Sunday, November 9, 2014

Fuzzy Wuzzy Was A...

...Hickory horned devil? Indeed he was.

Citheronia regalis  (regal indeed) or Royal Walnut moth

Speaking of horned insects (referring to the last blog... posted minutes ago because I'm feeling moderately motivated and making up for lost time...) here is a sweet and friendly giant moth.

Pay no attention to the fact that my palm is enormous and super shiny, non-calloused palms that haven't seen a weight bar in a while... erm. .(shifty eyes..) Just look at the moth.

Oh, but wait... because you need to know that I just learned something and you need to know this too. How I made it to nearly 40 without knowing this is truly baffling BUT... apparently caterpillars turn into goo inside their chrysalises until they regenerate into their final life stage be it moth or butterfly. For real. Again, I am not trying to fool anyone into thinking I am an entomologist or really know what I'm talking about.. ever.

Back to moth pictures..

All moth photos are mine.

Horned Devil by Cozytailmom on deviantART

See how fuzzy? Nuts! I love him! .. or her..

Another full body shot...

The hickory horned larvae is even crazier looking than its moth:
photo credit: Chris Hibbard


Nearly gone already? Seems like autumn just got here. Ah well.. I've been too busy enjoying and living life to keep up with my blogs.
So, here are pics of adorable bugs.

It was a miserable, cold wet day when I took the pic of this poor guy. Probably a tussock caterpillar but it was too wet to identify.

A Miserable Weekend by Cozytailmom on deviantART

This guy/gal is autumn (that's a metaphor..) at my doorbell.

Blends with Autumn by Cozytailmom on deviantART

Here's a cute guy: Tobacco Hornworm Manduca sexta

Tobacco Horned Worm by Cozytailmom on deviantART

..and his friend

Tobacco Horned Worm II by Cozytailmom on deviantART

Thursday, August 14, 2014

This Chilly Air is Not Autumn... dern..

Fall means cliche fresh starts, pumpkins, lighting of candles, a weird renewed interest in baking and Fall means all the spiders are moving into our basement. Hope this lovely lady stays outside.
She is currently guarding our front door.

Don't Arrive Unannounced by Cozytailmom on deviantART

The black widow bites are rarely fatal despite what many think. They are also super non-aggresive. I once had one on my watering can and had been sprinkling the garden for at least ten minutes before I noticed that it was running for its life, to opposite sides of the can, to get away from me. I'm assuming it had been hiding out in the can while it was being stored in the garage. 

I'm comforted when I remember that my deep dark woods home* is surrounded by venomous creatures and an impenetrable thicket of thorny blackberry bushes. Not even a ghost can sneak up unannounced without snagging his sheet.. (you know.. his ghost sheet... woooOOOoooo).  I'm a little excited about October. Can you tell?

*A door-to-door salesman just stopped by and tried to sell me on solar panels for my house. fail

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Beauty in Death

“What we call ‘death,’ is but the painful metamorphosis.”  
 Edgar Allan Poe - Mesmeric Revelation

While continuing to recognize National Moth Week, I thought I would take my revelry in a different direction and celebrate the beauty in their death. After all, thanks to their affinity for bird and bat attracting porch lights and limiting biology, many moths have rather short lifespans. However, it's comforting to know we can still appreciate their beauty, long after their little moth souls have left their bodies.

This lovely luna most likely departed this world in violent manner. I explained to a friend that the tragedy lies in the short time we get to spend with these unique creatures due to their natural short life span, about 7 days. She disagreed and felt the saddest thing of all for this sweetie is its lack of mouth. How awful to live for seven days without a belleh-full!

The scattered limbs and missing wings do not detract from the haunting beauty of this moth.

I suspect this Polyphemus moth was the very one playing peek-a-boo with me in the morning. Alas… he should have flown for the safety of the woods like I suggested. Now, he’s just a lovely remain.

Last Flight of Polyphemus by Cozytailmom on deviantART

In life? Peek-a-boo!

“…for Mercutio’s soul
Is but a little way above our heads,
Staying for thine to keep him company.
Either thou or I, or both, must go with him.” 
Shakespeare - Romeo and Juliet

Every picture I took of this luminescent moth had an aura. I suspect, like Mercutio, this white ermine's soul hovered a bit before leaving us. 

