Wednesday, December 26, 2012

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Hey ya'll 

The end of 2012 draws to a close and just like that in one month we've lived through several holidays and at least 1 end of the world scare! But the end of the year is for more than just great meetups and the occasional treat, its also about reflecting upon what you've done during the past year and to ponder on some of what you might expect in the coming year. But its still a little too early for that and there are about 5 more days of December for us to do so.  Meanwhile, its Boxing Day and that means time to wrap out all those wonderful Christmas presents from their carefully packaged boxes!!! (seriously though, Boxing Day was traditionally the fascist part of the Christmas tradition where "servants and tradesman would receive gifts from their superiors".. but I digress). Christmas shopping was a little tight this year on account of all the unforeseen expenses during the course of the year but I daresay I managed, somewhat, to get everyone a little something. A shower gel set from The Body Shop for mom... a pendant for my sister... novelty tie for dad,   and so on and so forth.

Of course even my little animal friends were not excluded from the season's festivities! Cookie had his first taste of a Christmas party away from home and though he had more than his fair share of excitement and treats I think part of him must have been yearning for the soft comforts and serenity of his hammock here at home. Ray and I did not exchange presents this year because we were both short on cash after getting gifts for everyone else but we agreed that our trip to Sarawak at the start of next year would compensate in some way for that. I did, however chip in some cash to get him the much anticipated compiled publication of Marvel's Avengers vs. X-Men which he loved very, very much. We  even turned the air-conditioning down real low while we sipped hot chocolate and watched Bewitched pretending that it was snowing outside!

It seems, however, that Christmas was indeed the season for giving as I did receive several gifts this year! Not many, I will admit, but what they lack in quantity they sure made up in terms of thoughtfulness on behalf of the giver. My cousins, for instance, all chipped in to get me this real nifty polaroid camera, and a pack of 10 films!!! I know I will definitely be using these in Sarawak! And my sister got me this little bird toy  which has been re-appropriated by Polly, to whom it bears a striking resemblance to.  All in all it was not the grandest or more extravagant Christmas I've had, but summarily still a very pleasant one.  And I really can't ask for much more this year! I've not always gotten everything that I wanted in 2012, but the things that I'd got were always the ones that really mattered; confirmation from Australia of the candidature of my PhD, tons of animal friends who love me, and of course, another year spent with the people I love.
This year's Christmas Presents were shared with everyone!
"I didn't know you got another bird!!!" Polly.
Merry Christmas one and all!!! 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Skin Crawling

Hey ya'll 

The sight of large, hairy, eight legged creatures often makes most people's skin crawl! But for some of us, there is nothing more fascinating and riveting than watching one of our Arachnid friends crawl out of their skins! Especially when said arachnid is a tarantula! A tarantula molting is a sign that its about to get a bit bigger, and I'm sure all tarantula enthusiasts will agree with me when I say that it is always an exciting moment to know that your little baby is on its way to becoming a majestic and iconic creature!!! Anyway, as I am well aware, not many people share that passion and some who are somewhat interested, may not be ready to actually come face to face with the real thing and so, as always, I feel a need to make this blog a "safe" place where some of the more daring entomophobes/arachnophobes can come by and slowly explore these rather beautiful aspects of their fears. I mean a tarantula, when one thinks about it, is often a ferocious and rather angry looking creature. But when it is molting, it seemingly transforms into a creature quite different from its usual self. Soft, and pink, and vulnerable. Kind of like a baby!

I would also like to give my dearest sister credit for overcoming her fears and witnessing the event live when it happened! You go girl! I suppose prolonged exposure (however indirect) to me and my lifestyle gradually removes all fear of invertebrates from most people ^^


Monday, November 26, 2012

Back again

Hey ya'll 

I've found myself in something of a rut lately. It's not that I have nothing to write about as much as it is I cannot find the motivation to bring myself to put in the effort to sit down in front of my computer and write. It feels like I've come to a point of my life where I've reached a crucial crossroad, and while I stay here preparing myself and mulling about what the future might hold for me once I take the heart-stopping step, I seem to have lost all motivation to do things that was once so routine to me.  I started off by looking back at my life. It's good, I believe, to be self reflexive from time to time. The motivation to start up the blog again came as I was sorting out my insect collection. Some of these damselflies and cicadas I've had spreading for almost half a year now and I finally took the time to remove the tracing paper and place them in their respective boxes. I couldn't help but admire them each as I did so, the venation of the wings, the natural iridescence. It was then that I was reminded about the blog, and why I started it in the first place! Keeping a blog had always been about sharing a part of me with the world. I always hoped, in some small way, that just by passing through someone would come across something that I've written about these  insects and animals which I love, and maybe see things a little differently!   

