Category: nature

It’s like I’m a real writer now


Oh boy. I don’t half-ass things. Apparently that includes coming out of the HEY GUYS I’M AUTISTIC closet. Which I did earlier this week. In a nature magazine. They did a feature on birders with disabilities, and wanted to get a written piece from a birder with autism. And I was like *waves arms furiously*. (Because it paid and I’m unemployed right now)


A 200 word limit is VERY SHORT for an essay, holy carp. But the web piece will be longer (it’s not out yet). Do you like my kinglet?! I took that picture!

Anyway, this is a tiny little essay tucked into some obscure nature magazine nobody reads, right?



Well, what are the odds that somebody I know will read this issue cover-to-cover and notice my name at the bottom of this short little article? I’m quoted in the Editor’s Note at the beginning of the Issue

The best part? When I was talking with the editor of this section in the beginning, I sent her some writing samples so she could get an idea of my ability to actually write. Those samples included some posts from this blog. 

I got my copies of the magazine shipped to me super quick, but I’m not sure when regular subscribers will be getting them. I did post about this on my NanoNaturalist facebook page, so all my IRL nature people who follow me there know my secret (although to be honest, I am highly suspicious of anybody who didn’t notice I was a little weird to begin with).

Life continues to be fun and exciting!
March 16, 2019

Halp need Headline for WEB VERSION

I’m working on the edits for the web version of this essay (it’s like, 4x longer), and I have been asked for input on the HEADLINE and SUBHEADLINE for the piece. Of course, knowing that I needed to get this done tonight, because I have a job interview on Tuesday, I spent all day doing yard work and cleaning my kitchen (finally, my kitchen has been a disaster since December!). I will probably “think about the headline a little more” when I submit my edits at 4 am.

Anybody have witty ideas? Themes of the article: 

Autism & ADHD
Looking at birds
Holy hyperfixation, Batman
Taking pictures of birds

Some recent headlines and subheadlines as examples:


Previous articles as examples: Audubon Magazine: Birding Articles [link]

You uh… think they’ll say no if I want to work a handflapping / stumpy wings joke into the title? I mean, it IS April, after all. 😉

April 14/15, 2019

“Give Her A Boop” Sphodromantis ga…

“Give Her A Boop” Sphodromantis gastrica (African mantis) adult female in dark morph. She has a sweeter disposition than the others.
#sphrodromatisgastrica #sphrodromantis #africanmantis #prayingmantis #mantodea #mantis #nature #wildlife #animals #insect #science #entomology #exotic #pets #aliens #photography #mantismonarch #boopable


So it hailed in Texas today [link]

Above photos are not mine, I took them from the thread linked above. My area (Austin) only got the standard size hail, but San Antonio got hail up to 3 inches in diameter, which is large enough to crack a car’s windshield.

We had a thunderstorm (complete with tornado warning!) last weekend, too. And on Wednesday, we broke the high temperature record across the state. Del Rio reached into the mid-100F range. Austin was mid-90’s. What climate change?

April 13, 2019

A Rare Bald Eagle Trio—Two Dads and a Mom—Capt…

A Rare Bald Eagle Trio—Two Dads and a Mom—Captivates Webcam Fans:


In a tall tree situated on the Mississippi River in Fulton, Illinois, three eagles, a female and two males, are looking after three downy eaglets.


April 12, 2019

I,,, misread nepenthens for isoetes on the las…

I,,, misread nepenthens for isoetes on the last post somehow and i felt,,,, f,,,fear,,,,

fun fact there’s literally no books out there showcasing all the species of isoetes in the world like u might find for other plants. if u want to know that information u gotta go digging through 89 levels of deep academia and only then may you possibly stumble upon a hit list of names. 

when i was researching for my term paper on them last semester i tried to build a distribution map of all the species, but the only book i could find was a weird old cloth-bound codex (literally a codex) that i had to specially request from my uni’s library storage building. after i got it i realized that 1. it…really was just deadass a list of names and ranges, 2. it was nowhere close to the exact ranges and just gave vague outdated country information with weirdly ambiguous sources, and 3. it was nowhere close to all the species known to us. the actual age of the book was hard to pin down; i want to say that it was 1970s, but it felt…….older somehow. it had quite The Energy and i quickly returned it 

im sure that if u were to dig through some databases, you’d be able to find a more comprehensive list– i accidentally stumbled on a comprehensive checklist of all the hornworts in the world published by phytokeys, for instance, and hornworts are kind of in the same category of ‘weird niche nonvascular plants one might glimpse for 3 seconds while hiking like bigfoot amongst the trees’– but man, why cant we just have a nice comprehensive coffee table isoetes book? 

