Morning Garden Chat – KILL IT WITH FIRE

Morning everyone. I noticed yesterday that butterflies had started showing up on the weeds native flowering plants in my patch of green, so being an obsessive diligent photographer type I got out my macro and flash to capture a few of them shaking off that chrysalis hangover. Neither of these shots came out perfect by my tastes but they could make nice 8x10s on a wall somewhere. I noticed a few bees out among the flies and bumblebees, not as many as I expect by now, but still encouraging. I dread the year when I don’t see any.

Then one of those movie moments happened where you glance up from the very close subject of attention and the focus racks out to something more troubling. Ima put it below the fold and throw out a trigger alert because some bugs are less adorbs than others.

***Update***

Apparently the kaiju on my flowers is not deadly. Says MikeS,

It is is a large robber fly called Ospriocerus vallensis unsurprisingly the only common name I can find is “Large black and red robber fly” see:
http://bugguide.net/node/view/745696/bgpage

They are predators that catch other insects in flight. They are good for your garden as they eat other flies and many other pests. It isn’t likely to be aggressive since it is not a wasp and has not nest to defend, although it would certainly bite you with its piercing mouth-parts if you tried to catch it in your bare hand and iit would probably hurt.

The butterflies are also apparently not butterflies but some type of moth.

While I did not take the time to measure this insect with any precision, my feelings at the time suggest it was about half the size of a golden retriever. Says I to myself, maybe this is one of those harmless pollinating wasps. It seems a lot more interested in those flowers than say, murder, or laying eggs in a paralyzed host so the larvae can devour the helpless prey animal while it lives and feels. That reassuring feeling faded a bit when I went through my pics.

This raises a few questions in my mind.

1) WHAT THE HELL IS THIS? CAN IT KILL ME?

2) WTF WAS I THINKING USING A MACRO LENS. WITH A FLASH. UP IN ITS FACE. EIGHTEEN TIMES.

Discuss.






139 replies
  1. 1
    Another Holocene Humann says:

    It doesn’t look that freaky.

    Right before I left work yesterday my country coworkers killed a rattlesnake. It was small, a baby really, beautiful and cute and in a corner not really fussing at anyone. They killed it with a shovel. I guess that was best … electricity arcing can be beautiful too I suppose.

  2. 2
    Tim F. says:

    @Another Holocene Humann: True fact: baby rattlers are the most dangerous kind. They have not learned to regulate their venom delivery yet so they are much more likely to give you everything they have in one bite.

  3. 3
    Another Holocene Humann says:

    Let me tell you about some freaky wasps. A few years ago I had a job replacing road signs on u-channels. Well, as soon as we got into a country area those u-channels had all kinds of bugs in them, mainly wasps. We hit up the foreman for some cans of wasp spray (dunno why he was being so stingy with the stuff) and proceeded on.

    We get to this open, seemingly urbanized area and proceed with our wasp routine–bang the sign experimentally, nothing flies out, start cutting rivets. Well, we cut both rivets and pound them out and the sign comes off and the BIGGEST FUCKING WASP YOU’VE EVER SEEN is inside the uchannel building the first pieces of some sort of MEGAHIVE and it didn’t even pause when the sign was pulled away. It kept building away like some sort of FREAKY ALIEN INVASION.

    IT TOOK A WHOLE CAN TO KILL THAT THING.

  4. 4
    kbuttle says:

    Hey Tim,
    It looks like a pompilid – a family of spider-killing wasps. My guess is it was searching for crab spiders in and among the inflorescences. And not for nothing, but the top photos look more I’m body form like a stonefly than a butterfly, but it would be the world’s prettiest stonefly if so.
    Cheers,
    Blake

  5. 5
    Another Holocene Humann says:

    @Tim F.: It was kind of laying there being a snake, not in strike mode.

    It was, however, positioned near the door.

    I didn’t know that about baby rattlers although I was told all about head shape. For some reason when I moved here I was told all about markings and NOW they tell me look at the head. One disadvantage to where I grew up is that I learned not to be afraid of snakes and, um, there are some scary dangerous snakes in the Florida peninsula.

  6. 6
    p.a. says:

    She was obviously happy to see you. Use bugguide.net or insect identification.org to i.d. them.

  7. 7
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Another Holocene Humann: Yikes! On a related note, wasp spray is some seriously toxic shit. If I ever have to stand my ground against a home invader, they’re going to get a face-full of that shit, and they may well wish I’d merely winged them with a .22.

  8. 8
    kbuttle says:

    “in” body form – damn iPhone autocorrect.

  9. 9
    catperson says:

    Thank you for using strikethrough humor correctly. Please teach the other front pagers.

  10. 10
    kbuttle says:

    @Betty Cracker:
    Rattlesnakes, .22’s – what a thread. Makes me think of the scene Edward Abbey describes in Desert Solitaire when he’s taking in the morning sun on the deck of his trailer and after a few minutes notices that a rattlesnake is doing the same directly between his feet. He considers the .22 he’s got propped by the door behind him, and whether he can reach it without disturbing the snake in a way that gets him bit. He decides to just leave things alone, and trust instead in the comity, but admits that his decision ultimately came down to the likelihood not that he’d disturb the snake if he reached for his gun, but that he’d spill his coffee.
    Happy Morning, everyone.

