Category Archives: plants

Readers’ wildlife photographs

First, regular Stephen Barnard is back with a set of three pictures he calls “the usual suspects”: A drake Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos): A Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis): And something a little different: I’ve been seeing a male American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) frequently. I sent photos. This is the first female I’ve seen. To show the sexual […]

The bizarre naked man orchid

Let’s finish the week not with a cat, but a plant. This one, the “naked orchid” or “hanging naked man orchid,” is a real species, Orchis italica. There’s a reason they aren’t called the “naked hanging woman orchid”: Don’t ask me the adaptive significance, if any, of this shape. Maybe there’s some insect that has […]

Readers’ wildlife photos

We’ll begin with another fall-themed photo: a picture of a solitary tree in Iowa taken by reader Randy Schenck. The Midwest doesn’t get the spectacular fall colors of Vermont or New Hampshire, but they’re often lovely. Do readers in other parts of the world get such spectacular fall displays in deciduous forest? Reader Damon Williford […]

Readers’ wildlife photos

Today we have a Sparrow Parade from Mike McDowell from Madison, Wisconson, who has previously submitted photos of tiger beetles and orthopterans. Today he proves himself a superb photographer of birds. His note: Your readers might enjoy the wonderful diversity of North American migratory sparrows. All were photographed this fall in southern Wisconsin. Lincoln’s Sparrow, […]

Readers’ wildlife photos

Here’s mine, taken with an iPhone on the way to work (my tummy is better): And, just a few minutes ago, reader Gregory James sent a fall photo from yesterday: And reader Dom sent both insect and historic landscapes: On Sunday [a week from yesterday], cloudless, windless & warm, I went up on the South Downs, […]

News flash: genetic engineering may save the American chestnut tree

The American Chestnut, Castanea dentata, was once a proud denizen of eastern U.S. deciduous forests, and prized for its wood. Then, in the early 1900s, the fungus “chestnut blight,” Cryphonectria parasitica, was introduced to the U.S. from Japanese nursery stock. Within a few decades, it wiped out around 4 billion chestnut trees.  Since the fungus is airborne, a few adult trees […]

Readers’ wildlife photos

I’ll start with one of my own: a photo I snapped with my iPhone camera on the way home yesterday. It is, of course, Ginkgo biloba, a “living fossil” whose leaves turn an attractive bright yellow in fall.  My late colleague Monte Lloyd used to tell me that a given tree would shed all its […]

Readers’ wildlife photographs

We have a new contributor (I love new contributors!): Benjamin Taylor, who sent in a huge pile of photos (I’ll dole them out over time) with the note: Last month I went on a camping trip around southern Africa (Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia) and took quite a few photographs. Sociable weaver (Philetairus socius) nest: […]

Readers’ wildlife photos

We have contributions from a new reader, Keith, whose notes are indented. Be sure to send me your GOOD wildlife photos, as the tank truly is running on low. Here are photos of two of my favorite flowers: a Jackson Perkinks Rose called “Brass Band” in my front garden, and a day lily with bumblebee. Attached you will […]

A new and bizarre form of mimicry: plant seeds mimic shape and smell of animal feces to facilitate dispersal by dung beetles

Mimicry is a recurring subject on this site, mainly because I’m fascinated by the precision with which natural selection can mold animals and plants to look like things they’re not. We’ve also seen examples of plants mimicking animals before, as in the orchids that mimic bees and wasps, fooling randy insect males into trying to copulate […]


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