this is off topic now but i keep reading these researchers in both isoetes and hornwort papers talking about how one of the biggest challenges to new research is that nobody knows jack shit about them, and i cant help but think like….comprehensive, readable knowledge of these plants is near impossible to find? like, most of the modern papers i was reading for isoetes kept shying away from discussing the fucked up anatomy of those plants to the point where the only book i was able to find that laid it all out for the reader in a semi-understandable format was a book from the late 1960s buried in the fern section of our library? all the illustrations in it were hand drawn? i still havent been able to find a good photo of some of these structures? i got a couple high resolution scans of some of the samples from my uni’s herbarium to publish on this blog, and had people literally come thank me because pics of specimens cut open to show the actual anatomy are hard as shit to find? like? 

this turned into a little bit of a rant but come on lads!!! to get to know these plants u gotta go through like 93 levels of academia and know like 6 people!!! it’s no wonder why nobody knows them well!!! 

Gonatista grisea (Florida bark mantis) sub adu…

Gonatista grisea (Florida bark mantis) sub adult. #gonatistagrisea #flordiabarkmantis #prayingmantis #mantodea #mantis #nature #insect #animals #wildlife #alien #MantisMonarch #throwback #flashback

Oh gosh, don’t handle poison ivy, even i…

Oh gosh, don’t handle poison ivy, even if you aren’t allergic to it! You can abruptly develop a reaction to it and it can be severe. The more you expose yourself to it the more you risk this, for this reason I try to avoid it despite being immune. My dad was as well, but fell victim to hubris. He would pick it to warn people he met on trails of what it looks like (and show off), until one time he picked some to show some clueless tourists… and had loonie sized blisters all over the next day.

Trust me, I do not go out of my way to roll around in poison ivy patches! The photos were from when I became overconfident in my ability to identify boxelder maple (I guess I still have no freaking idea how to tell the two apart, what even are plants???), and I was taking photos of what I thought was a branch of maple. I’ve gone back to my ways of just… not touching either. 


Above: me fondling a poison ivy’s berries (oops)

When I was in 3rd grade, I played around in a massive pile of leaves with a friend, and ended up with a full-body rash that was so itchy I had to miss three days of school. No idea what happened, but all the adults said I got poison oak. My less-enthusiastic friend got a little itchy on her arms (I was really rolling around in that piles of leaves, guys). And now that I’m in Texas, I know summer is here when I have to miss a week of work from chiggers. Trust me, I am not looking for more ways to get itchy!

I’m a long-sleeves-long-pants hiker, especially as it gets hotter, so chance encounters are infrequent, ALTHOUGH! I’d like to point out to folks that the oils that cause irritation from poison ivy can remain on your clothing for years, and it can continue to cause reactions! Same thing if your dog/cat goes wandering through a poison ivy patch, and then you pet them, those oils are there, and they can give you a reaction!

Learn more about poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac! [link to]

April 5, 2019









But seriously, when we got our property, it was all just…grass. A sterile grass moonscape, like a billion other yards. With two big old maple trees. Just grass and maples, that was it. 

But then I got my grubby little paws on it, and I immediately stopped fertilizing, spraying, and bagging up grass clippings and leaves. I ripped up sod and put in flowers and vegetables. I put down nice thick blankets of mulch around the flowers and vegetables. 

When I first was sweating my way through stripping sod, I saw a grand total of 1 worm and 0 ladybugs. The ground was compacted into something that would bend shovel blades. 

Now, six years later, I can’t dig a planting hole without turning up fourteen earthworms, and there are so many ladybugs here. Not the invasive asian lady beetles; native ladybugs. They winter over in the mulch and in the brush pile. I see thousands of them. 

The soil is soft and rich. There are birds that come to eat, and bees of many sorts.