  11. 11
    MikeS says:

    Hi Tim

    Those are Ailanthus webworm moths (Atteva aurea). That is a species native to the SE USA that feeds on plants native to the USA in the Simaroubaceae family. When Ailanthus (Tree-of-heaven) was introduced to this country they eventually started to eat it since it is in the same family and have now spread to attack this alien invasive tree over a good part of its range.

    They are great little moths to have around for that reason as well as looking so much like little jewels! More info: http://bugguide.net/node/view/430

    The large black and red insect looks like a fly (Order Diptera) to me because of the large eyes. I will have to go browse bugguide.net fot that now.

  12. 12
    raven says:

    Mating Mydas Flies

    The Mydas Fly, Mydas clavatus, is actually a true Fly, though it does mimic certain wasps as a defense mechanism. It does not bite or sting, and despite its large size and fierce appearance, it is perfectly harmless.

  13. 13
    raven says:

    @Betty Cracker: Gas and diesel works on wasps.

  14. 14
    p.a. says:

    Bella Moth.

    I get thumb-sized (length, not width) black wasps that luurv the tiny white blossoms on marjoram/oregano. I once saw sand being shot out of a wall drainage port. Thought it was a mouse messing around. Nope. Wasp. Biiigg wasp.

  15. 15
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Another Holocene Humann: Rattlers are not toys for tots.

  16. 16
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @raven: Paint thinner (mineral spirits) too.

  17. 17
    Alce_y_Ardilla says:

    Be thankful you dont live in Japan

  18. 18
    henrythefifth says:

    @Another Holocene Humann:

    Wonder if it was a cicada killer. I was in my yard last year and a wasp flies by and and takes something off a tree right in front of me. I then see it spiraling down through the air attached to a cicada! I had no idea what it was at the time, but took a pic of it as it was paralyzing the cicada on the ground. Apparently, they aren’t aggressive towards humans, but they are freaky big and scary looking (with a monster stinger). Beautiful though.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sphecius_speciosus

  19. 19
    Alce_y_Ardilla says:

  20. 20
    MikeS says:

    I found it!
    It is is a large robber fly called Ospriocerus vallensis unsurprisingly the only common name I can find is “Large black and red robber fly” see:
    http://bugguide.net/node/view/745696/bgpage

    They are predators that catch other insects in flight. They are good for your garden as they eat other flies and many other pests. It isn’t likely to be aggressive since it is not a wasp and has not nest to defend, although it would certainly bite you with its piercing mouth-parts if you tried to catch it in your bare hand and iit would probably hurt.

  21. 21
    p.a. says:

    @MikeS: I stand corrected. Ailanthus it is.

  22. 22
    Alce_y_Ardilla says:

    the above comment was about Japanese Hornets

  23. 23
    Chyron HR says:

    Is this going to be a stand-up fight, or just another bug hunt?

  24. 24

    We get freakishly large bugs here in south Florida, including the ubiquitous (if not correctly named) Palmetto bug, which is a cockroach the size of your little finger. They’re so famous they named an expressway after them (which brings to mind a horde of bugs all going one way bumper-to-bumper and suddenly changing lanes). They’re harmless in terms of biting, but like their ilk, they crawl out of the sewer and carry filth and disease. I found that Clorox Shower Cleaner kills them as fast as Raid.

    Out in the yard, I’ve recently been advised that we should let our flowering weeds grow so that bee colonies can thrive and recover from colony collapse. Or, as the button seen at last Sunday’s Quaker meeting said, “Give Bees A Chance.”

  25. 25
    MikeS says:

    @raven: Rave is right, It is a Mydas fly http://bugguide.net/node/view/2762
    They are in the same superfaimly as Robber flies but this one probably only eats nectar whether it eats other insects is not definitely determined.

    When I look closely at the headshot you can just make out the clubbed antenna which is characterisitc of the Family Mydidae.

  26. 26
    Comrade Mary says:

    If we’re going to talk about beautiful but scary animals, Toronto got to freak out over something that was not a monkey or a mayor yesterday. Someone took a video of what looked like a mini-alligator in the big lake at High Park, but wildlife experts went successfully captured it by the end of the day.

    Baby caimans are freakin’ adorable …

    “He kind of panicked initially and then once he realized I had him, he just kind of went limp,” Mr. Parker said, soaked to the shoulders in pond water. “He was calling for his mum. He was panicking, so he obviously thought, ‘Mum needs to come and help me out of this situation.’ But he’s good, he’s healthy and he looks all right.”

    Once on shore, the caiman rested calmly in the hands of Cheryl Sheridan, head zookeeper at Reptilia, who gently taped his mouth and answered questions from a horde of media before letting children pet and take photos with it. The caiman will spend the next few weeks at Reptilia, but due to lack of space, the zoo will be on the hunt to find it a permanent home elsewhere. Ms. Sheridan said it’s too small to tell if it is male or female and it’s difficult to estimate its age, but it is likely between a year and two years old.

    … but you still shouldn’t keep them as pets.

