Thursday, February 25, 2010

Buggin' Out On Thursdays :: Egypt Isn't The Only Place For Green Metallic Scarabs!

A beautiful metallic green beetle known as the Fig-eater Beetle or June Beetle (Cotinis mutabilis) (Cotinis nitida) is one of the scarab beetles of Texas. Only three species of this type of beetle are found in Texas and this guy was crawling on my flagstone patio in a great hurry to get somewhere. Under those two plates of "metal" are the wings of the scarab. This beetle reminds me of a little inch long mini-tank. The above is the only photo I was able to take of him so I'm also sharing a really awesome shot of one from ThreadedThoughts on Flickr:

June Bug by ThreadedThoughts

These beetles are known by fruit farmers as pests because of their love for thin-skinned fruits like figs, peaches, apricots, nectarines, plums, and grapes. They don't have powerful jaws so they can't bite into any thick-skinned fruits (including your fingers). You can pick them up and hold them if you are so inclined. They are harmless to humans but due to their plump bodies they tend to fly in a haphazard manner so it's easy to have one bean you in the head if you aren't paying attention!

What kind of bugs have you seen lately?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Gloomy Cold Day

Blooms To Brighten The Day!

This winter seems especially gloomy and cold. To brighten the day I'm sharing this cheerful, sunny photograph I took at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens last Spring. I love to go to the gardens in April and May when all the spring flowers are in bloom.

I've been a fan of botanical gardens ever since my professor in Botany gave us an assignment to visit and write a report on our experience.

"Awake, thou wintry earth-
Fling off thy sadness.
Fair vernal flowers,
laugh forth Your ancient gladness!"
-Thomas Blackburn, Source: An Easter Hymn

Friday, February 19, 2010

Cherry Blossoms River Rock Pendant :: Inspired By Sunshine

River rocks with a branch of lovely Cherry Blossoms, how divine!

This addition to my Cherry Blossoms Collection is a smooth faux river rock with shimmering swirls of silver and rose gold to catch the light. Possibilities for these little treasures are endless but I couldn't resist turning the first one into a pretty pendant.

I formed the cherry blossoms and branches for this pendant free-hand and then carefully applied them to the river rock, which I also made by hand. The cherry blossoms themselves are made on the top of a thumbtack and transferred over to the river rock on the end of a needle - so tiny! The firing process ensures this pendant is fused as one secure piece.

Spring is coming! In anticipation and celebration for my all time favorite season, I'm offering free shipping on this necklace.

Buy It! at my Etsy shop.

New to Etsy? Here's a quick guide to get you started: Buying An Item On Etsy

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Buggin' Out On Thursdays :: A Green Lynx Spider Pounces Into The Virtual Bug Collection

It's Buggin' Out On Thursdays and I love this pretty spider! Yes, I think he's pretty. Greens, yellows, black polka dots, and crazy wicked looking hairy bristles on the legs. Awesome.

Green lynx spiders (Peucetia viridans) are a very welcome addition to my gardens. One little green spider up close in the macro lens brings a whole new world to life! I never knew this guy had transparent yellow legs with black spikes! I found my little buddy living in the foliage of my squash plants waiting for prey. I get these spiders in my gardens every year.

Like most anybody, green lynx spiders will bite you if provoked but are generally harmless to humans. Interestingly, in addition to injecting venom into their prey with their fangs they are capable of spraying venom from them as well. They eat insects that destroy crops like moths who feed on cotton. Unfortunately they don't discriminate if a bee or other beneficial pollinator happens to come around while they are hunting.

These spiders hunt during the day and roam low foliage, herbs and shrubberies. They can "pounce" on their prey when they come across something worth eating. They don't have a web but they can spin silk and use it as leverage or as a safety line when moving from one plant to another.

The species name, viridans, is Latin for "becoming green". The spider inspired me to make these earrings entitled "Green Lynx. Love Her. A pair of Peucetia viridans earrings" and they are part of my Mother Earth Collection @ Etsy.

They'd be wonderful for St. Patty's Day, yes? Unless of course you like getting pinched!

Buy the earrings here!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Blossoming. Cherry Blossoms River Rocks and Pebbles

Something pretty this way comes.

They can be anything but I'm making these into pendants for necklaces.

Available here @ The Home Of the Handmade Blossoms Collection -

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mosquito Game :: Be A Vector And Bite The Humans!

Become Speedy Ann, an Anapheles mosquito whose flight you control past obstacles, hungry birds, and insecticides so you can bite humans, give them Malaria, and use their blood to produce new eggs.

