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Fred's photos from Wheaton Labs  RSS feed

 
gardener
Posts: 472
Location: St Paul, MN/Tularosa, NM and now a gapper at Wheaton Labs
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Thanks for the link Beverly, and thanks for the idea Paul. It would be nice to have something up on the Lab where my internet doesn't really work.

I found a hornet's nest under the eaves of one of the sheds here. They are beneficial predators and since the nest is not near a doorway, it isn't a problem.

I saw a big black beetle. I guess even the experts have a hard time distinguishing species, so i'll just leave it at Genus Coelocnemis.

The comfrey is just starting to bloom.

With all the rain everything is growing and it is exciting to watch.
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Hornet nest
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Genus Coelocnemis
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Comfrey
 
Fred Tyler
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Location: St Paul, MN/Tularosa, NM and now a gapper at Wheaton Labs
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There's been some mice in wofati 0.7, so i made a non-lethal version of a mouse trap Paul suggested (no water for drowning). I caught three mice on the first night. They are now far from any of our structures and will hopefully make a new home somewhere else.

As i stated previously, we've been getting a bit of rain. Even the sand is molding!

Throughout the day i saw a few Western Sculptured Pine Borers (Chalcophora angulicollis). Of course, when i got my camera the only one i could find wasn't all that sculptured. But it did have a nice coppery iridescence on its legs. The females are attracted to a chemical release by injured and stressed pine (and fir) trees. They then release a pheromone that attracts the males. The first ones to attack a tree are stopped by pitch, but they have released pheromones to attract greater numbers of both sexes and attack as a group. After mating they stop releasing attractants so their offspring will have less competition. Their larva burrow under the bark for two years before maturing to adults, leaving a pattern on the wood that many have seen.
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Deer Mice (Peromyscus maniculatus)
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white slime mold
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Western Sculptured Pine Borer (Chalcophora angulicollis)
 
Fred Tyler
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Location: St Paul, MN/Tularosa, NM and now a gapper at Wheaton Labs
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Found some prairie smoke growing near the tipi. Apparently some Plateau Indian tribes used it to treat tuberculosis. Hopefully i won't need to test that.

Peas have started blooming on the sun-scoop berm around the tipi!

While we were having dinner in the Wofati 0.7 i found an ichneumon wasp on the window. She was several inches long. She looks like she has a massive stinger, but she has a long ovipositor that she uses to drill into a tree and lay her eggs in larvae that are eating the cambium of the tree. Parasitizing the parasites. I'm guessing she is a Megarhyssa nortoni wasp. Apparently the adults of the species don't eat.
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Prairie smoke (Geum triflorum)
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Pea flower
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Ichneumon wasp (Megarhyssa nortoni)
 
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Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
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food preservation greening the desert solar trees
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Beautiful photographs! Keep providing more, please!

I think your mystery plant is henbane (Hyosycamus), which is toxic.
 
Fred Tyler
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Yes, Rebecca, i believe you are right! That looks like Hyoscyamus niger to me. I had wondered if it was a nightshade. Seed pods have started forming since i took that photo and they look like the ones in that article. I don't think i'll be adding that to any potions. Thanks!

Today i have a spider i spotted as i stooped to plant a seed next to some sunchokes. That spider was hanging out on last years stalk. During lunch i found two more ichneumon wasps. It must be the season to lay your eggs in a tree boring parasite. When i took the last photo she was cleaning herself. It looked almost like yoga at times as she passed her legs over all of her body and wings. I didn't have luck finding out any of the species today. Maybe i need a bug book too? Either way, it's nice to see all the diversity here at the Labs.

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Spidey
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ichneumon wasp
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ichneumon wasp
 
Fred Tyler
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One final (maybe) picture of some ichneumon wasps. It is an action shot of the Megarhyssa nortoni. At first i thought they might be mating, but when i looked closer, i could see that they were both drilling their ovipositors into the dead tree at different angles. There must have been a good batch of larvae in there and they both wanted that spot.

The second photo is some short lived mushrooms that are probably Parasola plicatilis. They work hard breaking down dead plant matter in the soil. When it rains they show up the next day and don't stay long. They melt and their inky spores are spread.