    Bonus caiman freakout picture.

  27. 27
    Karen in GA says:

    @catperson:

    Thank you for using strikethrough humor correctly.

    Ha! I thought I was the only one who ever noticed that, which led me to believe that maybe I was the one doing it wrong. I would just use strikethrough the way I thought it should be used (cross out what I really mean, replace with more acceptable term), and leave others to celebrate the strikethrough in their own ways. I figured that in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter — but then again, in the grand scheme of things what really does? So I’m going to own the validation I’m feeling right now.

    And… um… yeah. That’s a lot more text than I planned to devote to this subject. I should get out more.

    I don’t garden. I keep thinking of trying it, but I grew up in Brooklyn where a “garden” was a potted plant. My husband and I have almost an acre now, and he loves this stuff. There’s plenty of room for me to try it — but every time I think I might, I panic at the thought of going out in the dirt and getting nature all over me.

    (By the way, if anyone wants to click my name, Iggy decided he’s a mighty sea beast. [As long as I’m not blogwhoring more than I actually blog, I think I’m okay.])

  28. 28
    Cervantes says:

    Beautiful, thanks.

    That first one appears to be four-legged!

  29. 29
    Karen in GA says:

    @Comrade Mary: I have no way of knowing whether Kaleigh Rogers enjoyed writing the article, but it certainly looks like she did.

    Mr. Parker slithered slowly, silently through the still water, his eyes transfixed on the caiman. Then, in one swift motion, he snatched up the creature with both hands and lifted it triumphantly above his head to the cheers of the crowd watching from the muddy banks.

  30. 30
  31. 31
    big ole hound says:

    @Karen in GA: Remember getting nature all over you is a lot cleaner than sitting on a curb in Brooklyn or breathing city air. Try it, you’ll like it.

  32. 32
    Paul in KY says:

    @Another Holocene Humann: I think we just indiscriminately kill shit for no good reason, like the baby rattlesnake.

    If there is an afterlife, we may find ourselves judged harshly for killing these innocent creatures.

  33. 33
    Randy P says:

    I celebrate small successes in the garden, which is the only kind I ever get. My wife saved off a sprig of Thai basil from our last pho dinner, and decided to try to propagate it. I found a really cute YouTube on the subject (translating Mom’s advice from the Old Country while toddler plays in the background). Key points: pluck off all the mature leaves, and then bury the stem at least two joints deep. Roots start at those joints.

    My wife got three stems off that sprig and they are all friggin huge plants now, a couple of weeks later.

    The YouTube, alas, ended tragically. “Mom forgot to tell me not to put them in direct sunlight so they all died.”

  34. 34
    Randy P says:

    Does anyone know if you can get rosemary to root if a restaurant gives you a big fresh branch of it?

  35. 35

    @Karen in GA: Nature is touching me.
    I am not a huge of fan of creepy crawlies, the worst among them are cockroaches that fly. I encountered one on my India trip. Do. not. want.

  36. 36
    GregB says:

    Some thread theme music.

    Fire!

  37. 37
    Paul in KY says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: All cockroaches can fly, I think.

  38. 38
    Karen in GA says:

    @big ole hound:

    Remember getting nature all over you is a lot cleaner than sitting on a curb in Brooklyn or breathing city air.

    Fewer scorpions in Brooklyn, though.

  39. 39
  40. 40
    J R in WV says:

    Here in WV there are bright orange wasps, big suckers, that I am told sting really hard, tho I haven’t ever been stung by one myself. They don’t seem inclined to attack people but I’m sure that if you sat on one you would regret it.

    I read somewhere that the tarantula hawk wasp, which hunts tarantula spiders to lay its eggs (there’s a scary lifestyle!), and is metallic irridescent black and scary looking is one of the more painful insects to run into. Wiki says “he sting is considered the second most painful insect sting in the world.” after something called the bullet ant.

    Personally, hornets are the worst bug I’ve ever been stung by, they can jab you repeatedly, and it doesn’t get any better as they work on you. Big black suckers with white spots on their face.

  41. 41
    Another Holocene Humann says:

    @henrythefifth: I looked at your link. Wrong markings, and this mf-er was bigger.

  42. 42
    WereBear says:

    @Paul in KY: If there is an afterlife, we may find ourselves judged harshly for killing these innocent creatures.

    I hope so.

    In a past thread, there was mentioned the lament that our pets do not live as long as we do. But can you imagine the karmic karnage that would ensue when an animal is put down in a shelter, for no greater crime than that of being homeless, and eighty potential years is wasted?

    Bad enough now.

  43. 43
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Paul in KY:

    I think we just indiscriminately kill shit for no good reason, like the baby rattlesnake.

    I love snakes. Make my place as snake friendly as possible and celebrate every king snake and rat snake I find. But if I found a rattler or copperhead on my place, especially around the outbuildings, and was unable to safely capture it for transport, I would not think twice about killing it. My granddaughter means more to me.

  44. 44
    Bugboy says:

    “This raises a few questions in my mind.”