The first time I played the Mosquito Game I had a hard time figuring out the controls and immediately got eaten by a bird. Starting again, I found a human, hovered over him (a blue or orange dot) and started trying to settle down to take my blood meal (have to press and hold the space bar to "eat") when he noticed me and smashed me dead. The game had me laughing. Try and get the High Score by being the fastest mosquito to drink enough blood to produce eggs!

Play the game at Mosquito Game

Fast Facts:
  • Malaria is caused by a parasite, Plasmodium species.
  • Usually, people get malaria by being bitten by an infective female Anapheles mosquito. Only Anopheles mosquitoes can transmit malaria and they must have been infected through a previous blood meal taken on an infected person.
  • Once a mosquito ingests malaria parasites from an infected human, the parasites must undergo development within the mosquito for about 10-21 days before they are infectious to humans.
  • The mosquito Anapheles gambei is the main vector of malaria.
  • Each year 350-500 million cases of malaria occur worldwide, and over one million people die, most of them young children in Africa south of the Sahara.
  • From the CDC website:
"Some Anopheles species are poor vectors of malaria, as the parasites do not develop well (or at all) within them. It is hoped that some day, genetically modified mosquitoes that are refractory to malaria can replace wild mosquitoes, thereby limiting or eliminating malaria transmission."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day Hike

A hike in the natural areas, Texas State Parks, or along the Greenways is one of my favorite things. It's my time to breathe the fresh air and let all my cares flow away behind me as I wander down either rugged trails or paved paths with my two dogs and the love of my life, my husband. There is nothing better. It's a time to talk, walk, and bond in a way I can't do anywhere else in the world. It's where I am most at peace in the simple quiet of just being alive and happy.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 12, 2010

My Home-made Kim Chi

Kim to the Chi!

If you've been following my blog you know how much I've been craving homemade Korean kimchee.

I developed a taste for kim chi in high school while living in Japan. All of my close friends from that time in my life are of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese descent so I experienced a lot of delicious, authentic oriental dishes and I miss them (and my friends).

Now that I'm in Texas I can't find kim chi anywhere so I learned how to make it from scratch at Koreancuisine (Anna Kim) on YouTube! I've been eating it plain on top of steamed Kokuho Rose rice, spooning it into my Roo Hoo Rook Korean noodles, and making kim chi potato salad. I still have quite a bit left to use up so I'm constantly searching for more recipes to incorporate the kim chi!

Okay, back to my homemade recipe, the first thing you have to do after you've chopped all your veggies is soak the cabbage in salt water (brine) to pickle it, the process not only leaves a tasty amount of salt within the leaves but causes them to remain crunchy. I bought a big beverage party-bucket to soak my Napa cabbage in and it worked great! The chopped cabbage soaks for two hours then you rinse it in fresh water. It is imperative that you remember to rinse your cabbage three or four times in fresh water after it has soaked in the salt solution or it will be entirely too salty to eat. While it's soaking you get to make the "good stuff" which is a mixture of chopped green onion, daikon (Korean radish), and a sauce of apple, apple pear, garlic, ginger, and salty fish sauce (or anchovy sauce). Sounds pretty crazy, huh? It's so good!

I used my food processor to puree the sauce. It looks like applesauce when it's done but it sure doesn't smell like applesauce! I didn't have any daikon so I substituted red radishes (not the same but they will do in a pinch). Next time I make kim chi I'll be sure to have the correct type of radish, although Anna Kim did mention in her video that you can use any type of radish in the recipe. The puree, the chopped green onions, and the radish are mixed together by hand (wear rubber gloves) to complete the sauce for the kim chi.

If you suffer from heartburn while eating spicy foods you better take your antacid medicine before eating kim chi! Anna's recipe calls for 1 1/4 C of red pepper flakes! Oooo, yeah, you better believe that's hot stuff. I love it but I'm one of the lucky people who can eat spicy without detriment. Keep in mind it's a side dish and served in small portions with rice or a meal so a little goes a long way. After I rinsed my Napa cabbage and mixed the sauce into it, I spread it out in a 9x13 inch dish, covered it over with cling wrap and then put the lid on my casserole dish to sit overnight at room temperature. This allows the fermentation process to occur. Think of it as "ripening". Store the kim chi in the refrigerator for three days before eating. You can eat it right away but it will not achieve full flavor until it's allowed to chill.

