Friday, September 30, 2011

Hornworm Hosts its Destruction

While admiring some ground cherries outside my front door, I noticed a number of leaves had been stripped off. Not grazed on by the deer that frequent the area, more like eaten by caterpillars. After a brief search I spotted a hornworm munching away. I didn't bother killing the hornworm because, after all, the ground cherries are weeds growing amongst the black-eyed susans, and it's less work for me if they take care of the weeds.

I looked again a few days later, and saw that the hornworm had sprouted numerous white appendages. These are the cocoons of pupating braconid wasps. Braconid wasps are parasitoids that inject their eggs beneath the skin of the host (hornworms are favored by the braconid wasp Contesia congregatus). After feeding on the convenient meal surrounding them, the wasp larvae emerge and spin their coccons, attached to the body of the unfortunate hornworm. In a few days, adult wasps emerge from their cocoons, leaving a dead caterpillar.

I later spotted a second hornworm, which suffered the same fate as the first.

Labels: ,

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The First One Now Will Later Be Last

Just a mere couple of months ago, the world as we know it was shocked when Michelle Bachmann came in first in the Ames, Iowa straw poll, beating out suave businessman Mitt Romney, and way ahead of Jon "Who?" Huntsman. Here was a candidate Republicans could identify with.

How times change. In yesterday's Florida straw poll, Bachmann finished dead last (1.5%)--behind even Huntsman (2.3%), and far, far behind Pizza Guy Herman Munster Cain (37%). Bachmann's former replacement as Favorite Whacko, Rick "It-Takes-More-Than-$5,000-To-Buy-Me" Perry, finished at 15.4%, just nudging out Romney (with 14.0%).

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I'll Take a bunch of These and a lot of Those, But I Don't Want to Pay For Them

Several of the contestants appearing at tonight's Republican "debate," beginning with Michelle Bachmann, expressed their desire to build a Great Wall at the border with Mexico, complete with surveillance and weaponry. Funny thing is, these same actors had just been bragging about how much they would reduce government spending. Indeed, Bachmann suggested that she favors a 0 percent income tax rate. So how come nobody bothered to ask how such a project would be paid for?


Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Earth Science Week

Earth Science Week will be celebrated October 9 - 15. Malls and car dealerships all over the country will not be having any special sales in recognition of this event, but it is an opportunity for the media and, especially, teachers, to help publicize the importance of understanding how the Earth works. Helpful materials and additional information can be found here

Earth Science Week presents a chance to learn more about many things in the news lately that affect our lives: the earthquake that shook Virginia in August--how does it compare to previous quakes in the area, and quakes elsewhere; How much do volcanoes affect global warming in comparison with anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases; What impact might additional drilling for oil in America have on the world demand and domestic gasoline prices? 

Labels: ,

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Rick Perry's Economics Class

At last night's Republican presidential candidates' debate, when asked to respond to former Vice President Dick Cheney's criticism of comments he had made about Social Security being a Ponzi scheme, Rick Perry had this to say:
We're about fixing things. You can either have reasons or you can have results. And the American people expect us to put results in place.
WTF? We don't need no stinking reasons? An intelligent person might want to learn the reasons that brought about a given condition, and have a good set of reasons for taking whatever action he takes to bring about the desired results. Sounds like maybe Perry has not only handed over authority in Texas to God, but, if elected president, will abdicate the White House as well.

Labels: , ,