    I don’t think it’s a wasp at all, and the “stinger” appears to be one of the tarsal spines projecting from behind the abdomen. Wasps have a more constricted abdomen, while flies normally do not. Wasp stingers generally look more needle-like than horn-like. There is a wasp that has a horn-like stinger but it’s decurved, or curved upward.

    It looks like a robber fly to me, which sometimes are bee mimics, but you can tell for sure it’s not a wasp by the number of wings, flies have 2 wings and 2 vestigial wings known as “halteres” that act as counterweights. Wasps have 4 wings, with the forewings always larger than the hindwings.

  45. 45
    Paul in KY says:

    @J R in WV: I think Bullet Ants live in South & Central America. Getting stung by one is supposed to be as painful as being shot by a bullet. Have seen a coming-of-age ceremony on TV where boys have to stick their hand into a glove where these things sting them. Of course, they can’t run around shrieking, etc. (like I probably would).

  46. 46
    Bill D. says:

    You can’t assume that the “weeds” are native. Often they are not. Here in lowland California they’re 99% non-native. These are plants which adapted to disturbance long ago and which then glommed on to human settlements and farms as a great place to get disturbed soil with less plant competition. These species live fast, die young, and produce gobs of seed which widely disperses in search of new areas of disturbance.

  47. 47
    Paul in KY says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Understand your point of view. Hope you have taught your granddaughter about poisonous snakes, how to avoid them/identify them & how you have to agitate them to get them to strike you, etc.

    Or you will when she get’s older.

  48. 48
    Paul in KY says:

    @WereBear: Agreed. That would be worse.

  49. 49
    Bill Arnold says:

    @henrythefifth:

    I then see it spiraling down through the air attached to a cicada! I had no idea what it was at the time, but took a pic of it as it was paralyzing the cicada on the ground.

    Next time you see one sting a cicada, keep watching. The cicada + wasp is too heavy for level flight (Wasp on top, unlike the space shuttle :-). If she’s far from her burrow (a obvious hole in the sand), she’ll climb a tree with the paralyzed cicada then fly with it for maybe 75 feet, then find another tree, climb again, fly again.
    The european hornet, not as big but scary, is occasionally seen on the east coast; they have a fondness for insects gathered around lights at night (good hunting) so if you have a colony around, don’t leave the porch light turned on.

  50. 50
    Belafon says:

    I googled Ospriocerus vallensis to see what one looked like and the 18th picture is the boy rubbing Obama’s head. Pictures 16-20 are all because of Balloon Juice.

  51. 51
    elmo says:

    When we first bought this new house in SoMD I noticed that there were a lot of wasp-like creatures flying around, but no nests that I could discover. Fine, I thought, I don’t mind the non-aggressive variety. And for the most part, they were not the least bit interested in me, nor I in them. We lived in harmony.

    Then, last summer, while clad in shorts and a tank top, I sat on one.

    OMFG. I have been attacked by dogs, bitten by a cockatoo, broken my fingers, broken my ankle, been thrown from a donkey straight down onto my head like a fuckin’ dart, and set my own hair on fire. I have never in my life felt pain like that damn wasp sting. Now I am committed to jihad against all black flying insects, just to be sure.

  52. 52
    muddy says:

    I’ve had some kind of tiny wasp hanging around by the chair I sit in on the porch. It’s black with white stripes around the belly. About 1/2″ long. I was noticing it because it kept messing around by a piece of coral sitting on the table. It’s that rounded form of coral with the little rosettes. What sort of business would a wasp have with coral?

    Then I saw him go inside! There was a tiny hole between a couple of the rosettes. I noticed a tiny pile of sand on the table just below the hole. Sand from the Persian Gulf, gods know how long it resided inside. An archaeologist wasp!

    Now it has filled the hole and a small surrounding area with mud, it is nicely troweled over on the top. Very interesting to watch from a foot away over the course of a few weeks.

  53. 53
    muddy says:

    @elmo: I hope all those things didn’t happen at the same time.

  54. 54
    Bugboy says:

    @MikeS: I’d concur with it being a midas fly, predacious robber flies have mouthparts that look pretty nasty and are quite pronounced. This one seems to lack those piercing mouthparts. Midas flies are often bee mimics and tend to live in manure during the larval stage.

    There are many, many insect species, and many of them lack common names. There are wide variations over geographical ranges, as well as similarities between species within ranges, which causes some species to be grouped in “species complexes”. I am asked all the time by the press what this or that mosquito is called, and they mostly do not have common names. Even our “yellow fever mosquito” is poorly named, because it no longer carries yellow fever (in the States, at least) but now carries Dengue and Chikungunya.

    Taxonomy is a human construct for the most part, it’s pretty obvious when you get into higher animals what constitutes a “species” but lower animals the differences are not so plain. Even so, individuals can arise from hybrid matings, whether they are artifacts or speciation events is open to debate. I’ve done some work with a threatened species of watersnake, where I collected a hybrid between a salt marsh species and an upland freshwater species. In that case, the species was defined by scale rows and skin patterns, which were mixed in the hybrid I collected. State conservation officials took DNA samples from it before I released it, for further study.

  55. 55
    elmo says:

    @muddy:
    Ha! Actually, one of the dog bites (a protection-trained Rottweiler whom I pissed off on her own property, long story) actually did fracture a bone in my hand, but that wasn’t what I was thinking about.