Finally, a bleak reminder that death comes to even the prettiest among us. Obviously he's not a moth, but RIP swallowtail.

"Only the perishable can be beautiful..." -Wallace Stevens

All photos by me

Monday, July 21, 2014

Big Beetle Blog

I know it’s Moth Week, but I did promise a big beetle blog, so here you go!

I went out at 7 a.m. or so to check out the moth scene on the front porch, a site of many peculiar and fascinating insect sightings.
I can typically spot anything regardless of its clever camouflage, but miraculously I did not notice the gargantuan beetle right away which seems silly looking at it in this picture. It’s like a boil on the side of the house.

I took about 25,000 pictures, at least, and was impressed because I had no idea we grew them so big in these parts. I had to research the species and suspected that I had finally found an elusive undocumented species that I could name after one of my children.
Turns out, a lot of people out there on the web have come across them and, like me, thought they found somebody's lost exotic pet from Madagascar. I believe it is a variety of native rhinoceros beetle, female. Although I did minor in Biology at VT, I’m not actually an entomologist. Shocker! Please kindly let me know if I’m wrong. 

She hung around for a couple of days. I was hoping she would attract a mate because the males are pretty cool with their rhino horns, you know… Google them.

How about those smart photo captions above, eh...? Not among my more creative moments.

For scale, here is my sweet, cooperative son posing next to the beetle. I got him out of bed to see it because I’m that kind of mom, and I was afraid it would be eaten or buzzzzz off… (hehe)

I also made a video of my sweet, less than cooperative daughter meeting the beetle. It’s safe to say she does not share my enthusiasm for adorable bugs. Ha!

All and all, I took the scarab-like insect's appearance as a sign that we most definitely needed to check out the Tutankhamun replica exhibit at the Science Museum of Western VA and eat at Bayou Snowballs that very day!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Hey! National Moth Week is Coming Up

What do you mean you never heard of it? It's next week! The project is considered a "citizen science project" so go check out their website here and help out, if you can. 

To celebrate, I'll post some of my recent moth shots for which we can thank the porch light!

First, one of my favorites, the lovely rose moth, (Dryocampa rubicunda).
Rose Moth by Cozytailmom on deviantART

Crazy green owlet on a screen (Leuconycta)

Green Owlet on the Green Screen by Cozytailmom on deviantART

Handsome banded tussock (Halysidota tessellaris)

Banded Tussock at the Front Door by Cozytailmom on deviantART

Another view of this sharp dressed moth that I was unable to add to the deviant page for some bizarre reason. Humph

Have I got more? Heck yes!

How do you like this giant leopard moth? (
Hypercompe scribonia)

Giant Leopard Moth by Cozytailmom on deviantART

...and lastly ( for now.. ) one of my favorites of the summer so far, the clymene moth (Haploa clymene).

Clymene Moth by Cozytailmom on deviantART

I'll certainly post more moths in the next week, but first you can expect a CRAZY beetle blog. I mean, a knock your socks off and don't step on THAT thing kinda post.

All photos by me.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Bonjour mon cher

I have had a difficult time classifying this moth, but I do know that it speaks in a cheesy fake french accent. How can it not? Check out the sultry eyes and curly mustache. I love this guy, bad pick-up lines and all!

Sultry Eyed Mustache Moth by Cozytailmom on deviantART

Monday, June 30, 2014

Bumblebee Charity Scarf

Feelin' the need to do some good, and add more insect themed accessories to your wardrobe? Follow this link to see/purchase beautiful scarves created by freelance textile designer, Kate Palmer, at Sparrows Green.
The scarf that caught my attention, obviously, is the one retweeted on Twitter below. Portions, or all, of the proceeds for this scarf go to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. (No specification on the amount donated per scarf...but some of it, at least.)

