Author Archives: David George Haskell

Arachnid prism: Morning light refracted through a spider’s silk

From Keats’ Lamia: …and, for the sage, Let spear-grass and the spiteful thistle wage War on his temples. Do not all charms fly At the mere touch of cold philosophy? There was an awful rainbow once in heaven: We know … Continue reading

Posted in Arachnida | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

“The fox also shall dwell with the armadillo…”

A few weeks ago, I saw a fox saunter through the woods, then slip into a hole that, judging from the earth piled at its entrance is at least several feet deep. I set up a camera to see what … Continue reading

Posted in Mammals | 15 Comments

Ghosts rise from forest duff

Ghost plant, Monotropa uniflora, is now flowering in shaded woodlands. The species is also known as Indian pipe or corpse plant. Each stem is about finger-high and has a nodding flower at its tip. The plant’s pallor tells the story … Continue reading

Posted in Fruits, Fungi, Plants | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

“Let us now praise famous…” cats

Some feline stories caught my eye this week. They illustrate the important role that domesticated humans have played in the civilizations that cats have built over the past few thousand years. The first tale (a tale not bottle-brushed) comes from … Continue reading

Posted in Cat | 3 Comments

Fireworks echo through cellulose and chitin

I recorded the Sewanee annual firework display at a lookout spot across a mountain cove from the detonations. Before the pyrotechnics, the katydids made my ears ring, but the explosions out-shouted even the combined acoustic power of tens of thousands … Continue reading

Posted in Bioacoustic revelry | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

High water: Buggytop cave.

Last week brought seemingly never-ending rainstorms to Sewanee. The downstream effects were dramatic. Crow Creek, running from the entrance to Buggytop Cave, south of Sewanee, was overtopping huge boulders and engulfing trees. The water here comes from the sinkhole in … Continue reading

Posted in Bioacoustic revelry, Water | 7 Comments

What does a rattlesnake sound like?

This: …before being released from the bucket in which I transported the snake from a friend’s house. One cannot age a rattlesnake by simply counting the rattles (they gain a rattle with each molt, but usually molt more than once … Continue reading

Posted in Bioacoustic revelry, Serpentes | Tagged , | 9 Comments

What Do Snails Think About When Having Sex?

I’m as thrilled as a snail in lettuce that The Forest Unseen‘s hexagonal sex scenes appear in Robert Krulwich’s blog on National Geographic‘s website. He has some fabulous drawings and also discusses Joan Roughgarden‘s work on the evolution of hermaphroditism: … Continue reading

Posted in Snails | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Imagine

…the Occupy movement burns seven corporate offices in lower Manhattan …EarthFirst burns seven GMO research labs …black teenagers burn seven CVS stores …jihadists burn seven suburban shopping malls Media storm. 24/7 coverage of America-in-crisis. National Guard on the streets. Bring … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 29 Comments

Tussock moth caterpillar

A White-marked Tussock Moth (Orgyia leucostigma), one of the more festive of our caterpillars. They have a catholic diet, eating both evergreens and deciduous trees, a feat made possible by their robust gut chemistry. The caterpillars not only use their … Continue reading

Posted in Caterpillars | 2 Comments