Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Montreal Bans Controversial Pamela Anderson Ad.

Pamela Anderson's latest PETA ad that was banned in Montreal
Yes, always trust PETA to come up with the most controversial and eye-catching animal rights advertisement campaigns ever! Their latest ad, which features Pamela Anderson in a bikini with various animal bodyparts drawn on her skin was deemed sexist and banned in Montreal. Pamela spoke out on the ban with the following statement:

"In a city that is known for its exotic dancing and for being progressive and edgy, how sad that a woman would be banned from using her own body in the political protest over the suffering of cows and chickens."
Now, I may not be a vegetarian myself but I say, you go girl!

Dude!!! There's a Lizard in My Cake!

Dude! There's a lizard in my cake! D=

This little lizard found a lucky meal in some leftover Tiramisu I had lying around the table. In fact she was probably so intoxicated on the brandy that was in the cake I could not get her to leave! No matter how loud a thump I made! Oh well...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Swallowtails in Flight

Hmmm there seems to be some problem with the sound (it skips at about 40 something seconds) but otherwise check out this latest video I made of my latest butterfly. Also, I found this rather cool video of a swallowtail butterfly in flight done in slow motion. Different species, however as this is a Jakou-Ageha (Byasa Alcinous) from Japan.

"Like many other members of the insect world, the lift generated by butterflies is more than what can be accounted for by steady-state, non-transitory aerodynamics. Studies using Vanessa atalanta in a windtunnel show that they use a wide variety of aerodynamic mechanisms to generate force. These include wake capture, vortices at the wing edge, rotational mechanisms and Weis-Fogh 'clap-and-fling' mechanisms. The butterflies were also able to change from one mode to another rapidly"

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Eclosure of a Swallowtail Butterfly *photo sequence*

Hey guys!

It's been almost a week since the parental units left for their second honeymoon in Sydney, Australia and it will be about a day or so before they return. In the meantime, I've had a taste of what it would be like "holding the fort" all on my own and let me tell you, without someone there to prepare your meals for you all the time well... let's just say its very tempting to resort to a less-than-balanced diet by eating out and snacking off instead! Guess whose having pizza (again) for dinner tonight!!!

Anyway another one of my common mormon chrysalids eclosed today, was really happy to see it but its a pity that it was (yet again) another male which means I still don't have any females with which to breed them. No matter he's such a beautiful specimen and I am particularly fond of this species (mostly because it is relatively easy to breed but also because of the lovely tails on their hind wings)
These are two of my un-hatched chrysalids. The Common Mormon Swallowtail
 chrysalis on top the lower one belongs to a Lime Swallowtail.

Common Mormon chrysalis about to eclose. I love photographing chrysalids
at this stage of their development. It shows you the butterfly all snug and
waiting for its time inside its cradle.

And the moment arrives! With just the slightest, almost inaudible, cracking sound the top of the
chrysalis splits open and the butterfly tastes for the first time, the sweet scent of air.

He wriggles about and works his legs, head and antenna free, knowing for the first time
in his life, what it is like to see and visually sense the world around him.

Carefully, the butterfly hoists himself out of the chrysalis. His wings are still damp and limp from his two weeks
of incubation and so he uses his legs to crawl to a high ground to avoid predators but also
to ensure that the tools of his survival will properly develop in this crucial stage.

As he hangs from his chosen perch, seemingly motionless, his heart begins to pump blood, or
more specifically hemolymph into his veins, stretching his wings out to their full extent.
As his wings reach their full capacity, he begins to open and close them. Carefully making sure that each
wing will function the way it is supposed to. Eventually the veins in his wings will harden and form
the skeleton that is the wing-frame and he will be able to fly and fullfill his destiny,
from flower to flower, garden to garden.

All in all a succesful eclosure and I am very proud of my little-one for coming this far! Indeed, it doesn't matter how many succesful eclosures I witness, each one still brings the same ammount of joy and pride to my heart! Unfortunately, because it is a rather damp and rainy day today this one will have to stay indoors and feed (for now) upon my home-made mixture of butterfly nectar until tomorrow comes.