Coming next, some special moths I've found over the past few days!!! 

Monday, October 1, 2012

These things that I Fear

We all have things that we fear.
For some it is rational, like snakes, spiders, or other "harmful" creatures.
For others it can be quite silly, like balloons or, apparently, certain kinds of shapes. 
For me it is certain kinds of countries. 
More specifically, countries that are located either too high North, or too far South of the equator.
I fear countries where the seasons can change and nature can "die". 
No, seriously. They literally scare the crap out of me! 
I fear that mysterious time of the year, 
when it is said that Hades snatches Persephone from her Mother's arms. 
When greasy claws ply against delicate flesh, 
and all of Nature retaliates by turning away in painful sorrow. 
I grow anxious in the Autumn, when the leaves start to turn, 
when animals start to fly South to warmer parts. 
I grow positively frightened in the winter, when the trees have long died. 
When there are no more birds to sing with, 
or butterflies to chase down flower strewn paths. 
For some, snow is like a delicate veil. A beautiful thing of ice and lace. 
For me it is a shroud. A funeral shroud that masks a Mother's tears.
I fear the Winter. I'm not even joking.
Very early on I swore to myself,
that if i were to ever "move" somewhere that I would not go to such places.
At least here, in the tropics even when I'm "alone", I'm never alone.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A series of lepidopteran surprises!!!

Hey ya'll 

first and foremost, allow me to apologize for my unannounced period of absence. Not that I'm under the illusion that my blog has such a huge following or anything, but it always makes me feel better to apologize. Anyway as you might imagine, things have been getting pretty crazy around here (as they usually are when I fail to post updates here) and I think this is a very good example of one of those instances where you decide that you can handle a bunch of stuff at the start of the year only to realize, later on when they all fall down upon you, what a big mistake that was! Anyway, the worst of this 'hell spell' has somewhat abated and I am very much looking forward to my vacation to Perhentian Island next week! In the meantime, despite the unpredictable weather and incessant haziness, I've been getting a lot of lepidopteran surprises over the week! Beautiful butterflies and moths, literally popping out of nowhere! Talk about a sight for sore eyes! Anyway as I have put off collecting insects for the time being (I know it's probably silly of me but I can't bring myself to do it for the time being after Honey passed) most of these I just appreciated and then let them be on their merry way. But I did find some already-dead ones by the light that I thought might be worth adding to my collection. 

This moth, for instance caught my eye the moment I saw it! Not very big in terms of size but it has the most beautiful striking red abdomen, reminiscent of those you might see in Atrophaneura butterflies. 

This Sphingid moth on the other hand was very much alive when I found it. It was buzzing around with such ferocity that I had to catch it and place it in a container for it to calm down before I could snap a picture (it would have flown away otherwise). Khalid has identified it as Hippotion rosetta and, judging from the splashes of red peeking out from underneath its upper wings, I'm sure you can see why! I really do love Sphingids! They are arguably some of the 'manliest' looking, and yet stunningly beautiful moths one can ever find. 


Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Angel is finally starting to recover. He had enough strength today, even, to step up and take treats offered from my hand. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Loving Lycaenids

Hey ya'll 

The next few weeks are going to be exceptionally hectic!!! Not only are the PhD application dates drawing perilously close, all the activities that I have so "cleverly" spaced out at the start of the year all seem to be falling in "that week" or "another"... more out of necessity than anything and I'm "forced" to get those out of the way as well! To top it all off, another animal under my care has fallen ill. Angel, our budgerigar has been having a case of the runs. He's recovered from them before, but I'm not taking any risk. I've written in to Dr. Jenny for a prescription of anti-diarrhea medication. Unfortunately for all parties involved I can only fetch them on Friday which means... I basically have to make time to get away from my marking and writing to get the medication. Dr. Jenny has also asked for a stool sample... as fresh as possible, so that makes my window a lot narrower. Well, at least I've finally started to find a narrower and more precise focus for my PhD research topic.

