Wednesday 20 December 2023

7x7 (11. 199)

dongmei zone: seven months interred in a online scam labour camp—via Waxy  

santa claus go straight to the ghetto: David Byrne shares his Christmas playlist  

napolรฉon vu par abel gance: a 1927 ingenious, panoramic adaptation of the historical figure 

local inference: when AI assistants leave the cloud and haunt one’s laptop, all bets are going out the window—via Good Internet  

autogamy: evolutionary changes in wild pansies suggest that the flowers have given up on increasingly rare insects and are turning to self-pollination, a vicious cycle for the whole ecosystem 

tom & jerry: the typology of North American eggnog cartons—via Kottke  

jewel streets: a twelve-block neighbourhood known as the Hole of New York City neglected and forgotten for decades

Wednesday 19 July 2023

6x6 (10. 895)

tijuana brass: Herb Alpert and Lani Hall cover “Maniac” from Flashdance for the Oscars (1984)  

choose your own adventure: the rise and fall of type-in narrative games, an addendum to Fifty Years of Text Games (previously)—via Waxy 

collective nouns: a group of butterflies is properly a kaleidoscope, whilst a swarm of caterpillars is an army—see more 

tayme that crabbe: a medieval guide to food presentation 

the blobs are happy in their new, hand-build wizzinator and that’s all that’s important to me right now: experimenting with a fun physics sandbox—see also  

jennyanydots: a favourite Mountain Goats’ character returns

Monday 27 June 2022

macroglossum stellatarum

The butterflies have discovered our patch of lavender for sometime now and there’s always at least half a dozen of them swarming about but now it seems the community of hummingbird hawk moths (Taubenschรคnzchen) is enjoying nectaring a la cartรฉ as well. An example of convergent evolution, recognising the same quiver of behaviours and adaptations with its long proboscis to probe flowers works across species. Unlike other moths which are either diurnal or nocturnal, these hawk moths can be found active at all hours and display no visible sexual dimorphism—even in the antennal lobes size, serving a comparable role as the olfactory bulb in vertebrates and which is a prominent marker for most moths in distinguishing between male and female.

Sunday 19 June 2022


crisis on terra prime: US president Biden invokes emergency powers to boost solar energy production

midsommar: ten ways to celebrate the June Solstice—via Strange Company  

madagascator projection: another look at mapping and bias—see previously  

unai no tomo: an early twentieth century catalogue of Japanese toys  

imago and eclosion: good pictures of a newly emerged swallowtail  

controlled burn: astronauts have lit thousands of little fires in microgravity to understand its strange behaviour  

you spin right round, baby, right round: the only way to play Weezer’s new singles is to become one’s own turn table—via Waxy  

perovskites: research into making cheap but brittle photovoltaic technology sturdier to rival modern solar cells

Saturday 18 June 2022


We weren’t quite sure what attracted this Aglais io—Peacock butterfly a member of the anglewing tribe, see previously here and here, to our windowsill long enough to photograph (click to magnify) but this individual probed around for quite a few moments before flitting away, tolerating our curiosity on the other side of the glass pane. The eyespots are the most obvious defensive mechanisms for passerine predators—also see above—but they also apparently emit a hissing sound that deters hunters.

Saturday 29 January 2022


In a development as outrageous and unhinged as the so called Pizzagate conspiracy theory—which (take a deep breath) in case you had forgotten that madness posited that the hacked cache of emails of Hilary Clinton and other prominent Democratic Party officers contained coded messages that implicated them in a human trafficking ring run out of the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, DC—the National Butterfly Sanctuary on the US-Mexico border is forced to temporarily shut down due to “credible threats” logged in connection with an upcoming Trump-adjacent political rally. Accusing the centre of facilitating illegal border crossings over the Rio Grande/Rรญo Bravo, money-laundering and using butterfly swarms to dispose of bodies, the rumours are being propagated by a fund-raising committee hoping to privately finance the Wall.

Monday 20 September 2021


fallout boy: the legacy of Albania’s seven-hundred-thousand bunkers  

al forno: Barilla (previously) sponsors an annual contest to solicit for innovative designs for its 3D pasta printer  

mathmos: how lava lamps are manufactured—see also 

stowaways: butterfly researches in the ร…land islands accidentally introduce a parasitic wasp that relies on the caterpillars as well as a hyperparasitoid that the wasps host 

 รฎle flottante: a boat camouflaged as a rock tours the coastline of Marseille—via Everlasting Blรถrt

Sunday 1 August 2021


Graced with half a dozen flitting European peacocks (Tagpfauenauge, Aglais io), H got this flowering shrub Buddleja davidii as a present from his colleagues, commonly known as the summer lilac or simply, appropriately a butterfly-bush.  The ornamental plant is native to Hubei in Central China and named after the European missionaries and botanists Reverend Adam Buddle and Father Armand David who first collected and described it for the West, and just put in the ground. With the fragrance of honey and a rich source of nectar for pollinators, the perennial plant flowers in the summertime for six weeks, thriving in more temperate areas to the extent that this opportunistic and “perfect”—as in botanically being both male and female, self-propagating plant is sometimes classed as a noxious weed. We defer judgement to the butterflies, however.

Thursday 25 June 2020


Coincidentally thanks to a post from a fellow blogger, I was able to indirectly identify the butterflies that I encountered in the meadow yesterday gathered around a thistle bloom through his meeting of a Tawny Emperor. These are their European cousins called Apatura metis—that is Freyer’s Purple Emperor (Donau-Schillerfalter), taxonomically classified by entomologist Christian Friedrich Freyer of Ansbach in 1829, and so called as the open wings of the males display blue and purple, if viewed from the right angle but normally appear to have more subdued harvest colours.