Feeding from my butterfly-feeder
The proud father to a new-born butterfly :D

Moths of Chiangmai

Hey guys!

I suppose I've been putting this off for quite a long while already but earlier this year (though not too much earlier) I made a trip to Chiangmai, Thailand with a bunch of students from Monash University's faculty of Arts and Social Sciences to document the culture, tradition and social struggles of the people of Chiangmai. Needless to say the trip was as enlightening as it was entertaining. Besides visiting some of the NGOs...
Visiting with the saucy ladies of EMPOWER, a sex-worker organization
I also had the opportunity to sample a bit of the sights and smells that come together to make Chiangmai as exotic as it is!  

From partying it down at the local nightclubs

To being shown around by the awesome locals! That's my awesome Thai friend Kampoo,
or as she'd like to be known Charmjulie! Its thanks to her that I really got to explore Chiangmai
and see it through the eyes only a local can show. 

I even managed to muster enough courage to try some of the more "exotic" of the local cuisines...something I would not normally dare do! (I'm extremely squeemish when it comes to strange foods!)
Creepy Crawly Munchies!
These little creepy crawlies are called Bamboo Worms. In actual fact they are the larvae of the Crambidae that is a large group of moths known as grass moths, so called because of their fondness for sitting with their wings folded, almost inconspicuous upon blades of grass.
To be honest, they don't actually taste half as bad! The best way to describe them would be...pressed peanuts, or maybe peanut butter although, some of the others who tried the worm swore that they tasted like fried shrimp, possibly because I dusted them with salt beforehand to remove that wormy smell. One thing I should mention though, I found out much later from Kampoo that the locals don't really eat these, its just a big scam for gullible foreigners and tourists like myself!

But speaking about moths, there's no place like Chiangmai for wildlife! Indeed the setting of our inn, the Your House guesthouse seemed to be the perfect location for a lepidopterist, such as myself, to look out for the local butterflies and moths. While the butterflies were plentiful during the day, they could not stand up to the multitudes of moths that just swarmed the veranda and corridor outside of my apartment everynight.
A snout moth, probably from the same family as one of those larvae that I ate.

Okay I'll be level, I've never seen most of these moths, much-less be able to identify them! If anybody could help me with the identification it would be much appreciated! Indeed the wild has no trouble making itself known here, on one night I even came face-to-face with a rather scary visitor; An Asian Forest Scorpion (Heterometrus longimanus) that was larger than my palm only to be told that the rain would draw a LOT more of these guys out of hiding!

But indeed, Chiangmai really was the place to be, a perfect blend of nature and civillisation that truly made it an amazing trip! Thanks once again to the awesome locals, Charmjulie, Joe, Jutha and Kwan for showing me around for the entire time I was there.

I'm very fortunate to have loved something deep enough to miss it hard enough

Friday, November 26, 2010

Wings of Paradise pt. 2

Hey guys!

Just a quick update! I came up with a new necklace design for my Wings of Paradise Butterfly Jewellery collection. Basically instead of laminating the wings, the new design consists of a butterfly wing (and its scientific name) encased within two slabs of hard plastic that have been hand-sealed with a lighter and a small blade. The inspiration was to go for a "scientific" look, kinda like the slab of glass you encase specimens in to view under a microwave. Check it out.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Birds of a Feather

The runt of my flock, Angel looks much healthier since being transferred into the aviary. Note how brilliant his feathers look as he preens, carefully rubbing oil from a gland near his tail to spread onto his colorful feathers.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day in the Life

Ever wondered what it would be like, living a day in the life of a butterfly? Well, I sure do, and I don't exactly know the answers, but I made this short video clip as an intepretation on what it might be like. It seems to me that butterflies are always travelling, they never stay in one place for too long, almost like they are on a long journey that they will never complete in their short lives. Anyway. Enjoy. :)

A Prickly Situation

In almost any souvenier shop you go to, in most parts of the world, I am sure you have come across display cases containing butterflies. Indeed these butterflies, which have been dread, spread out and then stuck up onto pieces of cardboard with little pins make wonderful pieces of decoration for any household. But for the amateur lepidopterist, to capture, preserve and display butterflies in such a manner has always been some sort of mark of proficiency; a living (pun-intended) testament if you may, of all the butterflies you have ever seen, observed, studied and collected in the field. As an amateur lepidopterist myself I have always come up with the interesting dilemma or question “to pin or not to pin?” one that I think I will share here.

