Category Archives: Science

Happy Valentine’s Day

February sunrise

February sunrise

A perfect February cover of Missouri Conservationist

A perfect February cover of Missouri Conservationist

The Spy's valentines for his classmates

The Spy’s valentines for his classmates

You Rock!

You Rock!

Microgreen (grown indoors!)

Microgreen (grown indoors!)

Perfect February colors!

Perfect February colors!

Baby's first time ice skating

Baby’s first time ice skating

Second time ice skating (his first time was about 5 years ago!)

Second time ice skating (his first time was about 5 years ago!)

Dexie says happy Valentines day!

Dexie says happy Valentines day!

Last year's valentine hahaha

Last year’s valentine hahaha

New swimwear! (trying it on over her clothes cause it's cold out!)

New swimwear! (trying it on over her clothes cause it’s cold out!)

Another old valentine (2013?)

Another old valentine (2013?)

Moss

Moss

Horse track

Horse track

Pink clouds

Pink clouds

Visiting the llamas (and alpacas)

Visiting the llamas (and alpacas)

Alpaca

Alpaca

I like the fur on this one

I like the color of fur on this one

Easter Bunny Llama haha

Easter Bunny Llama haha

This one looks like a camel

This one looks like a camel

Llamas

Llamas

Alpacas

Alpacas

This one's name is Buddy

This one’s name is Buddy

Alpaca

Alpaca

Snowflakes on a log

Snowflakes on a log

Moss dusted with snow

Moss dusted with snow

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Snakes!

Hello again!

Hello again!

Snake-watch continues. My new hobby is staring at this tree:

Which as you can see, can be viewed from many vantage points at our house!

Which as you can see, can be viewed from many vantage points at our house!

The snakes' tree seen from the living room

The snakes’ tree seen from the living room

From the front porch...

From the front porch…

Can you spot the snakes WAY up there? (top of the picture just to the left of the middle)

Can you spot the snakes WAY up there? (top of the picture just to the left of the middle)

Pretty sure this one is a female

Pretty sure this one is a female

And that this one is a male

And that this one is a male

Baby says "they are good climbers!"

Baby says “they are good climbers!”

Honey...

Honey…

I'm home!

I’m home!

Home, sweet home!

Home, sweet home!

I asked Babyzilla what they should be named and she said “Tongue-y” and “Tongue-y II” Hhahahahaha

Don't fall on us!!!

Don’t fall on us!!!

Amorous...

Amorous…

Snakes!

Snakes!

The snakes are at it again!

The snakes are at it again!

They are about 30-40 feet high here!

They are about 30-40 feet high here!

This picture amazes me!!!

This picture amazes me!!!

Snakes in love

Snakes in love

From the Missouri Department of Conservation Website:

Overcome the Fear of Snakes

Some people have such a dread of snakes that they actually avoid going outdoors to fish, hunt, hike, or picnic. Others kill every snake they see. This is too bad, both for the people who let the fear of snakes keep them from enjoying nature, and for nature itself. It’s relatively easy to avoid direct encounters with snakes, and all snakes — even venomous ones — help control populations of rodents and other pests. Getting to know the kinds, natural history, and distribution of Missouri’s snakes can help you overcome your fear of them and appreciate their role in nature.

Missouri’s Wildlife Code Protects Snakes

Few Missourians realize that all snakes native to our state are protected. The Wildlife Code of Missouri treats snakes, lizards, and most turtles as nongame. This means that there is no open season on these animals, and it is technically unlawful to kill them. There is a realistic exception, however: when a venomous snake is in close association with people, which could result in someone being bitten. We hope that more people realize that snakes are interesting, valuable, and, for the most part, harmless.

Snakebites are Rare

Contrary to popular belief, snakes do not go looking for people to bite. In fact, snakes are more afraid of you than you are of them. As Jim Low says in his Snakebytes blog post, “Snakebite ranks just above falling space debris as a threat to human life.” Read his post to learn more about who gets bitten by snakes, when, and why.

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Last night walking out the front door I almost stepped on…

AGGGHHHhhhh! Copperhead!

AGGGHHHhhhh! Copperhead!