Here's the recipe by Anna Kim:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Buggin' Out on Thursdays :: The Giant Leopard Moth Does Not Say Meow

I found this moth on the trail of McKinney Roughs Nature Park (outside of Austin, Texas). It's a Giant Leopard Moth (Hypercompe scribonia), also known as an Eyed Tiger Moth. I'm not sure if he was hurt or just tuckered out but I didn't want to bother him aside from taking a quick photograph. Well, it's more like a portrait.

When I was little we used to spot a LOT of little hairy caterpillars in the herb garden or trying to cross the street (which always worried me). My family called them "woolly" caterpillars. I considered them the teddy bear of the caterpillars. Therefore, I liked them. Granted, there are a lot of fuzzy bear worms out there but if you ever see a woolly caterpillar it might just be a baby Giant Leopard Moth. Don't try to pick them up and snuggle them though because, while they look fuzzy and sweet, the bristles on the caterpillars can irritate the skin and cause a rash!

The abdomen of a giant leopard moth is orange and blue. I think of it as God's way of showing us that as soon as we think we are seeing it all "in black and white" there is often something lurking beneath. In this case, something good, and pretty, and surprisingly delightful.

To see the orange and blue enlightenment of a Giant Leopard Moth's six pack abs: click here to check out!

What kind of bugs have you seen lately?

Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
No Taxon (Moths)
Superfamily Noctuoidea
Family Arctiidae (Tiger Moths)
Subfamily Arctiinae (Tiger Moths)
Tribe Arctiini
Genus Hypercompe
Species scribonia (Giant Leopard Moth - Hodges#8146)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Gathering Moss.

While a rolling stone may gather no moss, these earrings reflect just the opposite using the natural beauty of moss jasper. Moss jasper is also known as serpentine stone because of the cork-like or reptilian variations within the stone. Yesterday I was bitten by the earring fairy and conjured up 5 pairs of earrings.

The Gathering Moss Earrings are available now in my Etsy shop: Biologie - Inspired By Sunshine & Science.

Within the next 5 days I'll be uploading and listing four more pair of unique earrings, all handmade by yours truly.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Buggin' Out on Thursdays :: Western Spotted Orbweaver Spider joins the Virtual Bug Collection

Don't be scurred. I'm beneficial!

On a breezy Fall day I grit my teeth and try not to freak out while I bend, stretch, and strain to take photographs of the black spotted yellow spider bouncing on it's web in the gusts of wind.

Large spiders are pretty high on my freak-out factor but I suppose my love of life, nature and - well, bugs - transcend any major squeamishness as long as I'm just photographing. Finding a spider crawling on me is an entirely different matter and ends up in the dance otherwise known as "arachnid-induced flailing with various shouts and high pitched yelps of surprise" until it is flung off (hopefully unharmed)! That particular dance is exactly what I would have done if this spider jumped off it's web onto my camera. Luckily, these types of spiders are shy and their bite may be painful but it's non-toxic to humans. I understand that they will bite you if harassed (and in that case I don't blame them one bit)!

I found this spider making her web low to the ground in the afternoon by my honeysuckle vine. I went out to check on her a few days later and she was hiding up in the leaves of the honeysuckle. She was still attentive and attached to a new web with a little line of silk, waiting for prey. I guess she thought more bugs would get caught in her net if she hid on the side of the web rather than right smack in the middle.

With the help of the ID Request feature on I found out my spider is a Western Spotted Orb-weaver, Neoscona oaxacensis, and is indeed female. Apparently males don't have such bulbous bootys. A famous female weaver of the orb is Charlotte from the book Charlotte's Web by American author E. B. White. My mom used to read this to me and it is a beloved book from my childhood. Doing a little research I found out that Charlotte is a barn orb-weaver spider known as Araneus cavaticus.

Gorgeous big round spiderwebs spun in what is commonly thought of as the classic spiderweb shape are made by orb-weavers. A fitting name! If only I had taken a picture of the pretty round spiderweb in the morning, dripping with dew.

Interestingly, some orb-weavers do not build webs at all but instead dangle a sticky globule on a strand of silk from their front legs. The glob is covered in a scent to attract male moths which come looking for a female and instead find themselves bitten and subsequently eaten. Yikes!

What kind of bugs have you seen lately?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

:: Favorite Things ::

The amount of talent found at is boundless.

There are just too many wonderful artists out there! I can't even scratch the surface but I wanted to shine my little bitty blog spotlight on just a few of my personal favorites, all found on Etsy.

Check it out!

Buy Handmade