Thinking about making my own spider silk

Last week I read an article on the Wired blog about an astounding silk tapestry exhibit that has recently opened at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The intricate golden fabric — woven entirely from undyed silk milked from over a million Golden Orb spiders of Madagascar — is a work of art to behold. (Click here to see the museum’s page and a terrific video about the tapestry.)

The article reminded me of the Golden Orb spiders that used to spin their glorious webs around our apartment in Knoxville, TN, and it made me wonder why I hadn’t seen any of these lovelies here in Georgia. So, imagine my glee when friend and neighbor Louise stopped by the house today with news of a spider sighting. “Grab your camera, Cory,” she said. “I think you’re going to want this for your blog!”

She was right.

More bugs and butterflies

Yesterday I was standing at my kitchen sink, lost in thought over a print project I’m designing right now, placing my thrice-filled-and-drained coffee cup in the basin, peering up at the gray skies, and down at the drenched grass, when I caught a flash of orange flitting in and around the buddleia bush. I grabbed the camera and dashed out before the skies opened up with a torrent again. I think this captivating creature is a Fritillary. If anyone else knows otherwise, please post in the comments.

I have also uploaded some new Magnolia seed pod images on Flickr. Click here to see my photo stream or click on the Flickr sidebar to the right.

Just for giggles, I’m throwing in a Soldier Bug image, too. I love these guys! This one was out front on my magnolia tree. Its giant seed pods are beginning to burst.

Just for giggles, I'm throwing in a Soldier Bug image, too. I love these guys! This one was out front on my magnolia tree. It's giant seed pods are beginning to burst.

More garden guests

I freely admit my penchant for the critters that show up in the garden. Now, I suppose, I’m reveling in it! Soldier bug and Swallowtail. Both are welcome in my yard any time.

Soldier Bug on Cinnamon Bark Crepe Myrtle.

Soldier Bug on Cinnamon Bark Crepe Myrtle.

Swallowtail on Obedient Plant

Swallowtail on Obedient Plant

Swallowtail on Obedient Plant

Swallowtail on Obedient Plant

Praying mantis — or preying?

If you look it up, it’s “praying.” But today I found one doing both. I think mantises are my favorite garden insect, next to bumble bees. (And it really has nothing to do with the fact that they eat their partners after mating.) All green and gorgeous and alert, they appear contemplative and curious at the same time whenever I’ve come across them, like little Yodas for the insect world — “Impress you, I will.”

I stumbled upon this one after noticing a goldfinch was just way too interested in the Rose of Sharon bush by our back porch (click on the images for a larger view).

Brunch in the sun

Honey bee brunch in the sun

She's almost smiling, isn't she?