Skip to main content

Chinese Mantis, on catnip

A chinese mantis, Tenodera aridifolia sinensis, commands a lofty lookout atop a spikelet of catnip, Nepeta cataria. Neither plant nor beast is native here, but both have their uses. These mantids can attain an almost frightening size, and the field that I found myself in last night was full of them.

I'm not a huge fan of nonnative mantids, which probably haven't helped our native insect fauna. Some people think that they've detrimentally impacted populations of native mantids, such as the beautiful Carolina mantis, Stagmomantis carolina (CLICK HERE). On the upside, chinese mantids can serve as a spark to trigger interest in insects, as people are naturally fascinated by the huge alien-looking bruisers.

Catnip, of course, has plenty of fans too. Most of them tend to have four legs and meow. This intoxicating mint is a fairly common weed, although more along the lines of an occasionally encountered curiosity rather than a full-blown invasive, at least in these parts. If you've got felines, grab a few stems of wild-growing catnip if you find some. Your cats will go whack over the stuff.


jaredmizanin said…
Cool stuff! I found a mint a week or so back that I thought might be catnip, but after conferring with a naturalist it turned out to be hairy wood-mint. Still looking to try out catnip with our felines should I ever find some :)

Popular posts from this blog

The Pinching Beetle, a rather brutish looking bug

The world is awash in beetles, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Few of them can match the intimidation factor of a Pinching Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, though. Those formidable looking mandibles look like they could slice off a finger.

Today was one of those coolly diverse days. I started off down in Fayette County, visiting the farm of a friend. He has restored about 25 acres of wetlands, and the response by the animal community has been nothing short of phenomenal. Blizzards of dragonflies of many species, amphibians galore, and nesting Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, and Sora. Among MANY other things. And all in a short two years. Add water and they will come.

Then, working my way home, I ducked into a Madison County cemetery that has a thriving population of Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels, and shot images of our native prairie dog. Then, I stopped at a spot along Little Darby Creek, waded on in, and procured some pretty nice shots of various stream bluets and dancers. …

Calliope Hummingbird in central Ohio!

A hatch-year male Calliope Hummingbird strikes a pose. Small but tough, the hummingbird was feeding actively yesterday in 39 F temperatures. It frequents feeders and gardens at a home in Delaware County, Ohio, about a half-hour north of Columbus.

Fortunately, the wayward hummer appeared at the home of Tania and Corey Perry. Tania is a birder, and knew right away that the hummingbird was something special. For a while, the identification was up in the air, which isn't surprising. The Calliope Hummingbird used to be placed in its own genus, Stellula, but has recently been submerged into the genus Selasphorus, which includes Allen's, Broad-tailed, and Rufous hummingbirds. The latter two, especially, are quite similar to the Calliope in subadult plumage. Rufous is the default "vagrant" hummingbird here, with dozens of records and birds turning up annually. There is but one Ohio record of Allen's Hummingbird, from late fall/early winter 2009. Ditto the Calliope Hummi…

Snowy owl photography tactics - and things NOT to do

A gorgeous juvenile female snowy owl briefly catches your narrator with its piercing gaze. It's doing its Linda Blair/Exorcist trick - twisting its head 180 degrees to look straight behind. Owls have 14 neck vertebrae - double our number - which allows them such flexibility.

These visitors from the high arctic have irrupted big time into Ohio and adjacent regions, with new birds coming to light nearly every day. Probably 80 or so have thus far been reported in the state, and some of them have stuck around favored spots and become local celebrities.

I went to visit one of these birds this morning - the animal above, which was found last Friday by Doug Overacker and Julie Karlson at C.J. Brown Reservoir near Springfield. In the four days since its discovery, many people have visited as is nearly always the case when one of these white wonders appears near a large population center or is otherwise very accessible.

And as is always the case, people want to photograph the owls. And th…