With all the mayhem that's been going on though, I am quite glad to report that the lycaenids have started to return!!! Related perhaps to the recent bout of construction work that has been mushrooming all around the campus grounds of late (prompting my initiative to kick-start a butterfly garden/breeding pit stop), Lycaenid numbers had dropped to an all new low and I was beginning to think that many of them would be gone for good! Indeed, for the past 6 months I had been fearing as such. These butterflies rely, after all, on the hospitality of the specific species of ants that hosted them and with all the digging that's been going on... why let's just say I was very much concerned. Apparently, some butterflies are made of much stronger stuff! And of course, their ants too, for I saw today, on a patch of wild flowers, a rabble of these minuscule butterflies! What a wonderful sight! My dearest friend and fellow insect blogger Brittanie McCormack is quite fond of saying that Nature has a way of connecting with those who loves Her, and I truly believe that! But all in all, I'm just so glad to be seeing these guys back here again! Perhaps, in time the other varieties of larger lycaenids would start to return as well. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Butterfly Garden Pre-Activity Outing

Hey ya'll 

Thanks to the efforts of Joanne Tong, Carolyn Tay and the Monash University Green Representative Movement, the Butterfly Garden that I had envisioned could be set up around campus grounds as a permanent breeding spot for our insect friends is finally coming to fruition. But while the administrative body are going about their own way, settling the paperwork and everything else that is required before we can actually begin building and planting this garden, the student volunteers and myself are off to a lot more "fun" things so that we can start to learn more about butterflies, insects, and appreciating these animals in general. This weekend, we had our first "meetup" of sorts, which took place as a short session where I could do what I do best; talk about butterflies. The "outing" was divided into two sessions, a sit-down session and a part where we tried to spot butterflies and their young in the wild and while I must say I had fun getting to know everyone via the sit-down session, it was the spotting them in the wild that really got me going. And here are some pictures courtesy of Miss Nurul Tasnim. 

The weather was not favorable when we set out that day, but fortunately, things began to pick up and the sun started to shine halfway into our walk which in turn started to stir the butterflies. Having just awoken from their temperature induced slumber, many of the butterflies were still quite 'tame' that morning as they went about their way, sipping nectar from the freshly blossoming flowers.

However, while butterflies are quite easy to spot but this is hardly ever the case for their larvae and pupae. Here I think the students are trying their best to spot the spiny caterpillars of the Tawny Coster (acrea terpsicore) on the leaves of the wild-growing passion vines. 
Finally! Our first caterpillar sighting. Can you see it? 
The caterpillars of acrea terpsicore are gregarious, which means they seem to enjoy each other's company.  However, this is only the case with caterpillars from the smaller instars as I've observed the larger ones tend to lead relatively solitary lives before finding a nice spot upon which they can hang and pupate from.
Here. a larger caterpillar hangs on its own as it begins to pupate. This poor fellow was unfortunately attacked by ants before it could finish. We tried saving it, by blowing and brushing as many of the ants off, but the caterpillar began to succumb to the poison from the ant bites and we didn't see any reason to deprive the ants of a meal after that. 
We didn't see much in terms of other butterflies there and were lucky to find this single Peacock pansy (Junonia  almana) fluttering among the flowers. Here I am showing my students the eye spots which give the butterfly its name. 
No worries though! No butterflies or any other animal was harmed in the process of our outing! Here is the very same butterfly shortly after it was released. 
All in all, I think we had a great outing! If there was anything i regretted or wish I could change about it, it would have to be the lack of variety we saw on that day. But I suppose there's nothing to it. We do not control nature, after all. Perhaps for our next trip we should go somewhere a lot more 'wild'. The Ampang Forest sounds like a really good choice! 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Goodbye, my Honey Bee.

Hi all

I had the same dream again this morning. It was a little different. This time it ended with Honey and I holding each other, she nuzzled against my chin, me stroking her hair. She looked at me, gave me a kiss on the cheek and said once again in a mix of English and Chinese; "It's okay daddy. Baby pu yao." I got a call about 15 minutes later. It was Dr. Jenny. Honey had just taken her last breath. Surprisingly, I am holding up rather well. I suppose it was the uncertainty of her situation and the possibility of inadvertently prolonging her suffering that really got to me. I don't know if you are superstitious people, or if you believe that animals even have souls. But I know what I believe, and that is I have always had a very strong connection with my animal friends, what more a friend like Honey whose lived with me and done so many things with me. I really do believe that this recurring dream is a message of sorts. And through that I have found my closure.

My dearest Honey bee, I wish I could tell you again how much I love you. Or that I could stroke your head and tickle your ears just one more time. But I guess it is time for you to go to the Goddess. We may never meet again, but I will feel you now everywhere; in the air that fills my lungs, in the soft wind that ruffles my hair, in every blade of grass that cushions my step, in every flower that brightens my sight. I love you, my sweet little honey bee. Goodbye.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Hardest Decision to Make

Hey ya'll 

I am writing this because I need to "talk" about it. Honey's condition has taken a turn for the worst. She was up all night, crying from pain and irritation and when I checked up on her, was quite astonished to find that the scab on her leg had fallen off. In its place: a gaping wound resembling nothing more than a black, sticky hole. I didn't have to be a veterinarian to know that this was bad news and so I snapped a picture, and sent an urgent email to our Doctor, Jenny. Within the next few hours I had gotten a reply. I had to come in with Honey and the news just gets worse.

