Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Hanging around for a bit of sex

In Insects, Uncategorized on February 17, 2013 at 10:34 am

Birdwings mating

Pen with birdwing butterflies

Pen was gardening yesterday when a pair of birdwing butterflies, firmly locked in the embrace of Eros, landed on her arm.

Sex is tough for the female birdwing. The boyfriend locks his organs into hers then hangs upside down, wings folded, while she flies around, carrying him.

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A couple of updates

In Insects, Miscellaneous ramblings, Uncategorized on March 13, 2011 at 2:29 pm


Our Banded Hornets' nest is gone.

My most recent post – Who Robbed the Coucals? – suggested that maybe it was Asian Giant Hornets or Banded Hornets that broke into the nest of our pair of coucals and ate the eggs.

But I thought I’d ask for an expert opinion. I contacted Associate Professor Paitoon Leksawasdi, an entomologist at Chiang Mai University. Read the rest of this entry »

Who robbed the coucals?

In Birds, Insects, Miscellaneous ramblings, Uncategorized on March 5, 2011 at 8:26 am

The culprit? Asian Giant Hornet queen.

We have a pair of Greater Coucals in the garden. They’ve tried many times to raise young, but without success.

For some reason they seem to favour a stand of Buddha bamboo right in front of the house. It should be ideal – the bamboo is very dense and although it won’t keep snakes out, it deters our cats. Read the rest of this entry »

And you thought Jim Thompson was only about silk?

In Uncategorized on February 7, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Fields of sunn hemp, which is harvested to make organic fertiliser.

Continuing our wanderings in the Khao Yai area, we were taken by friends to the Jim Thompson Farm in Pak Tong Chai. The 600-rai farm was set up by the silk maker, initially to ensure a steady supply of mulberry plants and silkworm eggs. These days they grow a lot more there, including some of the largest pumpkins I’ve ever seen.

I Googled “World’s largest pumpkin” and found this site, and the pumpkins at the JT Farm are smaller. (For the record, let me state that I’m not a pumpkin expert, nor do I go round the world looking for giant pumpkins.) But they are still pretty darn big.  Read the rest of this entry »

Now watering the garden can be fun!

In Miscellaneous ramblings, Uncategorized on February 2, 2011 at 12:22 pm


One of Amnat's windmills in the making.

Watering the garden can be a pleasure some days, wandering slowly around enjoying what you’ve created. But on other days it can be a bit of a bore, a chore that must be done, and which can’t be hurried.

But now there’s another way to get the garden watered and give yourself a bit of fun and exercise at the same time. It’s all thanks to Amnat Garnchang, who runs a cluttered workshop on the outskirts of Korat. Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t just talk to your plants. Sing to them.

In Miscellaneous ramblings, Uncategorized on January 30, 2011 at 6:45 am

Uncle Grai sings to his veggies.

On our recent travels around Khao Yai, we stopped at the market garden owned and run by a local character known as Uncle Grai.

He sits in a large open-sided shed, surrounded by a sophisticated sound system, and sings Thai songs and slightly mangled versions of Western songs. Around the shed his staff work on, weeding, digging, planting and watering. The farm is dedicatedly organic. Read the rest of this entry »

How to blow B50 million on pot plants

In Uncategorized on January 21, 2011 at 9:19 am

There were probably as many cameras as there were pot plants.

We just came back from a short break, staying on the edge of Khao Yai National Park and in Korat. While there, we went ot see the Wang Nam Khieo Flower Festival. Apparently the local authority, who organised it, got a B50 million grant from the government, presumably on teh basis that it would boost tourism to the area, so we were looking forward to something spectacular.

Wang Nam Khieo is a delightful area, with wineries and some very nice resorts. The one we stayed in, the Jungle View, has nicely appointed wood cabins looking across a klong to the mountains, and a good restaurant with both Thai and farang food, for B1,300 a night.

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Weird little insect identified

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 4:31 am

Colourful leaf hopper - in this case graphocephala coccinea.

You’ll maybe recall the photo I posted recently of a tiny, very strange insect. Thanks to reader Wendy, it’s now identified, sort of.

Wendy has a good friend, Dave Rentz, who lives in the rainforests of Kuranda, Australia. He knows a great deal about insects. His fascinating blog, with great close-up shots of exotic insects, is here.

Wendy shot him the link and he promptly responded, “Your insect is a baby leaf-hopper. They usually occur in numbers on stems of plants where they suck juices. The adult will look quite different and be very colourful. The adults are often on tree trunks or branches.”

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It’s a crappy life being a bug

In Insects, Uncategorized on January 2, 2011 at 5:35 am

No, my name's not Frank. In fact, I'm really not a bug at all. And you really do NOT want to eat me.

Anyone who’s studied nature for more than five minutes will know that camouflage is an important part of survival for millions of species. But carrying one’s excrement on one’s back is, some people might say, taking things a bit far.

Pen recently bought a makok tree, sometimes known as Thai olive. The fruit bears a passing resemblance to olives, but that’s as far as it goes. In fact this tree – Linnaean name Spondias dulcis (see here for Wiki entry) – is a relative of the cashew tree.

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Well, at least they are not Tiger Hornets…

In Insects, Uncategorized on December 19, 2010 at 4:55 am

Elegant paper pyramid, but don't get too close.

Over the past few months I’ve been cautiously watching the growth of a paper hornets’ nest on one of our pomelo trees. It’s now a good metre high. It’s really very elegantly made, and tough, too – it’s apparently unaffected by the heavy rain we’ve had in the past few weeks. Read the rest of this entry »