Follow this link to order at Sparrows Green Once I start getting paychecks again (despite what many think, teachers don’t get paid over the summer) I might have to celebrate the end of my temporary poverty by ordering one for myself. All of the scarves at Sparrows Green are beautiful and unique. Keep shipping costs in mind. The designer is in London.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Celebrate BIG! It's National Insect Week

Hey there!
It’s National Insect Week. Time to celebrate big time, and by that I mean it's time to post pictures of some of the larger than usual bugs I’ve spotted lately. I’m not sure if it was our super cold winter, the extra moist spring, the bizarre acorn shortage or what, but we are growing them big in Virginia this year. I have seen some massive centipedes, silverfish and ants. I’m talkin’ quarter-sized ants. For real…

I’ll start with everyone’s favorite, dragonflies. There is one that’s been buzzing around our backyard and it’s humungous. It might be a giant darner (anax walsinghami). Seriously, this dragonfly is larger than a hummingbird but smaller than a cardinal. Unfortunately, it won’t hold still for a photo. Maybe I could try to catch a quick video at some point.   
In the meantime, you’ll have to settle with another big one who spent the night in my tent while I camped along the Shenandoah this past weekend.
Ignore my chipped nails. Who gets a manicure before a weekend of river activities? Sheesh

Also, check out what I found inside the tent, a molted dragonfly nymph casing. I must say, it was not as adorable as the final product. I have concluded that my tent was the venue for its metamorphosis.

Another big insect I captured on camera recently was this teacup saucer sized wolf spider. This is not an unusual size for a wolf, but I usually don’t see them this big until early fall. I hope to see this one again once it’s fattened up.

So, to return to the whole National Insect Week party, check out the website for the National Insect Week sponsored by the Royal Entomological Society. I suppose this is national for the UK and not necessarily the US. But, you know what? I have found that some the best entomology sites/organizations exist in the UK. They love their bugs! The site is full of fun facts, events, contests and learning resources for teachers. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Lunas Return

Being a school teacher and sponsor of the senior class means I am busy, busy, busy in the early spring finalizing the school year and preparing for graduation. Then, I need a week or so after graduation to decompress and almost literally think about nothing. Seriously, I spend hours playing Candy Crush until the stress dreams stop.

I was enjoying Spring for being spring; however, and taking a lot of pictures.
I'll start with the collection of luna moth (actias luna) visitors. They seem to start showing up near the end of May and stay through mid-June.
Here are some pics I caught with my Nikon N50 zoom lens and others with my phone.

Nikon shot. This is one of the first times I have seen the lunas in the wild and not clinging to the side of my house.

Another Nikon shot. It was cool to see the moth sort of using its camouflage. I can see how it might fool some animals... It definitely looks lovely enough to attract a mate.

Here are a couple of others that haven't been tweeted yet:
These are Samsung 5 shots:
On the porch rail this time...

Luna on a Deck Rail by Cozytailmom on deviantART

And their favorite spot...

Luna on Bricks IV by Cozytailmom on deviantART

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

It's like watching a pot and wanting it to boil

Wanting spring and summer so bad... Posting pics from last summer won't get them here sooner, but I can live vicariously through the shots. Right?

Below is a pic of an Easter Tiger Swallowtail, Papilio glaucus. Pretty common around here.. Virginia's state insect, in fact.
It's feasting on a butterfly bush which planted itself from seed. Every bush I've purposely tried to plant has failed, but this one grows to over seven feet high each summer. sigh...

You can also see the photo here...

July 2013 020 by Cozytailmom on deviantART

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Too Soon?

A toast... to spring!  Yeeaahh! 
- Can't find any other info about this artist, Kristine Nora, except a link to her Twitter page. Follow her and maybe she'll announce work for sale. Or maybe this is her only painting and it happens to be awesome. I don't know...

Update: 09-11-14
I have since received an update from Kristine Nora. She explained that she is an artist who works with bees and the twitter pic is of a cover of an old New Yorker magazine. I still love it. Follow her on Instagram at KritineNora_ to see her photography and art. She has some great bee and honey shots.

I only took about 25,000 pictures of the first crocus to emerge in this 60 degree weather. Woot!
Hmmm Always issues with the cropping and that durn Instagram. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Charming Bee Charms

Several years ago I became aware of this creative and talented artist, Amanda Spayd, through a soap forum we both frequented. I have enjoyed watching her career blossom from a corporate graphic artist to a successful indie toy maker. I girl-crush her because I wish I had a teensy bit of her talent.

Again... as soon as I'm rolling in wealth, I plan to purchase some of her art. In the meantime, I might be able to shake out the couch cushions for enough to purchase one of her enchanting bee charms which will be available soon.

