I LOVE this clearwing moth. The raspberry crown borer (Pennisetia marginata) is a Batesian mimic of (I think) Vespula maculifrons and V. pensylvanica, our native yellow jackets. If you’re mildly impressed by the resemblance, you should see them in flight or walking around a leaf. They have completely nailed the cocky, jerky yellow jacket attitude. I can’t seem to find a video to link to, but this is a related species. If you live near a big patch of raspberry or blackberry, go look for them right now … they are out mating and laying eggs.
Category Archives: Gardening
During my recent trip to Hawai’i I got to wondering how conservation organizations use Instagram to educate the public about invasive species. A quick search pulled up several groups that seem involved, at least occasionally, and I’ll list here just in case you want to follow them (# followers in parentheses):
- @hisc808 Hawaii Invasive Species Council (96)
- @hawaiidlnr Hawaii Department of Land Natural Resources (250)
- @kauaiisc Kauai Invasive Species Committee (242)
- @koolaupartnership Ko’ola Mountains Watershed Partnership (41)
- @ctahr College of Trop Agric and Human Res (81)
- @bigislandinvasivespecies Big Island Invasive Species Council (11)
- @kaikoa.conservation Kaikoa Conservation (667)
- @hilandtrust Hawaiian Islands Land Trust (926)
- @nature_hi The Nature Conservancy, Hawai’i (197)
- @ntbg National Tropical Botanical Garden (353)
- @waikoloadryforest (3)
- @oahuisc Oahu Invasive Species Committee (101)
- @stoptheant Spot the Ant, Stop the Ant (49)
- @mauinuibg Maui Nui Botanical Gardens (270)
- @conserve_hawaii (255)
- @wmwphawaii Wai’anae Mountains Watershed Partnership (88)
- @islandconservation (126)
Part of my reason for wasting time on the above was because when I posted a photograph of an introduced frog, I wasn’t sure if anyone on Instagram might care. Potentially, there might be a group or two that might want to mentioned, in the off chance that a species hadn’t been noticed at that particular location. Not being a native, I had no idea which groups to mention, though, so all I did was add some hashtags for the species name as well as #invasive #introduced #nonnative … with the hope that somebody might find it useful someday (unlikely). But the process got me wondering how groups use Instagram to get the word out on how to control invasives. Here are some thoughts on how to do it, with apologies to the groups who are already doing it:
- To build buzz about your organization and its goals, repost images of others that show the species you are trying to control. People love to have their images reposted or their accounts mentioned. You can find these images by following people (duh), or by searching Google for Instagram photos with particular keywords (e.g., site:instagram.com coqui kauai). The routine is just this: ask them if it would be OK to be reposted/featured … and then give them credit by including Instagram handle (i.e., don’t just give the photographer’s name).
- If you don’t want to feature other people’s images, at least patrol other people’s posts that relate to invasive species, endemics, restoration, etc. For example, if somebody posts an adorable photograph of a small frog and says, “Love this little guy; going to send to my uncle on Kauai for his birthday!” … you can urge them not to do that. Or, when somebody posts about clearing invasives from property, you can say thanks (and perhaps invite them to a volunteer day if you’re group is local). And it’s not just people making posts about invasives … many companies are active in promoting pono and have thousands of active followers (@southmauispearfishing, e.g., has *dozens* of posts about invasive roi and what to do about them). The more you interact by favoriting and commenting, the more people on a particular island will see your organization’s work as important and worth supporting.
- If your organization has volunteer work days, add an “Instagram name” column to your sign-in sheet. Then mention each person when you post photos from the event (you should do that!). People love to be publicly thanked. Example. Another example.
- In your bio and in your posts, remind folks to tag their own images with #invasive #hawaii (or whatever) and species name so that the posts can help educate their followers. Example. Example. You can also dream up custom hashtags such as #hawaiiinvasive if you want (that’s from @kauaiisc, by the way).
- When you make presentations about invasives at local schools, show your Instragram handle at start and end. Young adults increasingly don’t care about your web site, your twitter feed, or your phone number but you might get them to follow on Instagram.
- Award prizes to people reporting or posting certain kinds of images. People love contests. For example, send some swag to person who posts best selfie with gold dust day gecko (example).
- If you have a Facebook page, add a tab for your Instagram feed. It’s easy. You should also automatically add your Instagram posts to your timeline.
- If you include a phone number in your bio for reporting a particular species, include an area code in case clueless tourists see call to action. Repeat this number in posts, too … because somebody might not bother to visit your actual home page.
- Check Instagram regularly to see whether anyone has posted an image of a species of special concern. For example, you can run a search for “site:instagram.com snake hawaii” to patrol for snake sightings (the search results are mainly Hawaiian shirts with snakes). There used to be several ways to automate such Instagram searches and receive emails … but Instagram blocked them.
- If your organization doesn’t have an Instagram account, fix that.
Here’s a female white-footed mosquito (Psorophora ferox) that I photographed at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Tinicum, Pennsylvania. I’m not a mosquito expert, so my ID is a guess based on its green eyes and purple coloration. That’s a terrible way to identify a mosquito, I’m sure. It’s a female because the antennae are not especially fluffy Males have massive, bushy antennae for sensing the wingbeat noise that females make, which is at a higher frequency than that of males. I’m posting this photograph because it’s National Pollinator Week and few people appreciate the pollination that mosquitoes perform. But we could kill them all and we’d be fine, I’m sure.
I stumbled upon a solitary mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) flower yesterday while walking around Lake Mohonk in New Paltz. It isn’t the prettiest mountain laurel flower, but it was DECEMBER 27th, approximately six (!) months before one would expect a mountain laurel flower in this area. This December has been the warmest on record for the area, I think, and Christmas Eve was almost 70 °F (!!). Crazy, and really, really sad. This flower isn’t alone, apparently — the New York Times has a compilation of strange phenology across the country.
If you’d like to see photographs of prettier mountain laurel at Mohonk, here are photographs I took a few summers ago.
November is Sweet Potato Awareness Month (SPAM), and I do my part by reminding people that yams are something else entirely. As a foodie and an evolutionary biologist, I feel obliged to be a nudge about this. So here are three images to help.
First, a photograph of a white yam (Ipomoea rotunda) in a bin of sweet potatoes.
Second, a photograph of three cultivars of sweet potato (all Ipomoea batatas) next to a yellow yam (Dioscorea cayennensis).
Third, an illustration of how yams and sweet potato are related (they aren’t). As a bonus, I’ve also indicated the position of potato.
Please share this page with your family prior to Thanksgiving dinner. It will be one less thing to bicker about. If you need more details, here’s my “Yams versus sweet potatoes” page. Read it if you want to know why the slave trade caused the whole “yam” confusion problem.