Insect taxidermy has a long history of popularity with many amateur naturalist for many reasons. For one, insects are a lot easier to hunt/collect than say, birds or larger mammals, and a second reason is that they are fairly easy to preserve and keep in good condition with minimal costs and chemicals. Add that with the natural beauty of butterflies and I suppose it is quite easy to see why the mounting of butterflies is so popular amongst many, from the seasoned entomologist to young children chasing after butterflies in Japan. Indeed I will dare wager that the practice is so spread and popular that you can ask any different lepidopterist on “how to get tihngs done” and he or she will probably have a different or preferred method of preserving butterflies that they can share with you. One lepidopterist who approached me was quite elaborative on the subject.

“When you catch the butterfly, be sure to squeeze it really hard and quick between the thorax. That should kill it nice and good! But with the bigger butterflies, remember to give it an extra pinch while you're at it because the squeeze only stuns some of the larger ones...”

Rather graphic, isn't it? And I suppose it sounds rather cruel as well but I googled it up and I actually learnt that it is the most “human” way to kill a butterfly as the pinch would kill it almost instantaneously and is practiced by most lepidoterists around the world. I definitely wasn't ready to do that, and yet I was also interested and curious at the same time on the methods of butterfly taxidermy that he was also kind enough to share with me. Fortunately for me, I also breed butterflies and once they have lived out their natural lifespans I collect their corpses (morbid, I know) and use their wings to make fine jewellery pieces. As such I had a box of dead butterflies just lying around that I could practice on. I decided to use the biggest (easier to see = less accidents)
Grave of the Butterflies
 Unfortunately, I hadn't counted on rigor mortist. When butterflies die, their bodies go stiff (much like the bodies of other animals) and it gets very difficul to spread their wings out without breaking them. Fortunately for me, my dear lepidopterist acquaintence had an answer to that as well“If your butterfly was already dead when you found it, put it in a cardboard box and then place it above a container lined with damp tissue paper. Put some insecticide on it to prevent infestation and then place it in an airtight place for a week. Your butterfly should be all soft and pliable and ready to set then” Now, I suppose this is why many lepidopterists prefer to catch their specimens and kill right before they are due to be set. It definitely saves up on the time but...oh well. Unfortunately for him I was never one for patience and one week was a little long so I decided to proceed with my butterfly anyway. And yet, the wings still posed quite a problem. The butterfly had died in a rather awkward pose and the position of the wings would just simply not allow me to set it properly, or at all. I decided to try a new technique of my own. Gripping the butterflies thorax between my thumb and fore-finger I slowly “massaged” the butterfly. Now, I'm really not sure if butterflies have joints the same as humans do but that little “massage” I did worked somehow and I managed to spread out the butterflies wings a little.
My Elastic Insect Catcher net, which is as good as new its still in its packaging

And then came the hard part. Sticking the necessary pins in. Now I tell you, and you may call it hypocritical of me, but though I have removed the wings off of countless of butterflies for my line of butterfly-wing jewellery I could barely bring myself to impale one with a pin. And I suppose it didn't even matter that these were butterflies that I had bred, fed, taken care of and had died at ripe old ages of natural causes either. It didn't matter that I had not caught it from the wild, killed it untimely and now wanted to display its corpse up on the wall, it was just difficult. I managed, of course, eventually and not without my finger trembling uncontrollably and what I'm sure takes mere seconds for most lepidoterists, I achieved in about half an hour, and here it is;
There's really nothing quite as unsettling as sticking a needle into the heart of a butterfly

The following then proceeded with the long (and tiresome) process of setting the butterfly, curing it with insecticides and framing it for display which (thank God for small mercies) I shall not bore you with here. What I do want to end with though is the appraisal I recieved from my lepidopterist acquaintence on the results of my endeavours. They were not good, I'm afraid and he believed strongly that there was nothing quite like preserving a butterfly which you have just killed by your own hand.

