A trio of unrelated topics

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A different funky ladybug -a Multicoloured Asian Lady Beetle

I don’t have a complete blog post in my head, so here are three unrelated topics I’ve been thinking about.

1. Last week, during our first cold snap of the year, I found another unique lady bug active in the garden (first one here). This one was much blacker that others I’ve seen. It turns out its a Multicoloured Asian Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis), first introduced to North America in 1916 to control aphids and is now well established.

2. Here, the rainy season is well underway. I actually don’t mind the rain, but then, I grew up in this environment. I recently read an interesting article (check it out here) about the scent of rain. Like instruments in an orchestra, the smell of rain originates from microorganisms emitting organic compounds as perhaps a collective call for help, plus notes from plant oils and fungus. One of the culprits is the compound geosmin, whose name literally means ‘smell of the earth’. Geosmin was isolated and identified in 1965 – yet I don’t think it is in any of the commercial grooming products (like deodorant) that claims a rain scent as they never actually smell like rain.

3. The colours in nature never cease to amaze me, which is why I’m currently reading ‘Colour: Travels Through the Paintbox’ by Victoria Finlay for a second time (I’m on the chapter about red dyes from insects). Blue in nature is a particularly interesting colour as natural blue pigments are rare. When I first started this blog, I wrote about blues here, here, here, here and here (clearly this is a favorite topic of mine). I recently stumbled upon this article which is a great explanation of the topic.