Check out her website to view some of her truly unique masterpieces and follow her on Twitter so you'll know when she has a sale running. She keeps nothing in stock.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Bee Whimsical

I love this artist, Roz. Her work features everything I love: bees, owls, chickens, simple living, etc...
As I always say... "as soon as I have some money..." sigh

Enjoy! The above painting has been sold, but she does commissioned work, so maybe she would do something similar on request.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

No Really, It's Real. Who Knew? Oh... Maybe Everyone

I often wonder how I can be nearly 40 and unaware of things that everyone else seems to have known about for ages. Of course I've seen the cover of "The Silence of the Lambs." I've seen the creepy skull-backed moth across Clarice's mouth, but I had no idea the moth was real.
In case there is anyone else out there as clueless as myself, it's called a death's-head hawk-moth.


The death's-head hawk-moth is a rare species whose primary habitat is southern Europe and Asia. Many feel its arrival is the harbinger of bad news or even death. Eep!

I was made aware of them after seeing this tweet by Tristan Reid. I loved the look of the caterpillar and that ridiculous head. I assumed the caterpillar earned the name because it used its spiky bulbous head for combat or something. Ha! So, I had to research 'cause I can't just stay stupid.

Apparently the photographer of the above tweet is Igor Siwanowicz.

Here is an image of the adult moth. Wow!

Cause I'm an English teacher:
"Butterfly Conservation." Meet The Death's-head Hawk-moth. Butterfly Conservation: Company, 10 Oct. 2013. Web. 29 Jan. 2014.
"Death's-head Hawkmoth." Wikimedia Foundation, 3 Dec. 2013. Web. 29 Jan. 2014.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Paper Butterflies

I just love this delicate photograph. The butterfly looks like an antique pressed flower.

Visit the artist's Etsy page to see the rest of her photography.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

You Need to Know that This Exists

A panda ant! Euspinolia militaris

Apparently the panda ant is not an ant at all but a type of wasp with a nasty sting. Still, you can love from a distance.

Photo by: Dr Sarah Jensen

Follow this link for more photos and some extra info:
This Panda Ant Will BAMBOOzle You With Its True Identity

'Cause I'm an English teacher:
B, Carly. "This Panda Ant Will BAMBOOzle You With Its True Identity." The Featured Creature. Disqus, 4 Sept. 2013. Web. 23 Jan. 2014.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Love This Artist. ..and you will too.

If you've read any of my blogs, you'll know that I post most of my photos to a Deviant Art account. Based on other art I have previously "Favorited," I was referred to the super talented Nadav Bagin.
First, I was drawn to his Wonderland series which consists of sweet insect art set in magical habitats, but then I found his landscape and digital art to be every bit as fantastic and mesmerizing. Here is a short video of him discussing his art.

Go there! Look at it all. It's beautiful.

Tickle Me by AimishBoy on deviantART

You Can Appreciate a Tidy Girl the very least.

Sure, many find black widows to be less than adorable, but after many, many encounters with them in the wild, and in my garage, I have found them to be quite intriguing. They avoid human contact as much as they reasonable can. I could tell you many tales of the widows that run from me while I try to get close enough for a clear photo.

Apparently, they are also good for reducing the cicada population. These pics were taken last summer during our cicada mini-plague.


A Widow Prepares Her Lonely Supper by Cozytailmom on deviantART

A Tidy Girl by Cozytailmom on deviantART

Photos by Christie Acker. Prints available on Deviant Art.

Tummy Time

Definitely not my best shot, but it was taken through the filthy storm door. I couldn't risk opening it and scaring the luna away.
Just look at that fuzzy tummy.

actias luna

Photo by Christie Acker. Print available at Deviant Art.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Flightless Moon

Above was my attempt to create a deep, meaningful title.

My home is surrounded by walnut and hickory trees, a favorite food of the luna moth, and my porch light is a beacon. From early spring to mid-summer I can find lunas alive and clinging to my secluded brick house which is nestled against a mountain in a densely wooded lot.

I rarely find a living moth that is completely intact. Most have tears in their wings or are missing entire portions.  Often, I find only pieces of them if I don't go out and look until the afternoon.
I saw this wing on the porch and the other in the mulch by a batch of blue hostas. I'm guessing something with much larger wings ate the fuzzy center.

Still there is something poetic about that single wing. It's still beautiful.

Lovely Remains by Cozytailmom on deviantART

Photo by Christie Acker. Print available on Deviant Art.

