Stinging Nettle Slug Caterpillars (Cup Moths, Limacodidae)
by Sinobug (itchydogimages) on Flickr.
Pu’er, Yunnan, China
See more Chinese caterpillars on my Flickr site HERE…..
Sketches from Museum of Natural History, New York/New Jersey Warehouse, by Tommy Kane
(Source: Tommy Kane’s Blogspot)
Red Rock Canyon Blooms
In a year that has had good rainfall at the appropriate time, a springtime drive out to Cottonwood Valley in Nevada can be worthwhile if it’s wildflowers you’re searching for.
A hike along the Dead Horse Loop trail had us crouching next to the trail and in nearby washes to get photos. Of course there are Desert Paintbrush to see, but we were also interested those that were harder to spot. This included rarer sights such as Groundsel, Prince’s Plume, Gooding’s Verbena, Showy Goldeneye, Yellow Cryptantha and Desert Sandwort. It has been a great year for Ephedra, as most plants are blooming heavily. On the way back down after temperatures had risen a bit, we came across many Northern White-Skipper and Sagebrush Checkerspot butterflies pollinating the Mojave Goldenbush.
BASIC FACTS ABOUT MEXICAN GRAY WOLVES
The Mexican gray wolf is a subspecies of the grey wolf, and is the most endangered type of wolf in the world. Commonly referred to as “El lobo,” the Mexican wolf is gray with light brown fur on its back. Its long legs and sleek body enable it to run fast.
- Mexican wolves mostly eat ungulates (large hoofed mammals) like elk, white-tailed deer, and mule deer. They are also known to eat smaller mammals like javelinas, rabbits, ground squirrels and mice.
- After being wiped out in the United States and with only a few animals remaining in Mexico, Mexican wolves were bred in captivity and reintroduced to the wild in Arizona beginning in 1998. There are only about 300 Mexican wolves in captivity. The goal of the reintroduction program was to restore at least 100 wolves to the wild by 2006; unfortunately, at the end of 2012 there were still only approximately 75 wolves.
- Mexican wolves once ranged widely from central Mexico throughout the southwestern US. Today, the Mexican wolf has been reintroduced to the Apache National Forest in southeastern Arizona and may move into the adjacent Gila National Forest in western New Mexico as the population expands.
- Mexican wolves prefer to live in mountain forests, grasslands and shrublands, and are very social animals. They live in packs, which are complex social structures that include the breeding adult pair (the alpha male and female) and their offspring. A hierarchy of dominant and subordinate animals within the pack help it to work as a unit.
- Mating Season: Mid February-mid March.
- Gestation: 63 days.
- Litter size: 4-7 pups.
- Pups are born blind and defenseless. The pack cares for the pups until they mature at about 10 months of age.
Arctic Wolves and their Prey
by David Mech
One of the most fascinating creatures inhabiting the Arctic is the arctic wolf (Canis lupus arctos). The arctic wolf is a race, subspecies, or geographic variant of the gray wolf (Canis lupus) species that originally lived throughout the northern hemisphere north of 15°N latitude (12°N latitude in India). Year-around white coats and slightly shorter noses and ears distinguish these wolves from other races of the gray wolf, and the life of the arctic wolf is basically the same as the lives of wolves everywhere.
The arctic wolf lives in the area along the northern edge of the North American continent and northward to the North Pole, as well as along the eastern and northern shores of Greenland. Several large islands occupy the region between the north edge of the continent and the Pole. Although ice and snow permanently cover much of the area, parts of these islands become snow free between mid-June and mid-August and support enough low-growing plants to feed musk-oxen, Peary caribou, and arctic hares. These creatures constitute most of the food supply for the white wolves  that live in this place called the “High Arctic.”
Some white wolves can be found as far south as Wood Buffalo National Park in northern Alberta, Canada, at a latitude of 60°. At least one white wolf has been seen as far south as northern Minnesota. Because wolves sometimes disperse straight-line distances of over 550 miles, conceivably genes of the arctic wolf have found their way to Minnesota. On the other hand, most wolves south of about 70°, which more or less borders the northern edge of continental North America, are gray or black. North of there, most if not all, wolves are white.
Coat color is actually a very superficial characteristic with which to evaluate any species. The arctic wolf is a wolf. It is shaped like any other wolf, acts like any other wolf, travels like any other kind of wolf, breeds with any other kind of wolf, and behaves like any other wolf.
The High Arctic (75° to 90°N) is mostly unsettled by people. The northernmost Inuit (formerly Eskimo) village, Grise Fiord, nestles at about 75°. This village of about one hundred people was built in the 1950s by the Canadian government, and Inuit from farther south were moved there. The only other year-round human outposts in the region include a few weather stations and a military base.
All these settlements are relatively recent. And as a result, arctic wolves really have never been hunted or seriously pursued in most of the High Arctic, contrary to their counterparts throughout the rest of the northern hemisphere. This makes them mostly unafraid of any human beings they do run into. Rather than flee at the very scent of a human, they merely stand and gaze. In some areas, they can even be coaxed up close. Of course, they are very rare, with pack territories covering at least 1,000 square miles.
This lack of fear on the part of arctic wolves has allowed the author  to befriend a pack of them. By having discovered their den, the author managed to live with the wolves during summers 1986 through 1996 and to learn many things he could not by working with wolves farther to the south for some 40 years. These experiences, including one instance in which a white wolf came up and untied his bootlaces, are chronicled in a series of articles and publications [3, 4]. As of summer 2000, all of the wolves he befriended in the earlier years had died, and only one grandoffspring of the original “Mom” of the 1986 pack was left. However, the author and an associate continue to visit the area each summer to study prey populations and any other wolves that might eventually colonize the area.
In 2001, 2002, and 2003, even this last grandoffspring was gone, and no wolves were denning in the traditional den or the territory. Probably this was a result of very low numbers of muskoxen and arctic hares in this area. The low prey numbers seem to be related to snow cover during the last half of summer, both in 1997 (Mech 2000) and in 2000. Since then, weather conditions have improved, and prey have begun to increase again. New wolves began to use the area in 2003, and a pair produced 4 pups in 2004, that survived at least until July 15.
Photo by David Mech
In Luxury, Look Out
Oil on canvas, 105 x 145 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
That looks like quite a party.
Using a slow shutter speed combined with a powerful flash, Satoki Nagata captured a series of abstract black-and-white portraits in Chicago’s frigid winter.
Doesn’t the illuminated snow contrast in such an awesome way with the dark human shapes?