  56. 56
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Belafon: and none of them are bugs. Google… shakes head.

  57. 57
    Randy P says:

    @elmo: When we lived in MD the worst pests were yellow jackets. Any time we tried to eat on the deck those guys would come swarming around. One time I accidentally walked through a nest in an old leaf pile on the ground.

    Have to admit that sting for sting the experience wasn’t probably as bad as a wasp. The cumulative effect was really bizarre because I was unconsciously slapping and dancing while first a message got to my brain “Red Alert! Something very bad happening on lower half of body!” and then finally about 5 seconds later consciously realizing what was happening.

  58. 58
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @muddy: I once was driving cross town while eating lunch. With out looking, I took a bite of my ham, lettuce and tomato sandwich while at a light. Felt something go “crunch” between my teeth… then POW!!! right on my tongue. Couldn’t hardly talk the rest of the day. Did manage to finish the sandwich tho.

  59. 59
    elmo says:

    @Randy P: Yikes! But to be honest, the image is funny as hell.

  60. 60
  61. 61
    Randy P says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Had a dog who would snap at bees and occasionally catch and eat one. It never seemed to bother her, I could never figure out why she wasn’t getting stung in the tongue.

    @elmo: It was only later that the “ow” message started to get through and like I said it wasn’t all that bad. Like I said, mostly bizarre, for my arms and legs to be on autopilot while the brain slowly catches up and tries to process what the limbs are doing and why.

  62. 62
    muddy says:

    One year I was putting the pool cover on by myself, and decided this could be best done from inside the pool. I was reaching over the edge to pull the edges of the cover into position, and cleverly grabbed a wasps’ nest under the rim by one of the vertical supports. Of course they all rushed out to get me. I dove under the water to evade them, but several got me in the ass as I went.

    I didn’t have any time to think about how long I should stay under, because I was instantly tangled in the pool cover, and couldn’t find the surface. Would have been wonderful to drown by wasp.

  63. 63
    Violet says:

    Well I do have butterflies in my garden. And moths. Among the butterflies are monarchs and swallowtails. I’ve got milkweed all over the garden–it re-seeds itself in various places year after year–which the monarchs like. The swallowtail caterpillar was on the parsley for days. Didn’t see where it went after that.

  64. 64
    raven says:

    Typical, I supply the correct answer and someone else gets credit.

  65. 65
    raven says:

    MikeS says:
    block July 8, 2014 at 9:43 am
    @raven: Rave is right, It is a Mydas fly http://bugguide.net/node/view/2762
    They are in the same superfaimly as Robber flies but this one probably only eats nectar whether it eats other insects is not definitely determined.

    When I look closely at the headshot you can just make out the clubbed antenna which is characterisitc of the Family Mydidae.

  66. 66
    cckids says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    wasp spray is some seriously toxic shit.

    No lie. Last summer, my just-turned 18-year-old daughter went on a 4000 mile, mainly solo, road trip, camping 5 nights of every 7. Nervous parents being what we were, we equipped her with wasp spray (rather than the handgun several people thought she should have). She never needed it, thankfully, for humans or wasps.

  67. 67
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Randy P: My sister’s dog would eat them like candy. Get stung every time. Snort, paw at it’s snout, make the funniest faces, than go right back and eat another one.

  68. 68
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @raven: Whadya want? Somebody to notice? ;-)

  69. 69
    Violet says:

    @raven: @raven: I’ll give you full credit, raven, if that makes you feel any better.

  70. 70
    raven says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Fuckers have me pied.

  71. 71
    Alce_y_Ardilla says:

    @jeffreyw: OMG! Don’t poke that sucker with a stick!

  72. 72
    raven says:

    @Violet: Dude is jealous cuz he knows my dogs are cuter than his.

  73. 73
    Susanne says:

    Rule of thumb: when the bugs in your immediate area are big enough to saddle, TIME TO MOVE.

  74. 74
    raven says:

    @jeffreyw: Sometime’s I see them in antique stores. What do people do to disarm them?

  75. 75
    raven says:

    @Susanne: Unass that mofo.

  76. 76
    Bugboy says:

    @raven: At least you weren’t given credit for the wrong answer, or being misquoted calling it a “pig fly” or something.

    A year or so back the press was having an orgy over our Florida “gallinipper” mosquitoes, as if it was some new freak bug. I joked about them being so big they would “break your arm” when they land on you, trying to make light of the media frenzy. Now, I’m quoted all over the internet saying they will break your arm when they land on you. Lesson here: NEVER joke with the media, they don’t have too much sense of humor…

  77. 77
    raven says:

    @Bugboy: Sounds like good advice.

  78. 78
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Comrade Mary:

    Poor little guy. Our local alligator was full-grown when his idiot owners decided he was too big to keep and set him loose in a local park. It took two years to catch him, but he’s now living happily with a lady alligator at the zoo.

    ETA: They sent everyone and his brother to try and catch him, including the (now late) Steve Irwin, but he was captured by a city employee who spotted him sunning himself on the grass and closed the gate to the fence.