"Its really quite easy. And you breed butterflies too, which means you're never short of specimens! Just catch the ones that you do not release for breeding and use them! You pick out the females who have mated, pinch them on the thorax to kill them and then squeeze out the eggs for you to hatch and raise! It's really that simple!"

And I will tell you the same thing I told him, and that is thanks... but no thanks. I guess there are just many kinds of people out there. The kind who enjoys butterflies in the wild and the other who catches and preserves them, and while it is not my place to pass any value judgements on the latter, I guess there are just some lines this lepidopterist is not willing to cross and for now I like my caterpillars alive, my butterflies flying, and my specimens to have died-of-natural-causes.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Butterfly House V.2.0

The netted butterfly house was getting a little bit much of a hassle to Maintain. First of all, caterpillars eat a lot and that means they poop a lot too, and since caterpillars are really tiny their... leavings tend to be quite miniscule as well. This means that they get trapped in all the little crevices (especially the lining) of the netting which can be quite difficult to clean... and while caterpillar poop generally does not smell (Thank God for small mercies), leaving them in there could cause fungal growth which may be harmful to the insect larvae so out it was, with the netted breeding pen and in with a more conventional plastic terrarium. The new Butterfly House is basically a large (about 2 by 1 feet) plastic terrarium, the kind you can get in most fish stores, that I have inverted to stand on its side so as to give it more height.

Butterfly House V. 2.0
As you can see there really is nothing to it. The bottom of the terrarium (that was once the side) is lined with newspaper, just so it looks neater and is easier to clean as well and I have placed the stem clippings (with the butterfly larvae growing on them) in a little jar filled with damp cotton balls (something I overlooked in the earlier butterfly house) as this will keep the clippings fresh for days on end meaning that I have to cut a lot less from the plants. They are placed on a little wooden pedestal for elevation and to make it easier to look at.

Suspended Chrysalids
If you noticed in the earlier picture, I have also suspended the butterfly chrysalids from the top of the terrarium. For some reason or other the caterpillar larvae prefer to create their chrysalids along the front-side of the butterfly house. Unfortunately, this (the red wall) is also the door of the enclosure and as I open and close it on a daily basis to add new clippings, remove old ones and check on the remaining caterpillars I feared that my constant ministration might disturb the chrysalids in this dormant stage of their lives. As such I have moved them to the roof by carefuly picking off the silken pad to which the chrysalis is attached to, and then gluing it with organic starch to the top.

Filming a Butterfly Eclosure
The best part of it all is, of course, that I can fit my entire camera in there with its tripod stand which makes for easier filming!

Objects in mirror may be less attractive than they appear!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

For the Birds

Hey guys!

Just in case you do not know, it is not just butterflies that I'm into, but birds as well! There's nothing quite as wonderful as the sound of a bird singing or chirping on a sunny morning or even the sight of birds as they take wing! A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of becoming a bird owner myself, the untimely  arrival of four budgies (with an interval of a couple of months in between each budgie) to my Garden right before a particularly violent thunderstorm though still unexplained, marked the beginning of my love with budgerigars and small parakeets! Budgies make some of the best pet birds out there, they are small, friendly, easy to handle, pleasant to look at and they make the most pleasant of noises (something in between a chirp and a warble). However because I have never really had the time to do anything about it before, my first four budgies have been living in medium sized cages for the better part of two years which, is really quite a shame because there really is not much room in those cages for the birds to stretch their wings and fly!