From what I understand, based on my limited knowledge on veterinary terminology, Honey has a genetic condition which causes the muscles to deteriorate under the skin. The problem, when it starts, is often unnoticeable and may present itself in signs such as very minor looking wounds, redness, or loss of hair (symptoms which are, incidentally, more commonly recognized as that caused by overgrooming). Indeed, due to the sensation of discomfort under the skin, the glider would indeed exhibit signs of overgrooming or self mutilation such as excessive scratching and biting. Over time, contaminants such as bacteria from the glider's saliva get into the wound and accumulate there exacerbating the process, causing the surrounding tissue to become necrotic. By the time the scab falls off and the owner finds out how serious the condition actually is. Well... In Honey's case, the problem started on her left hip causing weakness in the attached limbs which may also explain how she came to dislocate her ankle in the first place.

According to Doctor Jenny, the problem probably resulted due to an illegal shipment of gliders from Indonesia that were carriers of the rogue gene. The problem itself is quite a recent development and the affected gliders are all likely to be progeny of interbreeding between the Indonesian glider stock, and the local gliders thus contaminating the DNA. I have given consent for Honey's tissue samples to be sent to a lab so that research can be done to prevent, and hopefully event cure the problem. As of this moment, the condition still looks grim and I am told to "be prepared". To be honest, I don't think I can ever "be prepared" for a moment like this. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

One Dream to Change the World.

Hey ya'll 

An old friend, with whom I've admittedly not always seen eye to eye with, posted a message on my Facebook account recently. In it, she told me she experienced a rather lucid dream where she and I were walking down the street. As we made our journey down a nondescript road, she began to realize that something was different around her. The advertisements on all the billboards, the posters plastered in front of all the shops, were catered to non-straight people. And she realized, all of a sudden, that she been suddenly transported into a world where the heterosexual matrix no longer held sway. I suppose it was all so disconcerting to her, and the feeling was all the more compounded by the dream's lucidity, and suddenly she began to understand what it was like to live in a world where she was the obvious minority. Everything that she had taken for granted to apply to "everyone", day-to-day things like advertisements and the sorts of messages/ideologies they carried, are not as "universal" as They would like us to think. 

The dream ended there, or if there was more she did not tell me, but it was eye opening enough to cause her to do something about it. Firstly, to tell me about the dream. But more importantly, to extend a hand of support. She told me she admired my courage, for being who I am, indeed for even just living, in a world that is so much structured in a way that I am not. It cannot possibly be easy. Indeed, it is hardly ever. At the end of the post, she said, "I may not always understand you, or what you are going through. But I want you to know that I am now for you." And that said it all. Because that's what we really want isn't it? We don't need the whole world to understand us, or what makes us tick. Heck I've known my family for my entire life and I still don't know what makes them tick sometimes. What more an entire community! All we're asking for is the same acceptance and community that is extended to everyone else, regardless of race, sexuality, gender, or culture, as fellow HUMAN BEINGS

The post was removed several hours later, despite garnering a flood of "likes" from fellow Facebook users, and when I tried to search for her account to thank her personally, I realized that the following user no longer exists. I don't know what happened, and I could be reading too much into this... but if, for whatever reason this might have happened, I would just like you to know; that I may not always understand your point of view, or are able to accept all you have been taught to believe. but I want you to know that I am for you, and other's like you. People like you make it possible, for people like us to be courageous. People like you help make things a lot easier, make us feel a lot less scared. But most importantly, people like you give us Hope; the most powerful thing anyone can have in the world. Hope for a better future, Hope for a brighter tomorrow, Hope of acceptance, Hope that all our dreams and ambitions are more than just that. Whether we know it or not, Hope is what powers many of us and pulls us through when we are at our lowest. People like you, have given us that. It is never too late to extend your hand of acceptance, regardless of whether or not you currently understand. I do not, for example, have to understand everything about your spirituality, to know, accept, and embrace you as a fellow human being equally deserving of the same rights and dignities I have. 

Thank you.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Road to Recovery 2

Hey ya'll 

had to wake up EXTRA early this morning to settle Honey's feeding and medication because I will be obliged to go for the Ghost Festival later in the morning. (FYI the Ghost Festival, according to local belief, is the one day of the year that the dead may return to the mortal plane. Think, the original concept of Halloween, except more of a "break" from being purged of their bad karma in "hell" as part of the (unnecessarily) complicated process of Buddhist Reincarnation). Anyway, I really don't have much time as I will have to be leaving soon so do allow me to get straight to the point. 