  79. 79
    Howlin Wolfe says:

    @Another Holocene Humann: Coral snakes, oh my!

  80. 80
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @raven: If I recall correctly, smoke. I presently have one being built on one of my rear windows. Bald faced hornets are among the worst and I have to take care of this thing, but I keep putting it off ’cause bad ass mf’ers that they are they probably drink hornet spray at happy hour.

  81. 81
    Keith P. says:

    I’ve got these massive yellow-jacket-looking things in my yard. Then burrow these holes in the ground, but periodically, I have one fly by me. The body is about the size of my thumb; they look like those Japanese death hornets that can wipe out a bee hive in half an hour.
    Turns out that they’re harmless, but they are some scary, scary looking bugs.

  82. 82
    raven says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Like bee’s huh?

  83. 83
    Mary G says:

    @p.a.:
    Thanks for these links. My flowers, especially the succulents, are attracking all kinds of little wasps and pollinating bugs I have never seen before, and I was wondering how to ID them.

    @Betty Cracker: I just read in a couple of places that wasp spray is a much better personal defensive tool than mace is. I don’t know if I can get it here in CA. Probably don’t need it. I was surfing around online avoiding looking at my personal finances issues and saw the police activity report for our area for July 4: 25 arrests, none violent. One domestic disturbance, one drunk, and the rest were either loud music/party or illegal use of fireworks.

  84. 84
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @raven: Not exactly… smoke makes bees docile and aggressive so that one can harvest the honey w/o being stung, but it drives the hornets out of the nest. Again, I could be pulling this right out of my memory’s ass, so I am, at best, unsure.

  85. 85
    Mary G says:

    @Randy P: Here is a link to a discussion about rooting rosemary. Evidently it can be done. They talk about using honey in place of rooting powder, which I had never heard of, but it makes sense.

  86. 86

    @Mary G:

    I don’t know if I can get it here in CA.

    Yep. I just had the house painted and needed to clear the wasps out before the painters got there. Raid wasp spray was very effective. Has a pretty good range, too. Not sure about using it for personal defense. I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of it, but one benefit of mace and pepper spray is that they don’t cause long-term damage. If you shoot someone in the face with wasp spray and they lose their sight or some such, you may well get sued, even if it was legitimately self-defense.

    You need the stuff that the UC Davis police use. Surely Lt. Pike is endorsing a product by now.

  87. 87
    raven says:

    @⚽️ Martin: And the goddamn can is huge, how you gonna tote it?

  88. 88
    raven says:

    Washington (CNN) – The Republican National Committee announced Tuesday that their Site Selection Committee has picked Cleveland to host the 2016 Republican National Convention.

  89. 89
    realbtl says:

    When I lived in CA I used to (note tense) leave my full face helmet on the seat of my motorcycle in the garage. One morning I strapped the helmet on, fired up the bike and headed out as usual. As I left the driveway I flipped down the face shield and Holy Shit! 1 inch from my nose is an earwig. That close the sucker looked like Godzilla and I couldn’t tell whether it was on the outside or inside.
    Needless to say I then started inspecting my helmet closely before putting it on.

  90. 90
  91. 91
    Seanly says:

    Nice photos.

    One of the most beautiful bugs I’ve ever seen was a Velvet Ant (also called Cow Killer). It’s actually a wasp, The one my wife & I saw was about 1.5 inches long & had this lovely red velvet. The females are flightless so that is what we saw. We had no idea what it was & kept our inquisitive dog away from it. Once we got home, we quickly determined what it was.

  92. 92
    jeffreyw says:

    @raven: I think they cut them loose in the winter and then varnish them. Never tried it myself.

  93. 93
    Seanly says:

    @realbtl:

    I found a scorpion in my slippers one morning. This was in SC where several species of scorpions are common (luckily only a couple pose a danger to people).

  94. 94
    Mnemosyne says:

    @realbtl:

    I was driving with my sunroof open one time and a wasp got sucked in and landed on my leg. Fortunately, it was so discombobulated that I was able to pull over and (carefully) brush it off my leg before it decided to sting me.

    A freaky thing that happened once was that a bee got caught between the sliding door and the screen in our living room and all of its buddies swarmed over to protest. We do have Africanized (killer) bees here in California, so that scared the crap out of me.

  95. 95
    Seanly says:

    @Randy P:

    (apologies for multiple posts…)

    When I was around 5 or 6 I stepped on a yellow jacket nest in a pile of leaves at grandma’s house. I got stung 20 times. Don’t remember anything about the attack itself – memory comes back of having my clothes stripped off in her pink bathroom. I spent the next 10 years never wearing shorts or going barefoot (though mom told me I was wearing jeans during the attack & I wouldn’t have tromped through leaves barefoot). Also, while family contends that I must’ve been deep in the leaves, I wouldn’t have gone into the pile as it was at the edge of a hill & I knew it was deep from 30 years of leaves being dumped in one spot. If anything, I was at the edge of pile, not wading through it like family thought.

    There was a concern that I might develop an allergy to bee stings. I didn’t get stung again until a wasp got me in my mid-20’s. Didn’t go into anaphylactic shock so suppose I am all good.

