Spring Spiders

Well, after a seemingly eternal winter, flowers are blooming and birds are singing and everything is crawling with life. I’m looking forward to a summer of spider-watching. Most of the orb-weavers (Araneidae) have only just started hatching, but in the meanwhile there are plenty of other kinds of spiders out and about! Meet a few of them after the jump. Continue reading Spring Spiders

The Cheat Sheet: Committee Meetings, May 19-25

I have been falling behind on my committee-agenda-reading agenda, I’m afraid. Better late and slightly half-assed than never. Coming up in the next few weeks: the final 2014 budget variances; extreme cold-weather drop-ins; misuse of TTC fuel credit cards; wildlife encounters; and more. Continue reading The Cheat Sheet: Committee Meetings, May 19-25

The Cheat Sheet: May 5 City Council

Just in time for my 30th birthday, I’m getting the best present ever: a City Council meeting! This month’s agenda is jam-packed with important items, so fix yourself a drink while you read this. Up for discussion: funding the Scarborough subway, diversity on the TTC board, a new City Manager, the social housing waitlist, (not) fixing basement flooding, and more. Continue reading The Cheat Sheet: May 5 City Council

The Cheat Sheet: March 31 City Council

AgendaMeeting MonitorLivestream

My apologies to everyone for this late Cheat Sheet! The recent cold snap shocked me back into hibernation, and I have spent most of the last few days asleep.

If you read the previous committee meeting Cheat Sheet you may recognize several items on this City Council agenda. Accountability officer shakeup, Fimbulwinter, oil pipelines, taxi law, the Spadina subway extension, drones, spruce, Baby Point, a Baudelaire reference, and more below the fold. Continue reading The Cheat Sheet: March 31 City Council

The Year In Me

This year I started learning how to use my Wacom! These are a few illustrations that didn’t make it onto the blog.

After the jump, a look back at all the stuff I wrote. Continue reading The Year In Me

Spiderblogging: Love Hurts

This may be my last spider post of the year. Spiders’ lives are short here, and for the past few months they have had one obsession: to mate and reproduce before they die in the winter cold. Males go wandering in search of females, often getting lost and ending up in people’s houses. Females make as many egg sacs as they can, which they will guard until they die. If the eggs last the winter, they will hatch in the spring. Continue reading Spiderblogging: Love Hurts

Tangled Bank #3: The circle of liiiiiiiiife

Long-jawed orbweaver

As July fades into August you can feel everything winding down, going into autumn mode. The milkweed and thistle plants have largely been pollinated and have started going to seed. Aphid populations have grown so dense that they are producing winged aphids (alates) that can leave the nest, so to speak; and ladybugs in all stages of life, as well as orb-weaving spiders, are still around to prey on them.

There are still some late-blooming monarch caterpillars, but fully grown monarch butterflies have been out and about for a while. Meanwhile, other species are even further along. The skeletonizing leaf beetles are nearing the end of their life cycle; most of them are pregnant now, getting ready to lay eggs that will hatch in the spring. The tussock moth caterpillars are just getting big. They’ll pupate over the winter and hatch next year.

I also found several insects that I have yet to identify! If anyone recognizes them, let me know. Continue reading Tangled Bank #3: The circle of liiiiiiiiife

Tangled Bank #2: My God, It’s Full of Weird Larvae

Since my last visit to the lakeside, there’s a whole new crop of increasingly bizarre insect babies to be found on milkweed, thistle, and goldenrod. Photos and explanations after the jump, brought to you by that weird person who stares at leaves.

Continue reading Tangled Bank #2: My God, It’s Full of Weird Larvae

Tangled Bank

From the closing paragraph of Darwin’s Origin of Species:

It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us.

My own “tangled bank” is the little strip of land between Gus Ryder Pool and the lake. I find it endlessly fascinating to check on during lakeshore walks. It’s amazing what you can see when you look closely. Here’s what was going on when I visited it Sunday evening. Continue reading Tangled Bank