  • Honey's condition appears to be improving quite rapidly in terms of the wound on her leg. The redness and blood had gone down drastically this morning and I think it may have something to do in part with how I got up in the middle of the night to re-apply her lotions. Dr. Jenny mentioned that the site is aggravated by dryness so it stands to reason the recovery process can only be aided by keeping it constantly moist but clean.
  • In terms of her injured leg, however, I do not see any improvement yet though, in all fairness, it has only been a couple of days since her visit to the doctor. She drags the appendage behind her and does not use it at all, which in itself may be good for recovery, but what worries me is the position in which she drags it and her propensity for minute bouts of hyperactivity (which may inadvertently make things worse!). As it stands, I try to divert these hyperactive moments by keeping her otherwise occupied. Usually by stroking her, or playing a little "stationary" game with my fingers where I wave them in front of her and she sits still and tries to grab at them using only her front paws. Again, I shudder to think what might happen next week when I go off to work.
  • Honey ate her medication with no hassle at all this morning (GOOD GIRL!) and also drank approximately 2.5ml of Ensure, which is a formula dietary food that is high in calcium which is supposed to help her bones heal faster and promote health all round. 
Comparison of wound from yesterday shows encouraging improvement! 
Back to sleep after a quick nibble. Not sure if its the medication that's causing the drowsiness or if she's just more lethargic generally these days. Either way less activity = less chances of self injury. I'd much rather she limited playtime to when she saw me so I've taken to covering the cage when I'm away to remove any external stimuli. So far so good! 
Ps. I really hope she gets better before me and Ray's weekend trip to Perhentian. Otherwise I may have to start planning alternatives. Perhaps a call to Dr. Jenny is in order (she did mention that she has boarded some Gliders before). But that is more than a month away, and I sincerely hope she will be walking and healed by then! 


Friday, August 24, 2012

Road to Recovery 1

Hey ya'll 

just going to post up random updates on Honey's condition. I don't expect this to be a day-to-day thing but I do expect it to be rather regular as I document her road to recovery. I realize, despite overwhelming concern on your part that not everyone may wish to follow a day-to-day mini post on the healing process but I'm really doing this for me as much as anyone else because writing about it helps me cope and "feel" that there is some progress. I can only hope that in time, reality will match my expectations. SO, let us begin. Day one of the healing process. 

  • Woke up at 7.00am today to feed Honey her meds. Turns out there was less fuss about it than last night as she drank the relaxed anti-inflammatory pills and antibiotic without any hassle. Perhaps it is the early morning hours, but I'm inclined to think that she is beginning to understand the correlation between the "icky stuff" I've been feeding her and the relief she must be feeling about the pain and itching in her back and legs.
  • On a less favorable note, it appears that Honey's constant scratching has reopened the wounds on her back. The spot was sticky with dried blood this morning and it caused me some alarm. I did take comfort in the fact, however, that her brutal "ministrations" were only concentrated on one side of the hind-quarters this time and that the other portions of her back look significantly less red/inflamed. Upon cleaning the wound I found that a scab had formed over the affected location. Also quite encouraging was the fact that she did not squirm, cry or try to claw and bite at the afflicted area even after I placed the lotion on it. 
  • I am actually more worried about her skin condition now, than I am about the leg. While she still drags the limb behind her from time to time as she is walking about, it does not seem to hurt or inconvenience her unduly any longer as she uses it from time to time. Hope we can see some visible improvement as the week progresses. 

A trip to Dr. Jenny's

Hey ya'll

so sorry for the lack of posting, but I came home to quite an emergency last night when I found Honey (our female glider) not in her usual sleeping spot next to Cookie (our male) in the pouch, but curled up on the floor. I dismissed this at first as I thought she had come down to eat but then I noticed a strange abrasion running down her back. I picked her up, to get a close look at the wound, when I noticed that something was not right at all! Her left leg, which was tucked under her body, seemed to be held at an awkward angle, and when not in use, dragged behind her as if it was broken! Naturally I was quite alarmed and started to panic! My baby... my poor baby! What do I do? Who do I call? Are there still any exotic vets in Kuala Lumpur? Thoughts flashed instantly to the sad fate of our two baby budgies, Cumulus and Nimbus who did not manage to receive treatment fast enough, which was when I resolved to do WHATEVER IT TOOK to get my Honey the necessary treatment she needed! Once again, I am indebted to the (sometimes) remarkable wisdom of the online community who directed me to Dr. Jenny of Hands "N" Paws that could treat serious condition in gliders! 

