Black swallowtail with osmeterium extended, Austin, Texas, 22 May 2010
Here is my last photo of a caterpillar for the near term (near term being tomorrow morning). But this is worth studying. The orange forked tongue-like organ is the osmeterium. This is a fleshy organ found in the caterpillars of the swallowtail butterflies. The osmeterium is only extended when the caterpillar is alarmed. When extended the organ emits smelly compounds believed to be pheromones, and the makeup of those pheromones differs from species to species. I cannot describe the smell; like chicken?
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Black swallowtail on parsley
My yard is a feeding frenzy, an orgy of young and old, big and small, eating their ways toward winter. As I walk along my flower beds I hear the constant crunch of caterpillars, ants, pill bugs, and grubs making short work of my crops. The bird feeders are crowded with parents cramming the gaping mouths of young with masticated seeds. Never mind that the young downy is larger than the adult; instinct always wins out over common sense.
Downy woodpecker (adult male)
John Quigley, Secretary of DCNR, speaking at PEC Marcellus Shale conference
Yesterday I spoke at the Marcellus Shale conference luncheon at Duquesne in Pittsburgh. The conference is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, and is considering all of the impacts of the Marcellus Shale play here in the east. Marcellus may be one of the largest natural gas reservoirs discovered in the U.S., and there is tremendous interest in bringing that gas to market. Given Pennsylvania’s history with extractive industries, though, the state is being cautious in how it proceeds. I spoke on the conservation history of Pennsylvania, a topic that I title the Cradle of Conservation. I suspect that I will eventually write a book on the subject. My PowerPoint has now been uploaded to the cloud, and is available here
British Petroleum blowout in Gulf of Mexico
The BP blowout in the Gulf is more than a passing interest. I live within five blocks of the Gulf Coast, in Galveston. One wind shift and we are knee deep in black ooze.
This is not new for us on the upper coast. In 2005 the BP refinery in Texas Coast exploded, killing 15 workers. BP received a record $53 million fine for safety violations. BP agreed that costs were a major factor affecting safety measures at the plant.
AP has reported that prior to this most recent event,