Thank you global warming: Giant hornets are killing dozens in China and eating bees across Europe. – Quartz

A plague of hornets, each the size of a human thumb, have descended on Shaanxi province this summer—at least 28 have been stung to death (link in Chinese), while another 419 have been injured, according to a local news report from China Radio Network (CRN), via the New York Times’ Chris Buckley. The death toll from hornet attacks in Ankang city is more than twice the annual average between 2002 and 2005, say the Ankang police, as the Guardian reports. A local doctor said hospitalizations due to hornet attacks have risen steadily over the years (link in Chinese)

via Thank you global warming: Giant hornets are killing dozens in China and eating bees across Europe. – Quartz.

NASA Curiosity rover finds ‘surprising’ amount of water in Mars soil analysis – ABC News Australian Broadcasting Corporation

A soil analysis on Mars by the Curiosity rover has turned up a surprising amount of water, as well as a chemical that will make a search for life more complicated, scientists said.A scoop of fine-grained sand collected by the rover shortly after its August 2012 touchdown showed the soil contains about 2 percent of water by weight.”It was kind of a surprise to us,” Curiosity scientist Laurie Leshin said.”If you take a cubic foot of that soil you can basically get two pints of water out it.

via NASA Curiosity rover finds ‘surprising’ amount of water in Mars soil analysis – ABC News Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Blind artist James Newton uses sock monkeys to recreate famous artworks, pop culture icons – ABC News Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Blind Tasmanian artist James Newton has recreated some of the worlds famous artworks and pop culture icons using sock monkeys.The creations showing at Launcestons Queen Victoria Art Gallery include some of the worlds most famous artworks as they have never been seen before.From the Mona Lisa to Salvador Dalis Stillness of Time, the great masterpieces have been remade, socking it to the theory that craft and high art are worlds apart.

via Blind artist James Newton uses sock monkeys to recreate famous artworks, pop culture icons – ABC News Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Wired Space Photo of the Day – Wired Science

This new image from Hubble of the massive galaxy cluster Abell 1689 shows the phenomenon of gravitational lensing with unprecedented clarity. This cluster acts like a cosmic lens, magnifying the light from objects lying behind it and making it possible for astronomers to explore incredibly distant regions of space. As well as being packed with galaxies, Abell 1689 has been found to host a huge population of globular clusters.

via Wired Space Photo of the Day – Wired Science.

Yardangs on Earth and Mars

I love this.

Planetary Geomorphology Image of the Month

Post by Dr. Lori Fenton.

A yardang is a topographical feature that has been carved out of a surface by the wind. The word is derived from the Turkic word yar, which means ridge or steep bank. On Earth they are most commonly found in deserts where there is a sand supply, which abrades the surface when moved by the wind, and soft sedimentary rocks that the sand easily erodes. Over time, the sand wears down the surface into beautiful streamlined shapes that are aligned with the prevailing sand-moving winds.

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Red Admiral Butterfly Sipping From Sap Flow

In years past butterflies have been abundant in my Ecosystem Garden to the point where I wrote about Red Admiral Population Explosion and also Why Are There so Many Tiger Swallowtails this Year?But this year butterflies of all kinds are much scarcer, so I celebrate each individual sighting.I haven’t seen ANY Monarch Butterflies in my wildlife garden this year, despite the plethora of Milkweed I’ve planted for them.

via Red Admiral Butterfly Sipping From Sap Flow.

Miraculous Conception: Are Planets Forming Without Stars? : The New Yorker

One of the most remarkable discoveries about exoplanets—planets that exist outside of our solar system—is that some of them appear to be flying through interstellar space on their own. They’re not orbiting a star, nor are they tied to any other obvious companion.The precise number of these planets—alternately called “free-floating,” “Steppenwolf,” “unbound,” or “rogue” worlds—is debatable, but it could be enormous. Some data gathered from gravitational-microlensing surveys suggests that there could be one to two times as many of these interstellar voyagers as there are stars in the Milky Way, which would be a number in the hundreds of billions.

via Miraculous Conception: Are Planets Forming Without Stars? : The New Yorker.

GREAT-TAILED GRACKLES

Towheeblog

The grackles are coming, the grackles are coming! They are not spreading as quickly as the Eurasian Collared-Dove, but they are moving west and north. Once confined largely to the desert southwest, this species is found across the southern Great Plains and along much of the length of California. They are not afraid of modest heights as they are now common around Las Vegas which is at about 2200 feet elevation, higher than the Rogue Valley. Also, they’ve been regular if uncommon in Harney County, Oregon, which is above 4000 feet in most parts.
Here are my first photos from Emigrant Lake where the Kreismans got the first photos last month (on an earlier blog here).GTG STRUT

G-TG

GTG2

GTG-FML This bird without the glossy black plumage is a female GT Grackle. These birds are close relatives of other blackbirds and cousins of the meadowlark and orioles. This is the Icterid family, found only…

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