As such, in my current state of post-graduation/unemployment/waiting for Honours offer, I decided to make myself useful around the house and build a medium-sized aviary, or flight cage for my budgies! Now, i think there's nothing really that quite adds the same ammount of charm and natural-vibe to a Garden than a beautifully home-constructed aviary. Now, if you're a bird-enthusiast or a gardener yourself, you might find my following step-by-step guide rather useful.

1. Location
Of course, to build an aviary you must first have a house with enough land/garden space to do it in. Of course, depending on where you live, and the size of your aviary, you might have to get a permit as well. It is really important to plan these things (especially if your aviary is going to be large) as you do not want to upset the neighborus or infringe any property laws with your little hobby. Once, you've gotten that out of the way, you must consider the location of your aviary. Ideally, it should be someplace that is sheltered from direct rain and sunlight and, depending on what kind of birds you are rearing, free of draught as well.

2. MaterialsMost of the materials to build an aviary you can find at most hardware stores. Here's a list of the items I used and their prices

8x 2m Wood ~ RM54.40
8m Wire Netting ~ RM38.00
Nails ~ RM5.40
Wire Cutter ~ RM40.00
Hammer and Saw ~ *borrowed*

Which means that I have spent, in total, about RM137.80 on this aviary (excluding petty expenses) which, all in all is still cheaper than buying a flight cage of this size from a pet store (I checked it to be about RM400++).

3. Let's get to building!Okay, so once you've got all the materials you need, its time to build yourself an aviary! First things first measurements! Its really important that you measure everything and cut them beforehand, number one, because things are just less messy that way and number two, it really helps you keep with the plan you had in the first place. For me my aviary measures about 1meter by 0.5meters surface area with an 1.8 meter height.

After measuring the wood and cutting them up, I nailed them together to make the two main frames of the aviary leaving a little bit of extra wood at each corner to later build the width wall of the aviary

The two main frames of the aviary
Once you've got the two frames up and ready you can place them next to each other to see if they are of the same size. If they are not, carefully knock one of the pieces of wood in the opposite direction until the nail comes loose and you can start all over again. Its important to do  this because you won't want to have started building in the supporting frame of the aviary only to find out that one corner is lower/higher than the other. 

The finished "skeleton of the aviary"

When you're sure that they are of the same size, place them one in front of the other, with the space in between them being the desired width of your aviary. Get your measured and pre-cut piece of wood and nail it between the frames, in the space between the two slots of extra wood from earlier. The end product should look something like the one above. When this is done, you can begin measuring and nailing the wire netting into the empty spaces. Be careful! Wire netting has a horrible tendency to flip unexpectadly causing grievious scratch wounds and injuries!
When nailing in the wire mesh, I find it best to start at one end and make your way to the other, slowly straightening and nailing down the wire netting to avoid injury and unsightly bulges and bends in the netting. This, I find is a more reliable method than nailing first, the four corners of netting onto your aviary frame as with the previous way, any excess of netting can quite easily be clipped off from the main frame.

Netting that is "just right" for budgies!

When choosing the netting for your aviary, it is extremely important that you get the right one and of the right size. Not any netting you do! Ideally, netting should allow you the best visibility of your birds (what's the point of keeping them there if you can't even see them?) but also be safe for them! It all depends on what species you're planning to keep in there. Just remember, if the bird can put its head through the holes in the netting, it is NOT SAFE and should not be used. When you are done with the walls, you may begin adding whatever fixtures you want into your aviary. Fix in the roof when you are done and then hang the bird-swings from the roof of the cage.
HELP!!! I'm Trapped!
When you're satisfied with the fixtures, nail in the floor of the aviary. I nailed in two layers of wire netting here, one layer lower than the other so that I may place newspapers underneath it to collect the birds'...leavings. When that is done, you may begin constructing the door to your aviary. Many people may wonder why I left the door to last and the answer is that because this was my first time building an aviary I never really thought about it and felt that leaving the door to last would allow me to measure and cut off as much netting as I needed from the walls to construct it. The door I made ended up to be a swing-type door with makeshift hinges and a wooden frame to hold it in shape. I secure the aviary whenever I'm not around with padlocks (I'm sure you can get these most places). Finally you are ready to put in the birds!

