The year in review – Part 2

Yesterday I posted a small selection of photos that marked important/interesting events that took place in the first half of 2012, and here is a selection from the last six months.


July. Processing of the entomological material collected in Gorongosa takes up most of the month. Although I spend most of July looking through the microscope, to keep my camera from rusting I document the biodiversity of life in Estabrook Woods outside of Boston. Ambush bugs make a fascinating subject: they are not only pretty, they also try to talk to people.


8_Amblyrhynchus48_MaxiAugust. I have the good fortune to visit, albeit very briefly, the Galapagos Islands as a leader of a trip organized by the Harvard Natural History Museum. All the icons were there: flightless cormorants, Darwin’s finches, Blue-footed boobies, giant tortoises and, most importantly, the marine iguanas. I make a promise to myself to come back and do a proper study of the Galapagos Nesoecia katydids, which, I am convinced, will reveal a pattern of speciation similar to that seen in other groups at the archipelago. Back home very sad news: our sweet, innocent Max has an enormous tumor in his head. He undergoes a successful surgery, and a radiation and chemotherapy treatment.


9_Mantis_religiosaSeptember. Praying mantids are invading my garden! One night I step on the deck and a huge Chinese mantis hits me on the head.


10_Meloe7October. Maxi has recovered enough from his brain surgery so that we can take him again on long walks in the Estabrook Woods. I giggle like a little girl when on one of our walks I discover a bunch of beautiful oil beetles – I never expected to find them there.


11_Operophtera2November. Insect activity is winding down, and the arrival of winter moths marks the beginning of a largely lifeless season. But these interesting insects brighten the otherwise gloomy time of year – males come in the hundreds to the lights of our house around Thanksgiving, while the stubby, flightless females are laying eggs in the bark of our maples.


12_RhampholeonDecember. This year I received the best Christmas gift ever: Kristin commissioned from Canadian artist Sharlena Wood a painting based on my photo of a pair of Gorongosa pygmy chameleons. It is a gorgeous and, I am sure, the world’s only piece of art featuring this endemic and enigmatic Mozambican animal. Thanks K!

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Duncan Easton says:

    Hi Piotr

    Just wanted to echo Mike’s thoughts. Your site has been my favourite discovery (via Jerry Coyne’s site) this year and I’m really looking forward to seeing what you post in 2013.

    Thanks for taking the time share all this incredible information, I really look forward to seeing a new ‘Smaller Majority’ post.

    Best wishes


  2. The oil beetle photo is my favorite in this batch – the background makes it.

    Love the painting!

  3. Hi Piotr,
    I am so excited to have discovered your blog this year. Your photographs are beautiful, and you write so eloquently about the smaller majority. Wishing you and yours a wonderful year ahead and looking forward to more of your excellent work!


  4. lilawheel says:

    Hi Piotr,  We are happy to hear about the large baby hatch and wonder if, when we come back to get the ‘cage’, could we have a few of the babies to put in our garden, when it’s warm enough?  It seems you will be abundantly endowed with Chinese mantids unless they are eating each other or you’re doing sthg. else with them…

    We are in Key West, working on our books and basking in the sun.  It’s abundant with night chirrers (crickets?), centipedes and wee fire ants.  I confess having baited the ants with a sugary toxic liquid from the hardware store, as they were gnawing on me as I wrote and slept, or tried to.  

    Love the idea of your book about housecave beings.  Mostly in basement?  It seems so.



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