Like this is something that you, yourself, can absolutely change. This is something that you, personally, can make a difference in.

Like, last year I watched no fewer than twenty-nine monarch caterpillars grow up on my milkweed and fly away as butterflies. I watched swallowtails and moths grow. There are hummingbirds fighting over flowers now.

I did that. Me. You can do the same.

I would like to learn how to do this. Sometimes it all seems so overwhelming. I just want to find someone who can come over for a cuppa, and we can wander the yard and they can make me a plan. 

Preferably a very easy to follow, doesn’t take too much time every day plan.

It’s not nearly so intimidating as it sounds.

You can do a whole lot of good just by not spraying your yard, not mowing it so often, and not raking up leaves and grass.

But as a certified Lazy Ass Gardener, I can tell you for 100% certain that this is attainable, and requires absolutely zero, none, nada, zilch expensive or complicated equipment.

I don’t even have a plan. I just do things.

Wait so, dont mow as much, dont pick up the grass when you mow, and dont pick up leaves and your grass is healthier? my dad likes to mow the lawn every one to 2 weeks in the summer💀 what other tips do you guys have?

Yup. Those grass and leaf clippings rot down and fertilize the soil.

Grass does BETTER when it’s not mown short, and gives more hiding places to all sorts of insects.

Don’t spray. Let the bugs and ‘weeds’ live.

i have a 10’x10’ piece of garden that i initially used to grow things, but i abandoned it completely and now its absolutely covered in “weeds” and i even have a volunteer shrub that makes berries! the amount of native bees and other insects i attract is incredible. and all i do to maintain it is nothing.

For reals. I have to mow my front yard (I live in an HOA… ugh), but I don’t bag my clippings. I never water my yard (and I live in Texas!), but my grass is green all year. The clippings and mulched leaves keep in moisture and they’re nature’s fertilizer! Lizards and frogs hide under the leaves and clippings, and when you remove those, you are removing their habitat. Bugs will show up and munch on the clippings, and their waste adds more nutrients as well. I don’t fertilize. I don’t spray. I let nature do its thing. Even just in the front, there are bugs everywhere. I’ve found the tiny green sweat bees nesting in the ground under my rose bush, and the giant cicada killer wasps had a nest somewhere in my front yard last year–I couldn’t find it, but they were pollinating the sorrelvine that randomly showed up and decided to climb up my oak tree (which was the host plant for the Vine Sphinx moths and the first batch of sawflies I raised!)

In the back? I planted a few things in a small garden area, and I intentionally planted three (3) trees, but I’m busy/lazy and the back yard became the paradise jungle it is when I was writing my Master’s thesis after moving into this house, and I never had the heart to start mowing it. A bunch more trees decided to start growing on their own and I constantly have to murder soapberry and hackberry and elm saplings. My yard is covered in a mix of native plants and invasive bunch grass, in addition to random grains and sunflowers growing under the bird feeders. They all serve as hosts for insects. 

In less than three years, I have documented almost 1000 species of plants, insects, birds, fungi, slime molds, and mammals. My yard is 0.10 acres. I have ladybugs crawling out of my ears. The larvae are pupating all over my horse skeleton!!!

So yeah. Want species diversity in your yard? Plant native plants. Are you a lazy ass like me and want species diversity? Then don’t do anything, congratulations, nature still wins (just look out for all those invasives, and have fun pulling out catchweed -_-)

April 5, 2019

“Does this mantis make me look fat?&rdqu…

“Does this mantis make me look fat?” Pseudocreobotra wahlbergii (spiny flower mantis) adults mating. Female seems worried about her looks while the male is worried about his head.
#pseudocreobotrawahlbergii #spinyflowermantis #prayingmantis #mantodea #mantis #nature #wildlife #animals #insect #science #entomology #photography #exotic #aliens #mantismonarch #breeding #mating #flashback #throwback

“Love is in the air” Phyllocrania …

“Love is in the air” Phyllocrania paradoxa (ghost mantid) adult coupling. I was able to get two pair bred over the weekend.
#phyllocraniaparadoxa #ghost #prayingmantis #mantodea #mantis #nature #wildlife #animals #insect #science #entomology #photography #exotic #pet #alien #mantismonarch #breeding #mating