated or undiagnosed.  All part of the joys of living in paradise, I suppose.

Only Bumbus pascuorum left

I've been in the garden turning compost all afternoon, and the only bumblebee I've seen is Bombus pascuorum.  It is lovely and warm today, but we have had some bad weather in the past few weeks, so perhaps things have come to an early end for the other species.  There are loads of pascuorum though, so they will have plenty of flowers to forage on.

I used to love my garden
But now my love is dead
For I found a bachelor's button
In black-eyed Susan's bed

C P Sawyer

Monday, 19 September 2011

Chimney sweeper moth

This is the Chimney sweeper moth, Odezia atrata.  In June and July the fields near my house were full of them, but I couldn't get a decent photograph.  They are too fast, small and nervous.  Also I wanted to show the white edging to the wings.  So I brought on home to photograph it on my dirty study window.  They are lovely little things, and I'd always thought they were butterflies until I looked them up in books.  They are actually in the Geometridae (loopers and inchworms) family, so I've added this on to that page.

I'm just finishing Peter Hadfield's 60 seconds that will change the world.  It is about the unpreparedness of Japan for the "big one" that is supposed to hit Tokyo.  It is a really good book.  It was written way back in the 90's before even the Kobe earthquake, but knowing the Japanese I wonder if much has changed even after the recent quake.

When I lived there I remember talking to some old people who lived through the 1923 Kanto earthquake.  In that one fire was the big killer, as it was during the bombing in WW2.  But when I moved to Niigata both fire and tsunami were the things to worry about if you survived the quake.  Many of my friends had been in the 1964 quake that caused widespread liquefaction of the ground, so being outside on bare ground was also seen as a hazard to avoid.
They told me that after the 64 quake many in the city centre made their way to the city office as quickly as possible, to try to get onto the roof and out of the way of the expected tsunami.  The city office was only 3 or 4 stories high, but it was solidly build and one of the few concrete buildings in the area.  Of course the tsunami, when it came, was only 2 metres, so they were all OK.  But as they waited they could see the river flowing backwards, and those who had been near the sore saw the sea disappear (apparently it went out 2 miles).  It was an anxious time for them all.

When I lived there is you wanted anything done to your house or apartment - insect screens fitted for example - one of the fist questions you would be asked was jishin mae ka jisisn ato (was it built before or after the quake).  I lived in a house built before the quake for a few months and soon learned that no right angle was 90 degrees, and no floor or wall was truly flat.  So it was impossible to get anything to fit exactly.

Now I'm looking for an even older book - Japan sinks by Sakyo Komatsu, but cannot get one at a decent price anywhere.  Oh well, I'll wait.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Leafcutter bee

Added this pic of a female leafcutter bee to the other bees pages.  I love its long ginger pollen carrying hair.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Pterostichus madidus a ground beetle

Just added a photograph of Pterostichus madidus to one of the ground beetle pages.  It is similar to Pterostichus niger, except that niger is slighly bigger - though their sizes do overlap - and niger has reddish antennae and a differently shaped thorax.

Well autumn is truly here.  This is the first day this year that I have lit my wood burner in the daytime.  It is cold and rainy outside.  And as soon as I have finished this I'm off to the woods with my dog for a wet walk.  She loves it, and I confess that after the first few minutes I do too - provided I'm dressed for it.

Went to try to buy a pair of waterproof boots this morning, but failed.  Every pair of boots I buy leaks after a while - it can take weeks or up to 3 months, but the so-called waterproof boots aren't.  You can hike, trek and climb mountains, but you cannot saunter through wet grass!  I wax the leather with Nikwax, and that helps a bit, but they will leak within days in wet weather.  Consequently I have about 6 pairs in various states of drying out waiting to be waxed.

I know I should wear wellies, and I do sometimes, but I like the support that boots have, and they are much more comfortable.

Bombus pascuorm workers are still foraging off the herbs and lavender in the garden.  A few queens of terrestris and lucorum are still around, but I haven't seen any pascuorum or hortorum for days.

I've just finished reading "Thinking the unthinkable, might there be no way out for Britain" by Tim Morgan from Tullett Prebon.  Scary reading, especially after reading Adam Fergusson's When Money Dies. Why don't those in power just admit how bad things are, then silly people with jobs and guaranteed final salary pensions might not want to go on strike so that others have to contribute so much more to their pension that they have none left to put into their own.

All people care about now is their entitlements.  We are not entitiled to anything.  We have responsibilities.

Taxes are there to run the country and to help the old, young and sick.  Ooh I am getting angry, but isn't it about time we paid our way?

To take a quote from one of my all time favourite books David Copperfield
“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six. Result happiness.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six. Result misery.”
I'm with Micawber on this, and the result is not just a miserable country, but a miserable world.

On a happier note I am just starting the the Goblet of Fire in my re-read of the Harry Potters.  And I'm glad to say I'm enjoying them as much the second time as I did the first.  I have also taken to P G Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster - rather late, I admit.  Perhaps it is the longing for a more innocent time.  I wish I had Bertie's standard of living and a Jeeves to look after me.

Oh well, the breadmaker has just pinged, so I'll take out the pine nut and pesto bread whose smell has been wafting from the kitchen.  Then off for a muddy walk, and back to warm bread and butter by a log fire - who am I to complain!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Silpha atrata, snail-eating beetle

This is Silpha atrata, it doesn't have a common name.  It is in the burying beetle family, but it is a snail eater.  It has a long head and a poisonous bite.  Both adults and larvae eat snails.

I found it on a woodland path in late May.  Unfortunately my dog had stood on it and killed it.  I noticed it because it was so shiny.  I imagine it had got washed out of a tree as we went for a walk after a heavy shower.  Since then I've seen a few more in the moss around the base of tree trunks and on the trunks itself.  I haven't seen one eating a snail yet though.  Perhaps they bite them then bury them.