  96. 96
    Chyron HR says:

    @raven:

    This summer I hear the dumbing,
    Brain dead in Ohio.

  97. 97
    Arclite says:

    When I lived in Japan 20 years ago, I went hiking and saw the biggest freaking hornet I had ever seen. I asked my friend about and was told it was the Japanese Sparrow Wasp (Suzumebachi). You don’t know insect fear until you’ve seen giant 2 inch flying hornets a few feet away. Apparently 30-40 people die from encounters with these beasts each year.

    I also used to run into giant Japanese earthworms while hiking. They’re fifteen inches long, as thick as my finger, and metallic blue. Very cool.

    And although I never saw them in the wild, Japanese Rhino beetles (“kabutomushi”) are a favorite among kids as pets. For a small island, Japan sure has some big critters.

  98. 98
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Seanly:

    Didn’t go into anaphylactic shock so suppose I am all good.

    FWIW, I have been stung hundreds of times It was not until my late 40’s that I started having reactions to stings, ie. extreme swelling. The last time my hand was turned into a catchers mitt. One can develop a sensitivity thru repeated exposure.

  99. 99
    Paul in KY says:

    @elmo: Don’t sit on the damned things anymore.

  100. 100
    Paul in KY says:

    @Seanly: Supposed to have a very mean sting.

  101. 101
    Karen in GA says:

    @Arclite:

    Japanese Rhino beetles (“kabutomushi”) are a favorite among kids as pets.

    For the love of fuck, WHY?!

  102. 102
    Trollhattan says:

    Critters! Last night the spousal unit and I bicycled downtown for dinner–offspring at a sleepover and temperature being too hot to cook–then rode home at dusk along the river. Soon encountered a pair of skunks a few feet off our pathway–“Pepe LaPew!”–then, a quarter mile later another solo skunk “Pepe le Trois!” Our ride theme was thus provided. A mile later, it’s rather darker and I think I spot the biggest skunk ever, perhaps ten feet of the trail and down the embankment. But as I get closer the giant skunk breaks apart into three, no, four, wait, five little skunks scattering in all directions, including towards our path–“Pepe le too many to count!” Need to find out if our city has an official mammal, because if we don’t it needs to be the skunk.

    Downsizing, here’s a backyard critter from Sunday.

    There be dragon

  103. 103
    Trollhattan says:

    @Arclite:

    When I lived in Japan 20 years ago, I went hiking and saw the biggest freaking hornet I had ever seen. I asked my friend about and was told it was the Japanese Sparrow Wasp (Suzumebachi). You don’t know insect fear until you’ve seen giant 2 inch flying hornets a few feet away. Apparently 30-40 people die from encounters with these beasts each year.

    Holy crap, I’d rather have grizzlies reintroduced to the Sierra than have these unleashed on us. [Shudder]

  104. 104
    scav says:

    @Karen in GA: Why not? Makes as much sense as a gold fish.

  105. 105
    Chyron HR says:

    @Karen in GA:

    They want to be the very best, like no-one ever was.

  106. 106
    MomSense says:

    Holy wandering teabaggers, Batman! I pulled up behind a car at a stop sign and saw that the license plate said “BENGHAZI”. North Carolina tags. They drove all the way from NC to Maine like that. That is dedication.

  107. 107
    StringOnAStick says:

    I’m busy being hail-paranoid, which means I’m about to head to the local nursery and buy some shade cloth since it will protect against hail and not bake my veggies. When you only have 5 planters and a short season, hail this late can mean you don’t get much or even anything at all. I’ve had gardens reduced to a 2 inch deep pile of green mush here a few times.

    I live on the southern edge of where the floods were in CO last September, and last night we had waves of rain so hard that it woke me up several times. Today looks like our typical scary monsoonal flow stuff, and my hail sense is tingling. 99 degrees yesterday, and maybe 78 today.

  108. 108

    @Karen in GA: Your doggie has a cute!

  109. 109
    lethargytartare says:

    @Tim F.:

    True fact: baby rattlers are the most dangerous kind. They have not learned to regulate their venom delivery yet so they are much more likely to give you everything they have in one bite.

    Tim –

    quick googling makes this look more like a heated herpetological debate than a true fact – could you provide some supporting research?

    Not meaning to call ya out, just genuinely curious.

  110. 110
    raven says:

    “It’s time to impeach; and on behalf of American workers and legal immigrants of all backgrounds, we should vehemently oppose any politician on the left or right who would hesitate in voting for articles of impeachment,” Palin wrote. “The many impeachable offenses of Barack Obama can no longer be ignored. If after all this he’s not impeachable, then no one is.”

  111. 111
    Karen in GA says:

    @scav: Fish don’t have all those… those legs and things.

    @schrodinger’s cat: Thank you! The hard part will be keeping him interesting to other people — I think I finally understand why people insist on showing pictures of their kids to co-workers who don’t care. Look! My dog is adorable! Never mind that he looks like a generic dog to everyone else, and plenty of other people have dogs and everyone knows what dogs look like! My dog is the best and you are better for having seen him!

    Oh, well, Keeps me off the streets.