Never Put Anything Inedible on a Plate

Soon it will be spring. I'll host a garden party!

Maybe I'll serve these... but probably not on cupcakes.

Here is a link directly to the Artfire site where you can purchase the toppers if you like.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I Don't Discriminate Against Mollusks

Snails have gooey reputations and like insects they are cute, small, and plentiful.

I promise a cute surprise awaits you at the click of this link. So click it, already.

Crud! I wish I could post Pinterest pins on my blog. I'm sure there is a way, but I haven't figured it out yet.
I'm also not happy with the work around of embedding Twitter posts without images. Boo to me for not knowing stuff!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Tolype , As Fun to Say As It Is To Photograph

Toe lip ee

This handsome harry guy was photographed chillin' on my brick house. The house (mostly the porch light) is really quite a moth magnet. It is also, subsequently, a bat and blue jay magnet.
Admire this tolype velleda.

Photo by Christie Acker. Print available on Deviant Art.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

It's Not My Birthday

...but if you would like to give me a gift, I like the green one. Oh, who am I kidding? I like ALL of them! Muahahahahahaaaaaaaa

Seriously though, these are lovely.

Who says I'm hard to buy for? Easy Peasy.

Hmmm having some technical difficulties and it's way past my bedtime. I'll try to get this fixed tomorrow. In the meantime, follow this link to Sihaya Designs on Etsy.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Fascinated by the Fascinators

I saw this pic on Facebook this morning and decided to do whatever I can to eradicate arachnophobia and add a bit of spidery cheer to the world. Enjoy!

Admire these pics of jumping spiders (salticidae) wearing hats. Also, be a little jealous of their luxurious long lashes. After spending...ehmmm more than five minutes researching on the web, I was unable to find any commentary on the reason for this behavior. I am left to conclude these spiders are just awesome and have a quirky sense of fashion.

My real, mostly uneducated, theory is that this may have something to do with their vision.. and light refraction... perhaps?

'Cause I'm an English teacher...
Lu, Christina. "BuzzFeed." Weblog post. Community. N.p., 21 Apr. 2013. Web. 10 Jan. 2014.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Don't Bother to Argue...

... but their may be some who never believe you when you insist this is not a hummingbird but rather a moth that simply looks and behaves like a hummingbird.
Alas, yet another photo taken with my phone. I do have a nice camera but it's never with me when I encounter unique insects. Perhaps I'll make it a habit to carry the Nikon around all summer.

Meet the very busy snowberry clearwing moth, hemaris diffinis, otherwise known as the hummingbird moth, for obvious reasons.

Hummingbird Moth by Cozytailmom on deviantART

Photo by Christie Acker. Print available on Deviant Art

I Love Bee Butts and I Can Not Lie

I do love a good bee butt!
Honey bees are fascinating and disappearing at an alarming rate. Read up on this!
I'm thinking of starting an urban apiary. Maybe just a box or two, so I can see more of these "round things in my face" and help out these important cutie pies.

'Cause I'm an English teacher.
Sir Mix-a-lot. I Like Big Butts Lyrics. N.d. - Sir Mix-a-lot. Web. 09 Jan. 2014

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Dinner Party Tragedy

Truly tragic tales accompany this luna moth photo. The first being that I took the picture on my phone and gave it the Instagram treatment. The resolution is not great, but I think the graininess is a fitting 90s artsy angst.
The second sadness is that I informed my house guests of the alluring luna's short life span (7 days max) after they all decided that it truly was a bug they could love.
The worst of all revelations came after our own glutonous feasting when I revealed that lunas can not eat after metamorphosis. I suspect some guests left crying. For real...

Actias Luna 

'Till My Dying Day by Cozytailmom on deviantART

Photo by Christie Acker. Print available on Deviant Art.

Giddy up

 Yes ma'am. Check out this handsome Saddleback Caterpillar just strollin' along my back deck.

Sibine stimulea

Photo by Christie Acker. Print available on Deviant Art.

A Pretty Girl

A pretty girl needs a pretty seat. She also needs a crown and a bed of flowers.

I have yet to discover a new species in my lush backyard, BUT I may have found the loveliest.
Check out this sweet crab spider on one of my fragrant lantana blooms.

I Can be Pretty Too by Cozytailmom on deviantART

Photo by Christie Acker. Print available on Deviant Art