Thursday, August 20, 2015

How Fast Can a Rabbit Run?


How fast can a Rabbit run – and how far can they leap? Well - pretty darn fast and far. Caught on a Bushnell Trail Camera - After a quick warm up lap this wild Appalachian Cottontail in the Great Smoky Mountains makes two amazingly fast passes and leaps in front of the camera including a classic “burnout”.  Even slowed down to 1/8 normal speed at the end the rabbit is still a blur! Not sure what real or imagined threat the rabbit is running from. Gray foxes that live here are said to be as fast as the rabbits, reaching speeds of 40+ mph, but I might put my money on the Rabbit.

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How Fast Can a Rabbit Run?


Squirrel Bot Fly Larvae Parasite Development


Eastern Gray Squirrel with Bot Fly larva parasite progress report. Update from previous video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrY9YVE61Pg
He is doing better and should fully recover with plenty of water and food - his activity level and overall appearance is good. A few other squirrels have two or three bot fly "warbles" and are also hanging in there. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orx-xLZrry0
Gray squirrels are often infested by one or a few larvae. The large, fluid-draining warbles are often surrounded by patches of bare skin, and appear rather gross. However, an otherwise healthy adult host with access to adequate food and water probably can tolerate at least four to five of these insects with little obvious effect on its behavior other than stimulating efforts to scratch the warbles. But, at higher infestation levels (squirrels with 10 or more larvae have been observed) and in situations where there is a scarcity of food or water, or if the host is an infant, pregnant or nursing infants, these parasites can be harmful. For example, a heavily infested squirrel may become weakened and more vulnerable to predation, a fatal bacterial infection may set in, or a mother squirrel may experience a diminished milk supply leading to the death of her nursing offspring. With gray squirrels, the larvae often are found in the upper torso, although they may occur on the head, limbs and most other areas of the body except the tail.

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Squirrel Bot Fly Larvae

Squirrel Bot Fly Larvae

Squirrel Bot Fly Larvae


Hummingbirds Fight Yellow Jacket Hornets



Ruby Throated Hummingbirds versus Yellow Jacket hornets at the nectar feeder. Besides fighting each other the hummingbirds have to contend with a few hornets who have claimed the nectar feeder and are vigorously - and quite successfully - defending it. When you watch the actions of the hornets it certainly gives the impression of intelligence and strategy. Sad to say the hummingbirds - which are birds with attitude after all - have been dominated by Bumblebees and Butterflies in the past so the hornets running them off is not too surprising. But despite all the battle they manage to get a drink of nectar in now and then. See also Hummingbird versus bee:
Hummingbird versus butterfly:
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Hummingbirds Fight Yellow Jacket Hornets


Flesh Flies Mating



Flesh Flies (Sarcophaga haemorrhoidalis) mating. Much larger and striking in appearance compared to the common housefly. Generally beneficial in nature the Red-tailed flesh flies are considered opportunistic feeders on carrion and human and animal waste. They are also a high protein food source for birds - especially the Great Crested Flycatchers. They play an important role in decomposition and are rarely a problem around humans if proper sanitation is practiced. They occur everywhere in the wild even in the remotest areas. Near wild areas like where this video was taken they usually occur in very low densities and are rarely seen and have little impact on humans and pets, but will find all animal carcasses and begin the process of decomposition. Sarcophaga haemorrhoidalis is particularly important to forensic entomology as it can be the first, or one of the first, arthropods to arrive at a corpse. The species is a strong flyer and has the ability to fly in inclement weather when other arthropod species are unable to fly. Sarcophaga haemorrhoidalis is most often associated with corpses found inside buildings, especially in the summer months in southeastern United States. 

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Flesh Flies Mating


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Helping Squirrels With Bot Fly Parasites


A new Backyard Squirrel has a nasty Bot Fly "warble" on the back of his neck. Many squirrels are suffering from this parasite in mid-summer - a little help from humans will improve their chances. Although painful to see them suffer they will all likely survive this seasonal malady. I discuss some ways to help them through this. See my previous mini-documentary on Squirrel Bot Flies at:
Give them plenty of food and water and moral support! Detailed information can be found at:
Watch for a special appearance by the head of the Backyard Watch Program!

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Helping Squirrels With Bot Fly Parasites

Fascinating Fire Ant Meditation



Fascinating, relaxing Nature Meditation. A Colony of Red Fire Ants is expanding - an army of ants is on the move. Contemplate over 30 minutes of approximately 40-50 thousand ants moving both ways across your screen in HD. Watch mathematical patterns and social roles unfold before your eyes, try and make sense of their complex society or just relax and watch their intricate interactions. Why do only a few out of thousands actually pick up and carry the poison bait? What are the ants up to - what are they talking about - will they take over the earth? Seriously though, they are fascinating - and dangerous to humans and animals. Red imported fire ants have been reported to reduce ground-nesting populations of rodents and birds. In certain instances, the RIFA may completely eliminate ground-nesting species from a given area. Because there is a 10 to 20 year lapse before reductions in bird populations are observed, it has been suggested that actual effects of the RIFA on animal populations may be underestimated. 

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Fire Ant Army

Thursday, July 30, 2015

False Tick or "Flying Tick" Identification - Mini Documentary



Is it a Tick or not Tick? Ticks carry Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and just the thought of them can spoil a nice day hike or picnic in the summer, but are those bugs with the prominent looking proboscis (long sucking instrument) crawling all over you in the brush real ticks or the common "False Tick" or "Flying Tick? Here is a quick look at the most common bug misidentified as a tick - Weevils - and most commonly the gregarious Poplar Weevil that can infest areas by the thousands in some years and loves to crawl all over your clothes - especially bright colors.
More information on Poplar Weevils:
More information on Tick Identification:

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Song Sparrow Singing its Song


Song Sparrow calls its song from the top of an Arborvitae. An attractive and cheerful bird it will brighten your day. There is probably a Song Sparrow nest nearby but I haven't found it. Last years nest can be seen at:

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Song Sparrow Singing its Song

Mourning Dove Coo Call


Classic Mourning Dove Cooing call. This Mourning Dove sings its song from a power pole for awhile. If you listen carefully you will hear another distant Mourning Dove calling in between his calls - not sure if they are communicating. Although not particularly loud - the call carries for a long distance. The sound comes from the puffed up lungs and the Dove puts its whole body into the call. You will also hear at least half a dozen other birds calling at the same time - notably an Eastern Towhee that is always showing off and cramping the understated Dove's style!

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Mourning Dove Coo Call

Squirrel Bot Fly Parasite - Mini Documentary


May be disturbing to some viewers.
Gray Squirrels in the Backyard are again afflicted with the larvae of the naturally occurring parasitic Bot Fly. Often mistaken for tumors or squirrel pox it is instead the large "warbles" caused by the Bot Fly and for the last two years it has become a summer phenomena in the Florida Backyard. There are approximately eight Backyard squirrels at any given time and nearly all will get at least a few larvae. Although painful to see them suffer they will all likely survive this seasonal malady. Give them plenty of food and water and moral support! Detailed information can be found at:


Squirrel Bot Fly Parasite