  112. 112
    lethargytartare says:

    @Paul in KY:

    All cockroaches can fly, I think.

    had this as a pet when my dad was doing his masters in entomology:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M....._cockroach

    no wings at all.

    insects and lizards, this has to be my favorite BJ thread ever

  113. 113
    Karen in GA says:

    @raven: I’m dumber for having read that. Do I look like I have IQ points to spare? Well, okay, you can’t see me, but the answer is no. No, I don’t look like I have IQ points to spare.

  114. 114
    catclub says:

    @raven: I was pissed I was taken to a breitbart link by that, via Political Animal.

  115. 115
    Belafon says:

    @raven: Palin just can’t understand why he didn’t quit half way through his first term.

  116. 116
    catclub says:

    @Karen in GA:

    No, I don’t look like I have IQ points to spare.

    So you are a beautiful smart blonde, who actually does have IQ points to spare?

  117. 117
    scav says:

    @Karen in GA: It’s almost exactly that reaction that would positively attract many kids, especially if expressed by a parent.

  118. 118
    Karen in GA says:

    @catclub: Well, it’s the Internet, so… yes.

    @scav: Every day I see more reasons to be glad I don’t have kids.

  119. 119
    catclub says:

    @lethargytartare: well, a baby mamba will probably kill you and take your child support payments.

  120. 120
    chopper says:

    @raven:

    so, name all these crimes.

    “oh. uh…the impeachable offenses by the president are…numerous in number. first, there are the high crimes. and let’s not forget the misdemeanors, also. uh, in short, it’s a slam-dunk case”

  121. 121
    catclub says:

    @Belafon: That is what she avoided by quitting. That and/or jail time.

  122. 122
    scav says:

    @Karen in GA: They do have legs and things, but many seem to find them amusing and carry photos around. Crickets, Kids, Zucchini, there’s no accounting for taste.

  123. 123
    Amir Khalid says:

    How does Sarah Palin publish op-ed pieces on Breitbart and expect to be taken seriously? She might as well be posting comments on Balloon Juice. (At that, I would take most non-troll commenters here more seriously than I do Palin.)

  124. 124
    Raven says:

    @Amir Khalid: It’s on another news aggregator that people get all pissy about so I just copied and pasted.

  125. 125
  126. 126
    rikyrah says:

    nothing but dust…

    dust, I tell ya.

    ………………………………..

    Published on Jul 4, 2014

    Kayden a two year old that had his right foot and his left amputated in January is learning how to walk with prosthetics!!

    http://youtu.be/nrGsdrW8HlE

  127. 127
    Paul in KY says:

    @lethargytartare: Thanks! I stand corrected.

  128. 128
    Paul in KY says:

    @Amir Khalid: I took Matoko Chan more seriously than I do Palin. She seemed a lot smarter & much less of an asshole than Palin.

  129. 129
    Paul in KY says:

    @rikyrah: God bless him. What a tough little tyke.

  130. 130
    lethargytartare says:

    @Paul in KY: my pleasure, I have fond memories of the weird “pets” my dad brought home.

  131. 131
    Arclite says:

    @Karen in GA:

    Why do boys in the USA catch frogs and lizards? The giant beetles are cool looking, they don’t bite, and if you put two males in a box they’ll battle it out, smashing horns together. Insects have served as the inspiration for countless Japanese superheroes like Ultraman and Kamen Rider.

  132. 132
    Arclite says:

    Goddammit. My reply to Karen about Rhino beetles got put into moderation. What goddamn words cause that to happen, so I can repost? I don’t see “cialis” or “Viagra” anywhere in there.

  133. 133
    Kim Walker says:

    Speaking of bees, I’ve been looking but not finding. On a recent drive up from the States, I stopped at rest areas in Ohio and New York. Although the lawns were full of clover, there were no bees. Here in Aylmer Quebec, on the bike trail – surrounded on both sides for miles with masses of wildflowers – I haven’t seen any bees. Absolutely none.

  134. 134
    keestadoll says:

    Garden warriors, I have a question: I CANNOT get chard to grow at all. By all accounts I have fabulous dirt and the weather is SOP. I water them, but NOT TOO MUCH. I’m hoping for some fabulous advice on this. I make a shredded chard salad that deserves its own ode and I’d love to not have to buy it!

  135. 135
    tybee says:

    @Chyron HR:

    you win the threads for today.

  136. 136
    Douglas Wayne Wieboldt says:

    @Another Holocene Humann: 12 gauge shotgun up nice and close works too. Seems unfair not to give it a chance while you’re battling it with a shovel…

  137. 137
    Douglas Wayne Wieboldt says:

    @Another Holocene Humann: 12 gauge shotgun up nice and close works too. Seems unfair not to give it a chance while you’re battling it with a shovel…

  138. 138
    catperson says:

    @Karen in GA: Yes! The strikethrough humor thing has become a pet peeve, but too small a thing to mention. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to give positive reinforcement to someone doing it right.

  139. 139
    Porlock Junior says:

    @Seanly:
    One morning in Africa I shot an elephant in my pajamas.
    What an elephant was doing in my pajama, I’ll never know.
    –Groucho Marx

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