Thursday, July 23, 2009

Spider Mites on Passionvine

Spider mites enjoy plants, damaging the leaves to the point that the leaves die. Once spider mites multiply unchecked on a plant, they look like this photo. Spinning silk webbing, they can cover the plant and can cause the death of the plant. Spider mites are especially prolific in hot dry weather/conditions.

Although the plant above looks fairly undamaged under the mites and webbing, the second photo reveals more of the true story of the true state of the plant.

Spider mites are so tiny that they are hard to see with the naked eye. The problem isn't the size of one mite, however, its the damage that many mites can do to a plant. Reproducing prolifically, it doesn't take much time for these critters to multiply to the point that a plant is killed.

Caterpillars of several butterfly species eat passionvine. Gulf Fritillary, Variegated Fritillary, Zebra Longwing, and Julia butterflies are use passionvine or passion flower as a host plant here in the United States.

Passionvine infested with spider mites start by being unhealthy for the caterpillar. The insects themselves can be eaten with the leaf, the mites' excrement is eaten, bacteria and mold that grows on the mites' excrement is also eaten by caterpillars.

While looking at sick caterpillars that had eaten food that wasn't healthy for them, it makes me wonder, am I altering the quality of my friend's food?

I can spend time with or write to people who I know and we could grow from our visit but if I gossip, I've altered the quality of our visit to the point that it can be poisonous.

I can spend time with or write to people but if I have a bad attitude, am angry without a just cause, am unforgiving, am proud, am selfish, and arrogant, I've altered ... and so forth.

Looking at these spider mites make me want to be more careful so I won't harm others or myself by adding unhealthy ingredients into our friendships and relationships.

Proverbs 18:24
There are “friends” who destroy each other ...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Butterfly Photography - NOT!

Well, you wonder, what does THIS photo have to do with butterflies? (Moaning and groaning) A lot!

After surgery for disc removal and bone fusion, this is my neck for a month. After a month, I go into a soft collar. (Note that I did keep butterflies in my life by adding a soft butterfly scarf for comfort.)

My restrictions are:
~ No work except desk work.
~ Collar on during the day.
~ No strenous activity.
~ No bending over.
~ No lifting anything over five pounds.

It's not hard at all but it is frustrating. Although I still carry a camera everywhere, I rarely take a photo. I can't bend my neck, not supposed to bend over, and keep out of rough wooded territory since I can't watch my feet. If I fall, I could cause enough damage to require the surgery to be redone.

I miss my butterflies and caterpillars. I can't feed caterpillars, collect or release butterflies, take many photos, or take my normal fields and woods walks. I am not able to be on the computer as much as I'd like and I can't read unless I hold a book up in front of my face, causing very tired arms.

While thinking about the restrictions of the collar and wondering if people always had the collar after bone fusion in their necks, I realized that as frustrating as it is, I am extremely thankful for the collar.

I realized my collar protects me. It protects me from instinctive reaction to a childs yell (turn to see if he's hurt), people bumping me in a crowded restaurant, the grandchildren playing ball, and other things that could cause the bone to fuse improperly or for Dr. Lora to have to redo the surgery.

It protects me from myself and from others. It allows my bones in my neck to grow properly.

It protects me in the same way God's 'rules' protect me. It protects me from (1) myself, the old carnal sinful nature that is instinctive in all of us. It protects me from (2) others who may lead me into things that are not healthy for a growing child of God. It protects me from (3) Satan, who is always looking for ways to keep me from growing properly.

The more I thought about my collar and its purpose, the more thankful I became for the loving laws of God. Jesus gave us the two greatest commandments, to love God and to love others. If I truly follow those two laws, I will be protected from many dangers in life.

Matthew 22:36-40
"Master, which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus said unto him, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Helping Hand for a Fallen Butterfly Chrysalis

Sometimes a pupating caterpillar won't attach itself to it's silk pad. In many cases, it falls and dies. But sometimes it falls and lands softly, still intact but unable to hang. Unless it hangs, it will be deformed and will either die as a chrysalis or will be a deformed butterfly.

The chrysalis on the left hung normally and formed a normal chrysalis. The chrysalis on the right didn't hang normally and is deformed. It will not become a normal adult Monarch butterfly.

When we pick up a freshly pupated chrysalis (which is a caterpillar without its skin), we can handle it gently without harming it. Any roughness will break its soft cuticle and it will start to bleed green blood.

Moving the fresh chrysalis is easy as long as it is handled gently. We can turn the chrysalis over and move it from hand to hand. We find the silk pad it had made for itself and to which it should be attached.

It will flip and twist, instinct telling it that it must attach itself to the silk pad. Because it's future life is hopeless unless it is attached to something immediately, we move it to the silk pad and hold it where its black cremaster will touch the silk pad. When it touches the pad, it will wriggle to work the microscopic hooks into the huge multitude of silk loops that make up its silk pad.

Once it has wriggled a few seconds, we can let go and allow it to hang as if it hadn't fallen. In the next short while, it will slowly reshape into the classic normal Monarch butterfly chrysalis shape. In a few hours, it will harden and be safe to touch and move about if needed. The life of that particular Monarch butterfly has been saved.

Sometimes the chrysalis isn't where it is easy to manipulate or the silk pad is too close to another chrysalis. In that case, we use a cotton ball or other item for it to grasp instead of its silk pad.

It grasps but the hold isn't as strong as if it grasps its own silk pad. The strong silk loops are missing. A loose bit of cotton is a adequate replacement but it is not the ideal item for it to attach itself to ... but better than lying down and becoming deformed.

This brings a wonderful feeling of accomplishment. Without our helping hand, these butterflies would have died.

It makes me think of the helping hands I have had in my life. The first one that comes to mind is Jesus, of course. My thanks start with life itself, moves to salvation (forgiveness), to my husband, family, friends, and even for many strangers!

2 Corinthians 9:15
Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.

Ephesians 5:20
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

Colossians 3:17
And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

1 Thessalonians 5:18
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Hebrews 13:15
By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

(Text taken from

Monday, July 6, 2009

Dogbane and Starvation

dogbane and milkweed
Monarch caterpillars need milkweed. The only plant they can eat and grow into healthy Monarch butterflies is milkweed.

dogbane and milkweed
There is one plant that resembles milkweed so much that people will cut it to feed to the caterpillars they are raising indoors. That plant is dogbane. The result is starvation. The caterpillars simply will not eat it.

In these photos, the plant on the left if dogbane; resembles milkweed but Monarch caterpillars will not eat it. It takes an experienced eye or an person who has learned in one manner or another to tell the two apart.

Many people have starved their caterpillars to death by giving them dogbane, thinking that they were giving them milkweed.

It started me wondering. Have I 'starved' myself by not feeding on the spiritual equivalent of a Monarch caterpillar's milkweed?

What should I feed upon? Have I left something out?

After going through surgery last week with instructions not to ride in a car for a certain amount of time, I wasn't able to go to church Sunday. Without mentioning it to me beforehand, my husband brought home communion for me. He did this years ago when I was unable to go to church back then for a few weeks.

No, I wouldn't have starved without it but I would have been a bit 'nutritionally' or 'spiritually deficient'.

How wonderful it is to have someone else make sure that I have what I need to eat. With the opportunity to take communion, it would be a serious issue for me and to me if I didn't. I'm thankful for Stephen for making sure I have communion while I can't attend church and partake of communion there.

I thank God for my husband. Tomorrow is our 36th anniversary!

Luke 22:19
And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.