Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Monarch Butterfly Couple

The Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is a milkweed butterfly (subfamily Danainae) in the family Nymphalidae. It is perhaps the best known of all North American butterflies. Since the 19th century, it has been found in New Zealand, and in Australia since 1871, where it is called the wanderer. It is resident in the Canary Islands, the Azores, and Madeira, and is found as an occasional migrant in Western Europe and a rare migrant in the United Kingdom. Its wings feature an easily recognizable orange and black pattern, with a wingspan of 8.9–10.2 cm (3½–4 in). (The viceroy butterfly is similar in color and pattern, but is markedly smaller, and has an extra black stripe across the hind wing.) Female monarchs have darker veins on their wings, and the males have a spot called the androconium in the center of each hind wing. Males are also slightly larger than female monarchs.

The monarch is famous for its southward late summer/autumn migration from the United States and southern Canada to Mexico and coastal California, and northward return in spring, which occurs over the lifespans of three to four generations of the butterfly. The migration route was fully determined by Canadian entomologists Fred and Norah Urquhart after a 38-year search, aided by naturalists Kenneth C. Brugger and Catalina Trail who solved the final piece of the puzzle by identifying the butterflies' overwintering sites in Mexico. The discovery has been called the "entomological discovery of the 20th century". An IMAX film, Flight of the Butterflies, tells the story of the long search by the Urquharts, Brugger and Trail to unlock the secret of the butterflies' migration.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cleome Hassleriana - Spider Flower

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Cleome hassleriana, commonly known as spider flower or spider plant, is a species of flowering plant in the genus Cleome of the family Cleomaceae, native to southern South America in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and southeast Brazil. It is an annual growing to a height of 150 cm (60 in), with spirally arranged leaves. The leaves are palmately compound, with five or seven leaflets, the leaflets up to 12 cm (5 in) long and 4 cm (2 in) broad and the leaf petiole up to 15 cm (6 in) long. The flowers are purple, pink, or white, with four petals and six long stamens. The fruit is a capsule up to 15 cm long and 3 mm (0.1 in) broad, containing several seeds. Flowering lasts from late spring to early fall.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Bumblebee Hard At Work

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A botanical garden (or botanic garden) is a well-tended area displaying a wide range of plants labelled with their botanical names. It may contain specialist plant collections such as cacti and succulent plants, herb gardens, plants from particular parts of the world, and so on; there may be greenhouses, shade houses, again with special collections such as tropical plants, alpine plants, or other exotic plants. Visitor services at a botanical garden might include tours, educational displays, art exhibitions, book rooms, open-air theatrical and musical performances, and other entertainment.

Hummingbird Moth Coming In For Landing

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Hemaris is a genus of sphinx moths, consisting of about 17 species native to the Holarctic. Four species occur in North and South America and three are found in Europe. Their main host plants are herbs and shrubs of the teasel and honeysuckle families. Moths in genus Hemaris are known collectively as Clearwing Moths or Hummingbird Moths in the US and Bee Hawk-Moths in Britain.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Bee In Flight

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Bees are flying insects closely related to wasps and ants, and are known for their role in pollination and for producing honey and beeswax. Bees are a monophyletic lineage within the super family Apoidea, presently classified by the unranked taxon name Anthophila. There are nearly 20,000 known species of bees in seven to nine recognized families, though many are undescribed and the actual number is probably higher. They are found on every continent except Antarctica, in every habitat on the planet that contains insect-pollinated flowering plants.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Japanese Macaque Monkey

The Japanese macaque (/məˈkɑːk/; Macaca fuscata), is a terrestrial Old World monkey species native to Japan. It is also sometimes known as the snow monkey because it lives in areas where snow covers the ground for months each year — no primate, with the exception of humans, is more northern-living, nor lives in a colder climate. Individuals have brown-grey fur, red faces, and short tails. There are two subspecies.

In Japan, the species is known as Nihonzaru (Nihon "Japan" + saru "monkey") to distinguish it from other primates, but the Japanese macaque is very familiar in Japan, so when Japanese people simply say saru, they usually have in mind the Japanese macaque.

Lilium (members of which are true lilies) is a genus of herbaceous flowering plants growing from bulbs, all with large prominent flowers. Lilies are a group of flowering plants which are important in culture and literature in much of the world. Most species are native to the temperate northern hemisphere, though their range extends into the northern subtropics. Many other plants have "lily" in their common name but are not related to true lilies.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Along Came A Spider

Spiders are chelicerates and therefore arthropods. As arthropods they have: segmented bodies with jointed limbs, all covered in a cuticle made of chitin and proteins; heads that are composed of several segments that fuse during the development of the embryo. Being chelicerates, their bodies consist of two tagmata, sets of segments that serve similar functions: the foremost one, called the cephalothorax or prosoma, is a complete fusion of the segments that in an insect would form two separate tagmata, the head and thorax; the rear tagma is called the abdomen or opisthosoma. In spiders the cephalothorax and abdomen are connected by a small cylindrical section, the pedicel. The pattern of segment fusion that forms chelicerates' heads is unique among arthropods, and what would normally be the first head segment disappears at an early stage of development, so that chelicerates lack the antennae typical of most arthropods. In fact chelicerates' only appendages ahead of the mouth are a pair of chelicerae, and they lack anything that would function directly as "jaws". The first appendages behind the mouth are called pedipalps, and serve different functions within different groups of chelicerates