The last photo is of a bunchberry (Cornus canadensis). The leaves and flowers might remind you of dogwood, and that's because they're related and are in the same genus. They like to grow in a moist area near a rotten log or stump. Maybe with all the hugles going in, we'll be seeing a lot more of these. I'll try and get another photo when the edible berries show up, and i just might stick some of their seeds into a hugle and see how they do. Bunchberries have one of the fastest known plant actions. When a pollinator shows up and moves the petals about, a springy filament is released. This throws the pollen incredibly fast and the pollen grain experiences two or three thousand times the force of gravity.
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drilling wasps (Megarhyssa nortoni)
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Parasola plicatilis?
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Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis)
 
pollinator
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Location: Federal Way, WA - Western Washington (Zone 8 - temperate maritime)
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Beautiful, Fred. Thanks a bunch! :)
 
Fred Tyler
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Location: St Paul, MN/Tularosa, NM and now a gapper at Wheaton Labs
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Thanks Rebecca and Nancy. I'm glad you're enjoying the photos. I've enjoyed my time here taking them.

First i made a video of some workers on the lab taking out a stump.



I wanted a little sauerkraut, so i chopped up some cabbage and started it fermenting. I used the recipe from Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz.

I found what looks like California poppy (Eschscholzia californica). Wikipedia says they don't overwinter in cold climates. But this one has such lush growth, i think it must have had some roots in the ground to get an early start. Don't know if an earlier gapper planted these, because we are outside of it usual range, but i've seen several around the Lab.

Lastly, some foothill death camas (Toxicoscordion paniculatum). Reportedly, livestock generally avoid this plant as it is unpalatable. Sounds like they might use it occasionally to self medicate, like Sepp Holzer suggests. So this can be one of many poisonous plants in the paddocks here. Native peoples used it externally to treat bruises, sprains, and boils. I guess most bees (except some specialists) avoid it because of the toxicity of the pollen.
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making sauerkraut
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California poppy (Eschscholzia californica)
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Foothill death camas (Toxicoscordion paniculatum)
 
Fred Tyler
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The first picture looks kind of like kingdevil hawkweed, but i'm leaning towards two-flowered dwarf-dandelion (Krigia biflora). I didn't take a picture of the leaves, so i can't be sure.

I was seeding some of the hillside above basecamp and i found a large mound from thatching ants. I didn't get close enough to see if it was the Western thatching ant (Formica obscuripes) or the less common Formica montana which only occasionally thatches (a close approach often results in painful regret, as they will fiercely defend their nest). The raised mound allows the ants to collect solar energy and warm the mound during colder months. The large amount of organic matter helps them maintain temperature and humidity. These ants (especially their larvae) are a favorite food of bears and pileated wood peckers. Besides a bite these ants also spray formic acid at attackers. This painful combination is enough to drive away a bear after a short while. These ants will scavenge dead insects but are also know for farming aphids for honeydew. Around mid-June the new queens and drones will emerge from the nest (both with wings) by the thousands. They will fly away to mate (after which the males die) and form new colonies.

Last is the Large-flowered collomia (Collomia grandiflora). This plant is in the phlox family. It has blue pollen, which explains the blue bees i saw returning to the hive at the teepee.
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probably two-flowered dwarf-dandelion (Krigia biflora)
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Thatching ant mound
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Large-flowered collomia (Collomia grandiflora)
 
Fred Tyler
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First is an unidentified beetle.

Next is a cicada exoskeleton. I saw several holes in the ground and several exoskeletons attached to grass and shrubs.

Ernie and Erica Wisner are visiting Wheaton Labs (along with Francesco from Italy). Today Ernie worked on a 4" J-tube with a cast core that he hopes to perfect for heat and hot water systems for boats and tiny houses. It overloaded the IR thermometer that Francesco had (maxed out at 1300 Celsius), so we don't know how hot it got.
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beetle
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Cicada
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4" J-tube
 
It wasn't my idea to go to some crazy nightclub in the middle of nowhere. I just wanted to stay home and cuddle with this tiny ad:
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https://permies.com/t/97104/Starting-homestead-strong-foundation
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