When keeping budgies in an aviary its important not to overcrowd! (too many birds and they won't have much space to fly in anyway!) but it is also important not to keep to little of them. Budgies, I find, tend to get very territorial when there are too few of them around, the ideal number of birds is 6. So on my way purchasing cuttlebone (good fo calcium) and water bowls, I also brought back two more additions to the family. Cumulus and Nimbus!

Cumulus, the new female to the flock

Nimbus, the albino male.

True enough after I put these two in, I put the other four as well and flocking behaviour began almost instantaneously. Even Tweety, who is the gangster out of my four birds (extremely territorial and what not) took to the flock immediately even going as far as sharing food with the rest (something which he almost never does, except with his mate). Safety in numbers and what not I suppose.

Family photo: (from left to right) Angel, Sparkle, Tweety, Polly, Cumulus and Nimbus

Now, many people may find the idea of a flight-cage rather hypocritical. Some might even say, "if you like birds to fly so much, why don't you just release them into the wild?" Well, that is a very dangerous assumption to make. Pet birds are very much like any other pet out there. They are used to human comforts, being taken care of, being served their food and even - to an extent - imprinting psychologically and emotionally upon their human caretakers. To release these birds into the wild would be as irresponsible as throwing your unwanted pets out onto the streets! What's more, because these birds are not native to our ecosystem, on the off-chance that they actually survive the wild and establish feral populations, there is simply no telling what effect these populations will have on local animals and wildlife.

Personally I believe that keeping birds as pets can be as rewarding as any other pet, be it hamster, rabbit, dog or cat but as with any other animal, a bird is a living thing and not just a pretty ornament for your home. Treat them well and with love and more importantly (for those of you who keep exotic species of animals) make sure you obtain them legally and from a licensed breeder. Happy holidays!!!

Well he's got all the money in the world but there's just one thing he cannot buy... a dinosaur!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

More than just a "Sleeping Bag"

More than just a "sleeping bag"
Today I would like to talk about a rather interesting period in the life cycle of a butterfly, the pupal stage. A butterflies' pupa is called a Chrysalis and in this stage people generally believe (mostly from what we have read as little children, books and cartoons such as  the Very Hungry Caterpillar for example) that the caterpillar goes through a stage of stasis where it spins a "sleeping bag" of sorts for itself and hibernates until it is ready to emerge as an adult butterfly. While this is generally true, the pupa, or chrysalis, is in actual fact not just a "sleeping bag" for the insect but the actual life-form itself. While it is true that the caterpillars of many moths spin a silken casing around their pupas to protect them during incubation, this casing is known as a cocoon and must be differentiated from the actual pupa inside. The chrysalis of a butterfly is basically the one stage of the butterflies life cycle, between caterpillar and adult where it just happens to do not a lot of moving.

Some interesting facts about butterfly chrysalids

1. The chrysalis IS the butterfly and not just a protective shell within which the caterpillar rests as it transforms into a butterflyNow this is a common misconception many people make and something I always remind juniour lepidopterists. Think of the chrysalis as the insect itself. Insects grow through a series of skin-changes called molts (think snakes!). When the caterpillar has eaten enough it molts its skin as it grows into a larger one. The chrysalis is the caterpillar molting into a stasis stage before it metamorphs into a butterfly. Reminder to children, you CANNOT cut open a chrysalis to watch the butterfly growing inside, that would be like sticking a knife into the butterfly and bleeding it to death! Some caterpillars, however do spin a silken case to protect their chrysalids but this case is called a "cocoon" and must not be confused with the chrysalis itself. To clear this up I've prepared the following video.

