Wednesday, September 19, 2007

An Addendum to "Up close and personal"

Of course and naturally, there is no way to get more up-close with anything than actually eating it. As for insects, Margaret trumped everyone else this week. Pictured here at Chciago 's best Thai place, Sticky Rice, she is partaking of a fluffy and tasty example of Khai jiaw Khai Mod, or ant larvae omelet.

A Northern Thai specialty we ended up all enjoying quite a bit
, it was like having white-colored capers in you omelet. With a little hot chili sauce on top, it is a nice flavor sensation!

Entomophagy is not so popular in North America, but perhaps this lovely formicine dish may light the fire under the feet of the haute cuisine world? If nothing else, it would certainly would make a lot of ecological sense. Are praying mantises as "spicy" as they look? Do ladybugs taste like Tic-Tacs? there is a way to find out...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Up close and personal

Lately I have been spending quality time with bugs. It's autumn and the season is such for Sundays walking in the tall grass, in hopes of catching (literally and figuratively) some of what's left of the insects, before it whole show shuts down for about 5 months.

Me and my entomology class - as well as associate enthusiasts - have been enjoying getting up close and personal with the insects. This includes:

1 -gently cajoling them into containers so not to damage their delicate wings,

2- avoiding the business end of the bigger wasps how who love to sting you in return for their captivity,

3- marveling at their colorful colors and shapely shapes, like alien brocades that move as micro-machines

4- and of course being bitten by mosquitoes.

Being this physically engaged with wild animals is actually pretty rare for most of us, and in the moment, as small as the critter is, it is amazing nevertheless. Birds at the feeder or squirrels in our trash - sure - but in so many ways they are almost domesticated, aren't they? Sure Jon in the photo here is Playing It Up the moment as Christa takes his picture - but how funny it is that he has almost the the exact same expression later in a surreptitiously taken photo of him as we gazes at a wasp he caught. Making contact matters. It isn't the same thing as going to the zoo or petting your cat.

That said, I was taken aback by a photo I recently saw on Reuters website, right below.

It isn't drowning, no. Nor is it a mannequin turned upside down from a shop in a Midwest town during recent flooding. Rather it is a man "noodling."

Let me translate this for you: a person is diving under the murky waters of the river to stick their hand in a submerged log and wiggling their fingers in hopes that a catfish will swallow it. (Or some small variation on this). Once they've swalloed your arm, you've got yourself a meal, with no reel hook or line necessary.

How intense is that?? And just how big would these fish have to be for them to swallow your hand. I fished for catfish - or "hornpout" - all through my childhood in a small pond by my house, but those creatures were about one foot long at most. These catfish on the other hand, are a whole other magnitude of thing altogether. Some photos of this fish caught by this technique tell the story just plain, fine and clear:

Right. so...right. That is just what it is. Naturally YouTube has a videos of this phenomenon.

This video is particularly surreal, but the end moment justifies the wait.

On a related kind of sort of note, the worlds tallest man, a Mr. Xishun Bao (7'9") made news last year for doing something remarkable, and tangentially related to his tallness. He saved a dolphins life by reaching his uber-long one meter (3 foot) arm down its throat into its stomach to pull out some plastic shards making the dolphin ill. Who at China's
Fushun Aquarium came up with this idea? Had they ever been noodling? Of course, you need to see the video of this too.

Granted, and please readers be clear - DOLPHINS ARE NOT FISH. Nevertheless it is hard not to make the connection.

No insect my students are wrassling these days* are big enough to swallow a limb, and for this semester I'd prefer to keep it that way.

*If we were collecting back in the Carboniferous period 300 million yers ago, they story might be different.

Sunday, September 2, 2007


I don't know how you might even pronounce their name, and am not sure how exactly I came across them recently, but OOIOO makes some really wonderful music+image casseroles.

From their song Uma

also Umo

and too Grow Sound Tree