Monday, May 1, 2017

Whimsical wool sower wasp

Pink polka dots and wasps were not an iconic pairing in my mind, but springs walks never fail to deliver awesomeness. My  sister and I discovered these polka dot balls on an April walk in a oak pine forest. We had no idea we were admiring wasp handiwork. If a duck quacks, a flower blazes, or a bud emerges—I’m likely to stop and appreciate.  Butterflies, dragonflies, and caterpillars halt me, but wasps and flies tend not to engage me. Like many women, I don’t love bugs. My sister and I have been known to run-away, and we love our husbands more when they “save us” from spiders and six and eight-legged home invaders. 
Walnut-sized, Dr. Seuss inspired pink polka dot balls on white oaks do make me stop in wonder.  My sister and I hovered over them. We prodded them with a stick and walked away scratching our heads. Had we dissected one, we would have found what looked like little seeds, but were in actuality small larvae of the Wool sower wasp (Callirhytis seminator).
These parasitic wasps have co-evolved with the oak so that when the wasps lay their eggs on the deciduous tree in the winter, the eggs and trees respond to spring together. When the eggs hatch, the grub’s secretions stimulate the plant to develop gall tissue. The gall protects and feeds the developing larvae and we get polka dot balls on oak trees.
My prejudice against insects has perhaps diminished (but stay out of my house–and don’t take up residence in my sister’s house either.) a bit.  John Muir said that whatever we expect from a nature “we always get more.” I’m finding that this maxim even holds true for insects.    The wool sower wasp doesn’t sting, which is true of most wasps. 
Take children outdoors and buy them books about nature. Consider this one

Howie Tootalot in Yellowstone: The Legend of Lake Isa (The Tootalots) (Volume 2) Paperback

Why does the water of Isa Lake drain in two different directions? Follow Howie Tootalot to the wild land we now call Yellowstone as he and his new bear friend explore the wild geysers, waterfalls, lakes, rivers and more. Danger surrounds them, yet lessons from the wild and the wilderness itself will save them. Learn the Tootalot family legend. Children may download and assemble their own free puppets—just like the ones in the story. Great fun for reading and play at home or in the car. Howie Tootalot in Yellowstone is the second in The Tootalots series. Award-winning parenting author, dons a pen name and introduces Howie Tootalot in this fun legend that offers giggles and some important ways to deal with respecting the danger and wildness of natural wonders such as Yellowstone National Park.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Call for submissions

 I recently returned to our Arkansas cottage after a quick road trip to see Manatees in Florida. On a dark, cold Jan. morning I walked to Manatee Springs from our campsite to find four manatees in shallow water. They were warming themselves in the relative warmth of the springs. Baby hugged mom. Mom nudged her calf to the surface every 5-10 minutes. Two other manatees seemed to be positioned to protect the duo. In the morning light I could see their massive curvy bodies and they loved and breathed. I watched for a hour, and the rhythm of their respiration calmed my nervous head and heart. That was their lesson to me: love and breathe. Those actions are not passive.
We have all processed many feelings in the last few months. Ready to write? Jack Walker Press themed anthologies are ready to partner with you and respected organizations to deliver artful personal essays and do the important work of art.
Our first collection will explore the theme of transitions. The essay need only be loosely connected to the theme in whatever way you see the connections. We will partner with the University of Wisconsin Madison and assemble and promote this collection during the Write By the Lake class in June. Learn more at http://continuingstudies.wisc.edu/…/…/sessions-speakers.html You do not need to take the Madison class to submit to the anthology. Submit by June, 15, 2017--the earlier the better!
Our second anthology will explore the theme of exclusion and the other. This theme seems even more pertinent to today's political climate than when we selected it last summer. The essays don't have to be political. Marian Fredal and other activists and writers have agreed to participate in the editorial selections for this collection. Profits will be donated to the Southern Poverty Law Center or a similar charity. Submit by Dec. 31, 2017,
Submit through Green Submissions; you will need to register there first (free). https://greensubmissions.com/723/the-xyzs/index.php
On a personal note, I am seeking reviewers for the first two volumes of a children's book series. If you have kids or love kids literature (picture book for early readers--seven or eight and under--let me know via email if you would like a review copies and will post honest reviews on Amazon.
Thanks for reading, and don't you have some writing to do? Let's get our voices out there!
With love and admiration in anticipation of your thoughtful work,
Amy Lou
Amy Lou Jenkins
Award-winning author Every Natural Fact

AL@JackWalkerPress.com

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Monarch butterflies decline to historic low

 Overwintering monarch butterflies in Mexico have declined by 27%.  These historic lows may be related to declining habitat and increases in erratic weather.
 World Wildlife Fund (WWF) released the following statement from Omar Vidal, CEO of WWF in Mexico:
"The monarch migration is a phenomenon like no other. But now, it’s imperiled by forces the monarchs themselves cannot control. The reduction in the area of forest they occupied this year - most probably due to the high mortality caused by storms and cold weather last year - is a clear reminder for the three countries that they must step up actions to protect breeding, feeding and migratory habitat."
"We cannot control the climate, but we can do much better in eradicating illegal logging in the reserve and tackling habitat loss in the U.S. and Canada. But, even if Mexico's overwintering sites never lose another tree, without food and habitat along the migration routes the forests will soon bid farewell to their final orange and black-winged tenant."
Consumers can help butterflies by taking care to use wood and wood products from known sustainable sources, protect natural habitats, and to plant milkweed.  Many kinds of milkweed are well suited to home landscaping.  Gardeners should take care to avoid insecticides.   Gardeners who plant native milkweeds and then use insecticides kill monarchs. 

Whimsical wool sower wasp

Pi nk polka dots and wasps were not an iconic pairing in my mind, but springs walks never fail to deliver awesomeness. My  sister and I d...