As you can see, after the caterpillar molts into a chrysalis, before the skin of the chrysalis stiffens, it does quite a lot of moving. This is because that is in fact the insect that will eventually turn into a butterfly (if you look at it up close you can actually see the developing wing discs, eyes, palps, antenna and legs)

2. The word Chrysalis comes from the Greek χρυσός (chrysós) for goldNormally one would think that a Chrysalis, as a period of stasis in the butterfly's life-cycle, would remain hidden or camoflauged with its surroundings to prevent detection from predators. And while this is essentially true with some chrysalids (those of the swallowtail butterflies for instance that are often brown if formed in dry seasons and green in wet seasons) many butterfly chrysalids are in fact gold, or golden in colour.

Shiny little devils aren't they? But the sheen of the chrysalids fade away to nothingness once the butterfly has emerged. No one really knows why some species of butterflies employ this beautiful but potentially dangerous (to the butterfly as it will more likely be spotted by predators) method of chrysalis but I think that the light reflecting of the shiny surfaces could perhaps mimic the way light reflects off water droplets on the leaves and perhaps deter predators by blinding them as they approach the chrysalis from certain angles.

Have a pleasant november!

"You will always find the single grain of sugar in the salt-shaker that is I"

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cough cough wheeze wheeze

Been terribly sick lately which kinda sucks since exams just ended and I really wanna be out there having fun... although in retrospect I suppose it would suck even more to be sick during exams and HAVING to study instead of rest and convelesce at my own time. I can't help feeling guilty though because I haven't been spending quite enough time with the parental units lately and the closest interaction I got with my mother today was when I went to take some medication from her... I suppose I could always make it up to them by going out someday for dinner or something. On a separate note I've given up fixing my main desktop computer (where my scanner is attached to) which is unfortunate because I have a lot of pictures I want to share with you but I guess for now a picture of a picture will have to suffice.

Latest sketch of one of my babies

Okay so the picture quality is not that great but let's be frank the light in my room has been a little bit dimmed as of late and I haven't really taken the time to change it, I guess I do sort of like the dimmness of the light and the low warm orange glow, helps set the mood you know. Mood for what, God only knows. Anyway I have the original photo of the butterfly (upon which this sketch was based) that I took during the daylight hours before releasing it into the wild.
Lime Swallowtail Butterfly (P. Demoelus)

Isn't he beautiful? Okay I'll admit the proportions in my sketch are a little bit off but I kinda screwed up with the patterns on the lower wing and had to extend it by coloring it black. Anyway speaking of things I have to do during the holidays I suppose I should start looking for someone to care for the breeding cages while I'm off to Cambodia in December and while I'm at it, figure out exactly what it is I want to do with the rest of my life. Michael mentioned something about a job as an educationist at the Penang Butterfly Farm and I must admit I am rather intrigued. Accomodation seems cheap, transportation provided and the pay is reasonable as well, plus it will be combining the two things I really want to do in life : Butterflies AND Education! Not sure how the parental units will react to that though but we'll see. I guess it also depends on whether or not I get that full-hounours scholarship which will allow me to delay working for just another year....one more blissful year of uni life. You fellow college/uni students out there, quit yer gripping and make full use of the time you have left... then again I suppose the griping is what adds to the charm of university. :)

I'm famous for my motivational skills! Everyone says that they have to work a lot harder when I'm around ;)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Little Pinheads of Joy!

First and foremost, EXAMS ARE DONE! So that means I'm finally saying goodbye to university unless I plan to do Honours of course but still, another chapter, succesfully lived through! On a more depressing note my desktop PC died recently so although I have a couple more butterfly sketches that I want to share here that seems a little bit impossible right now with the non-working-state of the scanner (which is attached to the desktop btw). On another note, CATTERPILLAR EGGS hatched today although, I started of with two but one is nowhere to be seen. Could it be that one caterpillar came out earlier and cannibalized its siblings? I sure hope not but I have read that it has been known to happen... oh dear. Anyway today is going to be a short post because I plan to give myself (and presumably you too) a break and because my camera does not have a good enough MACRO function I've just stolen these caterpillar pics of google.
They truly are something to behold and each caterpillar is less than 3mm when it hatches.
what a small little pinhead of joy!