Hasta la Vista

Hasta la Vista

RaaaAAAAAgggghhhhH!

RaaaAAAAAgggghhhhH!

From the Smithsonian National Zoo website:

Copperheads are social snakes. They may hibernate in a communal den with other copperheads or other species of snakes including timber rattlesnakes and black rat snakes. They tend to return to the same den year after year. Copperheads can be found close to one another near denning, sunning, courting, mating, eating, and drinking sites. They are believed to migrate late in the spring to reach summer feeding territories and reverse this migration in early autumn.

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Needless to say, I am not pleased with the idea of a communal copperhead/black rat snake den under our front porch!!! AGGGhhhhhhh!!! Baby named the copperhead “Teeth-y”!

***

Males are aggressive during the spring and autumn mating seasons. They try to overpower each other and even pin the other’s body to the ground. This behavior is exhibited most often in front of females but this is not always the case. These interactions may include elevating their bodies, swaying side to side, hooking necks, and eventually intertwining their entire body lengths. Copperheads have been reported to climb into low bushes or trees after prey or to bask in the sun. They have also been seen voluntarily entering water and swimming on numerous occasions. (source)

Camouflage

Camouflage

From the Missouri Department of Conservation Website:

All venomous snakes native to Missouri are members of the pit viper family. Pit vipers have a characteristic pit located between the eye and nostril on each side of the head. They also have a pair of well-developed fangs

Note the shape of the pupil. The pupils of venomous snakes appear as vertical slits within the iris. Our venomous species all have a single row of scales along the underside of the tail.

Looks like something from Game of Thrones!

Looks like something from Game of Thrones!

Missouri’s venomous snakes include the copperhead, cottonmouth, western pygmy rattlesnake, massasauga rattlesnake, and timber rattlesnake. The western diamond-backed rattlesnake and coralsnake are not found in Missouri. The most common venomous snake in Missouri is the copperhead.

Forces of Nature

22. HeLa and Hornworms

I am writing 300-1000 words per day and this is day 22. I am not too inspired to write today because I would really rather be reading a book I just started called The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (by Rebecca Skloot). It is the story of the woman behind HeLa cells (cells that have been used extensively in medical research).  The cells were obtained for research during a biopsy of a tumor she had. Though she consented to the procedure, she had no knowledge (and never consented) for the use of her cells in research and her family has never really benefitted from the VAST discoveries the cells have enabled. There are many recent articles about the controversy surrounding HeLa cells. Here are a few published just last month if you are interested:

Henrietta Lacks’ Family Finally gets say in Genetic Destiny. Can we control our own? (CNN Health)

A New Chapter in the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (National Geographic)

I’m 100 pages in, it’s a good story and I’m eager to get back to it! I also have half and eye on 9/11 television specials and it is just so sad to remember that horrific day.

I finally took a closer look at the tomato plants today (beyond just picking the ripe tomatoes) and noticed a bunch of tomato hornworms.

Tomato Hornworm

Tomato Hornworm

These colorful creatures are very destructive and really go to town eating the foliage and fruits on the plants. They are pretty big and I would find it way too disgusting to squish or kill them. So I piled them up in my “corner office” on my “desk” and then I was going to take a picture of them all together. I had them artfully arranged on the flat surface each of them munching on their own clipped tomato branches. There were about 15 of them. It was going to be a very funny and interesting picture. Alas, it was a picture I didn’t take. I got sidetracked and when I came back half of them had fallen off the desk and crawled away and only a couple were left.

For some reason they remind me of My Little Pony:

Neiiighhhhh…No?

Neiiighhhhh

Neighhhhh

Neighhhhh

Cephala-pony, a close relative to the hornworm HAhahaha HAHAHAH

So anyways, I did pick off all the ones I saw. Even managed to spot this little guy:

Unicorn Pony. Well the unicorn horn is coming out of the wrong end…

Unicorn Pony. Well, the unicorn horn is coming out of the wrong end…

I didn’t kill them because like I said that would just be gross and even though, yes, they are destructive, they are just really cool-looking pests. So I just tossed them in the woods. Better a bird to eat them than me to squish them.