Monday 1 June 2020


Though less well attested and possibly uncommon, there’s a type of seasonal animal dormancy that’s the corollary to hibernation. From the Latin for summer, รฆstivation is a state of torpor that some organisms enter—both terrestrial and aquatic—to protect themselves from overheating or desiccation. I’ve sometimes noticed snails scale fence posts or nest in crowns of flowers (that are the remains of an earlier season of growth themselves) along with other insects, apparently รฆstivating it seems, but the slumber is a relatively light one and easy to raise from.

Thursday 4 April 2019

wir retten die bienen

Breaking developments on a story we’ve been watch for a few weeks now from TYWKIWDBI, the state legislature of Bavaria (previously) has announced that it will enact a petition to save vital pollinators and insect populations in general by reforming agricultural practises, boosting organic farming, reducing run-off and providing more oases for bees and butterflies, fully adopting the demands without setting it before a plebiscite—as its popularity and political will have already been sufficiently demonstrated. Protests begun in February have resulted in a rather landmark shift in attitude translated to real change in the course of a couple of months, passing unanimously through parliament.

Monday 19 November 2018


Via Fast Company, we learn that in response to the shocking, precipitous drop in flying insect populations and the consequence that has moving up the food-chain, designer Matilde Boelhouwer—with the consultation of entomologists—has created and installed oases for urban dwelling pollinators who might otherwise find themselves in a food desert.
Rather than copying Nature with her artificial flowers, Boelhouwer has instead studied the ways that butterflies, moths, honey bees and bumblebees feed and created a composite morphology that maximises attractiveness and access. The stations are even self-sustaining, replenishing the food supply with a catchment for rain water and operating through capillary action. It’s hard to say what the long term outcomes of such interventions might be but surely this act of kindness for the small and similar efforts are a step in the right direction to rehabilitate our stewardship of the planet.

Sunday 12 August 2018

carlina acaulis

Taking a walk through the woods, I noticed in a few select spots, along the verge of the path and outside the places dappled by shadow a sort of silvery thistle that while sticking me as somehow very familiar seemed still an exotic treat. Afterwards I learned that these flowers are indeed called a silver thistle (die Silber- oder Rhรถndistel being native to Alpine regions and this area), differing from their more common, stalked relatives due to having no stem (a-caulis), an incidence of what’s called inflorescence where the blossom comes directly out of the leaves.
Wanting to protect its relatively exposed pollen supply safe until a bee or butterfly comes along, the thistle will close up the flower presaging rain showers as was a traditional way of forecasting the weather—especially as the plant is likely to flower in August through September. The plant, as with other thistle varieties, was important for folk medicine for its recognised antimicrobial and diuretic properties, as well as being edible—the thistle being the undomesticated version of the artichoke.
I also realised where the image of the flower came from: for years we’ve been using up a particular notepad for shopping and to-do lists whose edges are printed with patterns in Nature, with the silver thistle as one of the examples of precision engineering and design.

Wednesday 1 August 2018

of pageants and placements

Not to be cynical as they are some really amazing hobby photographers whose talents deserve to be showcased and it’s always good to be curious about one’s surroundings but we’ve wondered if sponsoring a picture contest might not be a good and profitable business-model worth pursuing. It seems like everyone’s getting into competition one way or another and the field still has a lot of room for expansion and we’ve got an attested weakness for just about any speciality superlatives. The whole field taken together is sort of like PR’s PR Award from Absolutely Fabulous—“That award had your name on it Eddy.”
Though not nearly as polished as the top entrants of the International Garden Photographer of the Year contest—co-sponsored by Kew Gardens—learning of the inclusion of a Macro Art category inspired me to share a couple of serendipitous, up-close shots of a dragonfly (eine Libelle) and a butterfly (ein Schmetterling) from our back garden. What do you think? What would be a good niche class of photography to hold a contest for?

Wednesday 7 February 2018

stick insect

We enjoyed seeing this collection of moths, butterflies, mantises and beetles created by Montreal-based fashion designer Raku Inoue out of seasonal foliage. This series was inspired from studying ikebana or kadล (่ฏ้“, the way of flowers)—the art of floral arrangement considered one of the three classical Japanese arts of refinement along with kลdล (้ฆ™้“, the Way of Fragrance) or incense appreciation and chadล (่Œถ้“), the ritual of the tea ceremony, and taught the artist to respect and work with Nature, selecting bounty over beauty.

Tuesday 16 April 2013

honey-comb hideout continued or pesticides versus pollinators

Correspondence leaked to Corporate Europe Observatory suggests the furious extent of the lobbying campaign on the part of at least two major chemical and pharmacological concerns against a proposed ban of substances that may be responsible for the widespread decline in the bee population.

Although might be several other likely culprits behind colony-collapse, from parasites, cellular masts to genetically modified crops, and the verdict is not final, British and French field research seems very conclusive that even trace amounts of the pervasive pesticide have devastating effects on beneficial insects. There is currently a moratorium on such treated crops, introduced ab ovo, as seeds, and lingering in the mature plant with the same deleterious effects. The leaked litany of contraindications from the business-sector try at various angles, blaming the farmers for overdosing, badly skewed studies that insist agriculture cannot survive otherwise, and even that the EU is being held ransom by a lobby of hobby apiarists hell-bent on protecting their past-time. Industry pressure may convince European Union member states to rescind the ban and ignore stern warnings and grave consequences.