I emailed her first thing that night and was quite shocked to get a reply in less than half an hour later! Please note that this was already quite late into the night and I was only expecting a reply earliest by the following day! Without hesitation I told her, "I'll bring her tomorrow (meaning today, in present time!)" and an appointment was made to see Dr. Jenny the first thing she gets into clinic at 12.00pm.  

The trip to the vet was quite uneventful, save for the cries Honey made from time to time (no doubt due to the pain she must have been going through) which honestly tore into my heart each time it happened, but we finally made it and Honey got a chance to curl up and sleep a bit while I registered her and we waited for Dr. Jenny to arrive. As it turned out, we didn't have long to wait and, considering we were the first and only ones there, managed to see the doctor in under 20 minutes. 

Dr. Jenny performed a rather through inspection of Honey, and when she was done declared that we were really dealing with two separate but correlated problems here. 
  1. First of which was her leg. It appears that, very likely due to some play time accident, that Honey's ankle had been completely dislocated with a possibility of a fracture. To treat this Dr. Jenny did some massaging of the afflicted limb to help move the bones back into their correct place but told me that Honey's housing arrangements had to be changed. A splint, she explained, was quite impossible for Honey because of her remarkably small size, so the best method of promoting a quick and proper recovery would be to house her in a climb-free environment such as a terrarium. Bedding such as pieces of towels and sleeping pouches were also discouraged as they may entangle the limb and cause further damage.
  2. The second issue was regarding Honey's skin condition which had worsened dramatically in a relatively short span of time (several hours, by count of how long it takes that I'm out at work and then back home). As it turns out, the leg injury (which obviously put her in pain) caused her to lick the afflicted and surrounding area obsessively causing some sort of over abrasion of the dermis resulting in swelling and redness. This, we would treat with topical lotions and creams. Dr. Jenny has shaved her too (there was some struggle when this was done, and I had to steel myself to her cries) in the lower region and this is to prevent saliva buildup (from her licking) that may cause the skin to be further inflamed. 
In addition to that, Honey was discharged with a series of anti-inflammatory pills to be taken, as well as antibiotics. I never knew, before this, how challenging it could be to feed a small animal medicine (especially when it tastes foul!) but I will persevere! We've also gotten a tub of ensure (calcium rich food formula) to feed her as it will promote bone growth and recovery. The whole thing, all expenses included, only cost me RM43. Which is not just reasonable, but extremely cheap in my opinion and a LOT less than I was originally ready/willing to pay to get my baby back into tip top shape.

Honey in her make-shift sickbay. Rest is very important now I think. 
Cookie, was also brought to the vet, and I was told that he was a glowing example of good health save for a rather full anal gland (which is used to ward of predators and mark his territory) which I was told by Dr. Jenny is not really anything to worry about because he probably just had no reason to use it. He also got his annual deworming treatment and was very compliant about it. GOOD BOY COOKIE!!!! Anyway here's to a speedy recovery for Honey. Cookie misses her a lot, but I dare not let them play together for fear she gets over excited and injures herself. For now he is content with sitting next to her terrarium sick bay and watching over her as they eat their meals on separate sides of the "glass".

ps. Thanks for all of your wishes and prayers everyone. I (and I'm sure Honey) appreciate them all very very much. 


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Love at First Sight

Hey ya'll 

we're celebrating a rather momentous occasion today as two of our most darling animal friends finally got acquainted and appear to be enjoying each other's company very much! I first got Honey as a companion for Cookie several months (almost three, I think) ago when I noticed him pining for attention and companionship! Of course as his "best friend" I was only more than happy to provide him with it and we used to enjoy hours of each other's company, him sitting on my shoulder and playing with whatever else I happened to have on my person while I go about my work. But after awhile I began to realize that my companionship can never be a full substitute to the sort of companionship a strapping young glider needs. And that's when Honey came into the picture. Of course I did not introduce them together right away (she was small and needed to adjust to her new home first) but I did make sure that their cages were placed side by side. Still, there never had been any interaction between the two. Until today that is, when I allowed them take their meals side by side. 

Dinner was quite uneventful with the two of them fastidiously keeping to their own feeding bowls, but once they had polished up all they could eat, curiosity got the better of them and it was straight off to the "getting to know yous".  Well I must say that they hit it right off from the start! It was like love, or at least friendship, at first sight, and Honey proved to be quite the forward little girl as she started rubbing her nose all over Cookie's chest the instant they met! Cookie himself was quite the gentleman and did not try "anything funny" if you know what I mean! Instead, he consented to allowing her to cling on his back while he made his way up my shoulder. 

