Under the microscope

A couple of somewhat random shots that had been on deck,  just waiting for an excuse to be posted.  Not really sure what’s under the microscope. However, that is a real and very small bark scorpion who passed on, never reaching its full adult size of about 2 inches.  Scorpions are among the venomous neighbors that live around us in the Arkansas Ouachitas.

LOOKING LARGE — Shot into the eyepiece of a microscope set up as part of a 4-H learning activity.
TINY — Bark scorpion and penny under an 8x loupe.

Weekly Travel Theme: Foliage

Thanks to Alisa for inviting us to join her weekly Travel Theme challenge! This week’s theme is foliage.

LONE COLOR — Autumn’s colored leaf spectacular has been thrown a giant loop by the summer’s drought, followed by late summer rain and bouncing temperatures. The beautiful changes that normally begin in August were just beginning to manifest in the last week of September and in odd ways. Most trees are still wearing their full green canopy, yet this small sassafras was down to just two leaves.
FRIZZ AND CUPS — OK, this is a bit of a cheat, since technically, lichens have no foliage, but thought the texture on this was too good to pass up.


Didn’t see much going on in Suburban Ferndale yesterday, but those days really prompt one to look deeper. Much of Saturday’s photo stroll was spent in the dirt, peering at the world from below.

HELMET FLOWERS — The beauty of these blue helmet flowers contrasts against the white sky.
BUG VASES — These tiny terracotta vases may be last year’s stinkbug egg cases.
TALL AND STRAIGHT — as the trees behind it. This beautifully symmetrical mushroom had a nearly perfectly round orange cap. The fungus was found  on the grounds of the C.A. Vines Arkansas 4-H Center.
DARK SIDE — Of course, death is part of nature too. Finding the remains of this tarantula was particularly sad. We become fond of these fuzzy arachnids when they appear.

In the pink

The late summer, early fall flush of wildflowers included these tiny, dark pink blossoms hanging from slender stalks rising no more than a foot from the ground.

PAIRED — These tiny flowers are hardly noticeable from the road.

Naked ladies in the woods

The foliage around Little Rock is mostly green. It’s as if the drought-stressed trees that managed to retain their leaves are trying to get one last blast of photosynthesis in  before autumn leaf drop. Peering out the office window, this clump of red was like a beacon in an ocean of green. The red turned out to be a clump of lycoris,  known as naked ladies or surprise lilies, since they seem to spring out of the ground with no warning.

REACHING OUT — Naked lady lily reaches out with its anther and filaments.
IN THE WILD — Group of surprise lilies in a green belt near Coleman Creek in the University District of Little Rock.

Along came a spider

Our brown recluse spiders are rarely reclusive. They generally hunt at night, but this one was out at breakfast time feasting on a juicy fall armyworm.  And this fall, the worms are the only thing that seem to be more talked about than the weather. As their name suggests, these moth larvae appear in large numbers and will eat through anything green: crops, pastures, lawns. Insect experts say Hurricane Issac is to blame for helping sweep the moths northward into Arkansas. With recent rains greening up lawns and pastures, the armyworms are eating well, reducing grassy areas  to dirt in just two days.

After reaching a certain size, the armyworms are hard to control with bug spray, but birds, brown recluses and other predators are hungrily doing their part.

BREAKFAST — Brown recluse spider, minus a leg, enjoys a big, fat fall armyworm.

Night skies

Compact digital cameras are a little like haiku. With both, there is a seemingly infinite amount of expression that can be coaxed from a device for creativity whose form is subject to certain dictates. In haiku, there is a narrow path defined for words by number of on. In compact digital photography, the narrow path for light is determined by optics, sensors and software.

That being said, it doesn’t mean we don’t try to push the limits of what these little  electronic wonders can do. Below are attempts at stretching the cameras into capturing the clear and cloudless night skies that appear with autumn’s Canadian cold fronts.* (see disclaimers below)

CITY GLOW — Even 18 miles outside of downtown Little Rock, there’s still the glow of the metropolis.
MILKY WAY — An attempt to capture the Milky Way.

* Disclaimer I: Owner’s manual? What’s that?
* Disclaimer II: These photos do not capture the sheer not-in-vain OH MY GOD! awe of the night sky. I never tire of gazing admiringly at the immensity above.

Weekly photo challenge: Solitary

This week’s concept was maddening. The harder I tried this weekend to find a photo to match “solitary,” the more the world threw twos and threes and other multiples into focus. The first and fourth images are a bit redundant, variations on a theme taken four months apart.  Couldn’t choose between the two.

Happy autumn for those in the northern hemisphere and happy spring to those south of the equator!

ONE AMONG MANY — Autumn begins to show its color amid the previous year’s windfall.
UP — Insect climbs toward the noontime sun on a car antenna. He may find it’s lonely at the top.
ALONE FOR NOW — The slender crescent moon seems to have the sky to itself after the sun disappears.
BLACK FEATHER — Photographed in May.

This week’s mother page for the Weekly Photo Challenge:

Sandy star: http://thebestyearsare.wordpress.com/2012/09/23/weekly-photo-challenge-solitary/

Peaceful reflection: http://thedizons.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/weekly-photo-challenge-solitary/

Leaf: http://berkshireviews.wordpress.com/2012/09/23/weekly-photo-challenge-solitary/

Water’s edge: http://huffygirl.wordpress.com/2012/09/23/weekly-photo-challenge-solitary/

Jack o’ lantern: http://luddyslens.wordpress.com/2012/09/23/weekly-photo-challenge-solitary/

Solitary piece of history: http://hamburgundmeehr.wordpress.com/2012/09/23/weekly-photo-challenge-solitary/

The breakaway shopping trolley and other shots: http://upwoods.wordpress.com/2012/09/23/weekly-photo-challenge-solitary-were-born-alone-we-die-alone/

Souls alone: http://windagainstcurrent.com/2012/09/22/weekly-photo-challenge-solitary-take-two/

Solace and sax: http://ablogdog.wordpress.com/2012/09/23/5704/