This is not a competition
...and yet I won anyway

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Evolution or Intelligent Design?

Oh my throat is sooo sore I'm not even kidding! It feels like I swallowed a bucket of acid and then someone sprinkled salt on the remains and then the smell attracted little ants, the tiny red ones which started eating my throat from the inside out! That's how bad it is and I won't be surprised if that's really going on in there! See that's why I love writing, you never have to open your mouth to say a thing...just perfect! But you know what else is new? This new documentary on Butterflies by Illustra Media

Okay so I don't quite agree with some of the things said here and I think that Illustra Media is just using everyone's favourite insect, The Butterfly as a poster-boy for their Christian propoganda of Intelligent Design (no offence intended to Christians). Personally I've always been more of a Darwinian myself and although it is true that the sudden changes in the insects form during the life-cycle of a butterfly is far to sudden to constitute any form of evolution I believe (and I cannot say for sure because I am not a biologist myself) that evolutionary biologists study the evolution of organisms as a whole, and not the individual stages of the organism's physiological maturity! Indeed Intelligent Design will insist that everythign was created in the dawn of time the way they are now and forever more... slightly far fetched even for someone like me in the light of fossil evidence, DNA mapping and carbon dating... However, since I do consider myself rather open minded - and of course this IS a documentary about butterflies - I must say I will take a watch myself before deciding ultimately; Darwinian Evolution or Intelligent Design?

***Metamorphosis is scheduled to be released in 2011.***

i wonder why when people ask you "what three things would you bring with you on a desert island?" no one ever replies, "A BOAT." ... DUH!!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Butterfly Fairy Art

Hello again!!!

So the studying has not really been going so well, I swear Media Text is beginning to seem like the most redundant and uninspired of all my Arts units ever!!! (Although that could perhaps be in part due to my lack of class attendance resulting in the minus of 10% from my overall grade thus reducing my chances of an Honour's scholarship next year *grumbles*). Anyway, speaking of arts, and since I seemed to have rekindled my love for drawing things from Nature again quite recently, I decided to share with you all a series of artworks that I have created over the past few years and while generally this is not an ART blog (more of an online field journal remember?) I suppose the artworks are still rather in keeping with the theme of butterflies and insects... indeed I am proud to present my Butterfly Fairy series! The wings of these fantastical fairies were drawn and colored in keeping with the wings of very real butterflies! Indeed their names were often derived from the latin (scientific) names of the butterfly species. Science and Arts coming together...now there's intertextuality for you! And here they are, for your viewing pleasure

Butterfly Fairy Queen Menelaus (Blue Morpho Butterfly, S. America)

Butterfly Fairy Prince Albescens (Rajah Brooke's Birdwing Butterfly, Malaysia)

Butterfly Fairy Shaman Ornithoptera (Queen Alexandra's Birdwing, Papua New Guinea)

Butterfly Fairy Sorceress Rose (Common Rose Butterfly, most countries in Asia)

Butterfly Fairy Captain Atalanta (Red Admiral Butterfly, N. America)

Butterfly Fairy Healer Eurytides (Yellow Swordtail Butterfly, The Americas)

Butterfly Fairy Hunter Sangaris (Red Heart Butterfly, Africa)

Butterfly Fairy Dancer Kallima (Indian Leaf Butterfly, East, South and Southeast Asia)

And I guess that concludes this post on Butterfly Fairy Art. In other news, my caterpillars have molted through to their fourth instar and I am beginning to suspect that two of them are of Polytes butterflies with more eggs and new arrivals on the way. Now, if only I could get back to studying.

I recall memories of scenes in my old classrooms where teachers would award students with candy/chocolate for good performance. They would have the kids literally clamoring! ... what a bunch of circus animals we were then and I'm not sure if it is really a good method for positive action enforcement in children though... if the system works, why fix it right?

"very good Timmy, now let's see if you can balance that Math textbook on your nose!"