When playtime was finally over, I was about to separate them for bed when Cookie went into his "room" and made a little noise that caused Honey to come in right after. I waited for them to settle down before I peered inside to make sure that everything was okay and true enough they were cuddled up and fast asleep, Honey clinging tightly to Cookie's back. The light from my nosiness disturbed them somewhat and Honey woke up and made a noise which prompted Cookie to crawl out of bed, give me what I imagine was an apologetic look, before he pulled the blankets (really an old handkerchief) from my hand to cover her with it.  I suppose its rather safe to say that this marks the beginning of a very beautiful relationship.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Hibernation in Tarantulas

Hey ya'll

I've been noticing some weird behavior with our spiders lately and that is a sudden increase in lethargic behavior. Normally this wouldn't be so alarming with tarantulas but it has gone on for several months now. They appear to exhibit all signs of pre-molting behavior (not eating, curling up in the corner etc.) but nothing, not even a quick misting of the cage seems to prompt any molt whatsoever. What's even more alarming is that this behavior seems to be afflicting only two out of my three spiders, the Honduran Curly Hair and the Mexican Red-Knee. My first spider, Keric (Grammastolosa rosea) appears to be in extremely good condition, is eating on a regular basis and has molted once in the same time it has been since the other two exhibited such behavior. Indeed, though it started off as one of the smaller in size, it has quickly grown to surpass even the Honduran Curly Hair (which is often touted by enthusiasts as a "fast-growing" species). Needless to say, this has gotten my quite worried although, a "talk" with some online friends of mine allayed my fears somewhat by offering the possibility that they may

  1. Be going through a period of fasting, a behavior that is typical to most tarantula species
  2. In a state of torpor (temporary hibernation) due to the low temperature of my room. 

I have since moved the spiders out and into a warmer location so I suppose only time will tell how they are really doing. In the meantime, a more recent measurement of Keric's body length has revealed her/him to be almost an inch long! Although, quite regrettably, she/he seems to be loosing much of that brilliant red coloration she/she had as a baby. This, however, I'm taking as a sign that Keric is in fact a female. (females tend to be duller in color compared to males). 

In the meantime, I'm still looking for possibly explanations regarding my other two babies' strange behavior. Just some information on each, the Mexican Red-Knee is about 1cm in length, while the Honduran Curly Hair is just a little above half an inch. Once again, I put my faith in the intellectual capabilities of the online community. Hope to hear from you soon!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Fairies under the Troll Bridge

Hey ya'll

Damselflies truly are the most amazing and beautiful things!!! Superficially and at a glance, they sometimes resemble their close cousins, the dragonflies... but one need only take a second look to see that they really are quite different! Their flight patterns for example, are not quite so purposeful or aggressive as their, rather aptly named, relations and their bodies too are articulated in a rather unique manner. Instead of having both eyes joined together in an enormous orb, damselfly eyes are separate and usually resemble delicate beads on either side of the insect's head. Their wings, too, are held differently and while a dragonfly would hold its wings flat (that is spread out on either side of its body), damselflies typically fold both wings over their backs in pretty much the same manner butterflies do! Either way, I must be quite frank with you that I do not know enough about damselflies (or dragonflies, for that matter!) to be able to espouse anything that may be of exceptional use, but I can recount one particularly joyful experience of mine which took place sometime ago when I crawled under an old and dis-used bridge (to hunt for frogs, fish and things like that). Unknown to me, my forays disturbed an entire colony of damselflies which rose all around me in a shimmering cloud! Such wonderful colors they came in, from brilliant greens and golds, to dazzling purples and sparkling blues! All around me, they fluttered and tumbled, and some of the braver ones even consented to alight on my hands. It was quite a magical thing, and I almost felt as if I had stumbled out of this world and into that of the fairies! Indeed, it was one experience I will not soon (or ever) forget!

I crawled under the Troll Bridge, and found fairies instead. 


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Plant in a Pod

Hey ya'll 

so our dear friend Caryn just came back from a rather eventful trip to Korea last week, and along with her she brought a very new "friend" into our lives; Plant in a Pod!!! 

The "Plant in a Pod" is literally what is sounds like; a small plant in a pod!!! The plant in question is (I'm not horticulturalist so I can only take Caryn's word for this) a kind of remarkably slow growing cactus that requires very little for its survival and therefore, requires very little care. A simple dipping of the bottom half of the pod in water for half an hour or so every 2-3 months will allow the cactus to absorb what moisture it needs to sustain itself. Attached to a length of string or a chain, the "Plant in a Pod" can make a wonderful keychain or even a necklace (as I have fashioned mine) that will be sure to draw more than a few curious stares. Personally I think it looks like something out of Poke'mon or Final Fantasy and gives a whole new (and fun!!!) meaning to the term "adopting a plant". Someone should really consider introducing these here!!! 


Monday, July 23, 2012

Dust to Dust (and Happy National Moth Week)

Hey ya'll 

the Atlas Moth we had placed in a cage in our garden expired early this morning, and alas, she did not succeed in attracting any mates to her bed. It was quite a somber moment for all of us, to be frank, as we had grown quite affectionate of the little insect over time (to the point that we've started calling her Mothra) and it was quite heart-breaking to watch a creature so large and graceful in its life expire in but a few days. No matter, it is quite fortunate that my skill at pinning insect specimens has improved significantly over the years and we are quite content, I suppose, with the fact that we now not only have hundreds of eggs (that may possibly hatch!) but also a new display which may decorate any room of the house.

Mothra's remains, still in fairly good condition (despite being caged outdoors  for several days
Prepping the moth for spreading proved quite a challenge. In fact, she was so big, I had to prepare a separate spreading tray just for her. The one I use for my birdwings (Troides + Ornithoptera) just wasn't going to accomodate this one! 
What a magnificent display specimen this will make! 
Speaking of which... I will probably need to start looking for a bigger display case/box!!!

ps. It is NATIONAL MOTH WEEK so to all you nature lovers, amateur lepidopterists, and regular folks just trying to get involved in something different and "new", head on down to their website "HERE" and register your location!!! Upload and share any images and information of moths you see!!! I'm hoping I will find a lot more!!! 


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Attacus Atlas and Parthenogenetics

Hey ya'll

so I went back to check on my attacus atlas this morning and found her in the exact same position as she had been last night but, unfortunately, not a single male in sight. I shook the netting slightly to see if she had expired and found instead that she had been rather busy, depositing her eggs on the cage wall. Now, I really didn't think much of this (because many moths are quite prone to laying their eggs just about anywhere and everywhere when captured) but I later read, right before I was about to toss out the unfertilized eggs, that Atlas Moths may in fact be capable of reproducing parthenogenetically! Now how about that!!! Of course this piqued my interest quite intensely and I am still in the process of sourcing information to get this verified (or debunked) but it would be quite amazing, I think, to be able to raise a batch of parthenogenetically produced females and try the whole baiting thing again this time with more individuals that would hopefully mean greater chances of attracting a male as I would be increasing significantly the output source of female pheremones in my area!

Atlas moth in her cage early this morning. If you look real closely you may see two eggs that she'd laid.

That being said, though I am very hopeful that these eggs will yield some results, I am also rather skeptical as well (this is the first I'm hearing about parthenogenesis in Saturniidae). I guess all there is to do right now is sit and be patient. And, as they say, don't count my eggs before they have hatched!!!


Friday, July 20, 2012

Mothra Attacks!!!

Hey ya'll 

It feels good to be back here writing after my long period of inactivity and I must say that it was dear old Mother Nature who provided me inspiration to write again, this time in the form of a rather strikingly patterned moth of epic proportions. The moth, which was found clinging to the curtains of our kitchen windows turned out to be none-other than the famed Atlas Moth (attacus atlas) which is heralded all around the world in butterfly gardens and exhibits as the "largest moth in the world" for the very fact that it does indeed possess a total wing-surface area greater than any currently known species of butterfly or moth.

My mom, who was present when I found the moth, was quite taken by its sheer size and beauty and consequently quite distraught when she learnt that all giant silk moths (Saturniidae) do not possess mouth parts and therefore cannot feed for their 1-2 weeks of adult life. This, however, prompted her to aid me in my attempts at finding our lovely silk moth a mate. The reproductive role of the female atlas moth is highly passive and due to their gargantuan size, female atlas moths are often rather clumsy and erratic fliers. Therefore, instead of fluttering about haphazardly in search of a mate and expending on valuable fat reserves, the female atlas moth will cling to one location and release pheromones that may be detected by males several kilometers away. By this logic, I reasoned, we may place our female moth in a cage outdoors and hope that her scent would be detected by any male fluttering about in the immediate area. The chances are quite slim, of course, that a male atlas moth would actually be able to follow the scent trail of ours and make it to the outdoor cage but I figured that since these moths do not feed or fly about generally, there really wasn't much harm in trying anyway. 

We fashioned our cage out of an old laundry basket, nailed to a flower pot stand, and placed it in a location outdoors that could both catch the wind, but remain dry in the event of bad weather! I guess there's nothing to do now but hang around... and wait for something to happen!!!

ps. Speaking about moths, do check out this wonderful specimen of Daphnis hypothous that Raymond found for me.