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SPLAT!

Buggywindshield Usually when I go on a road trip and have hundreds of dead bugs on my windshield, I want to wash them off as soon as possible.

However, there's an entomologist who thinks we should take a closer look at what produced the splat.

Dr. Mark Hostetler is a professor of wildlife and conservation at the University of Florida, and author of "That Gunk on Your Car: A Unique Guide to Insects of North America".

If you search for his book on Amazon, you'll also be encouraged to purchase "What Bird Did That?" -- an book to help you identify various avian species by their droppings.

What better way to keep entertained on your summer road trips!

May 24, 2006 in Bugs in the news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bloomsday Run 2006

Here at Sterling we're still talking about -- and recovering from -- the big Bloomsday race on Sunday, May 7. It's a 12K (7.46 mile) race, billed as the largest timed road race in the country. Between 40,000 and 50,000 people participate each year -- from elite runners who finish the race in 35 minutes, to parents pushing strollers and walking the course in 3 hours. It's a huge event for our city, and this was the 30th anniversary of the race.

In the Corporate Cup division, we had two teams of five people representing our company and competing against each other: Beeline to the Finish and RESCUE Speed Trap. We finished 11th and 12th, respectively, in our category (50 to 89 employees).

We met at my house around 7:30 that morning for a healthy pre-race breakfast. After eating, stretching and some trash-talking between the two teams, we posed for a quick photo...

All_runners_2   

...and headed downtown to take our places at the starting line. Although Sunday was a chilly, blustery and overcast morning, it was a great day for both teams as many of us ran our personal best and shaved anywhere from 2 to 13 minutes off our previous year's times. Not bad considering most of us were not runners when we first decided to participate in Bloomsday as a company in the late 1990s.

Here's a shot of Rod, our president, crossing the finish line (he's the one in the very center of the photo).

Rod_06_finish_line_1

And here's my finish line photo (I'm in the blue baseball cap, just under the time display):

Steph_06_finish_line_1

Of course, I can't resist drawing your attention to the finish times in the two photos. I finished 35 seconds ahead of my boss. Not a huge margin -- last year I had a few minutes on him -- but I still beat him. More importantly, however, was the fact that our team ("Beeline") beat our coworkers on the "Speed trap" team for the second straight year. Friendly rivalry like this always makes for an interesting work environment. We're already starting to talk about strategy for next year!

May 10, 2006 in Life at Sterling | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A yellowjacket impostor

Most of the country is now into the spring yellowjacket season, with the queens emerging from hibernation to select a new nest site.

So it's not uncommon now to see a flying insect with bright yellow and black markings buzzing around your yard.

But you should know that it may not be a yellowjacket but a paper wasp, and therefore will not be caught with our RESCUE! Yellowjacket Trap.

How can you tell the difference? One of the most obvious ways is the appearance of their nest. If you see little exposed-honeycomb nests 2-3 inches in diameter hanging from the eave of your house, you have paper wasps. The good news is that the nests never get much larger than this.

Paper20wasp_2

Another way to tell the difference between paper wasps and yellowjackets is to observe them during flight. The paper wasp body will be long and thin, with a thin waist and long legs that dangle down as shown in this illustration:

Paper_wasp_2

Then, if you're really close up to the insect, you have the difference in markings. Yellowjackets in general will have more yellow on their bodies.

Here's the back of a yellowjacket:

Yellowjacket_close_up_2

And here's a paper wasp:

Paper_wasp_european

Aside from appearances, their behavior is also different. Unlike yellowjackets, paper wasps are NOT scavengers for meat. They prefer nectar and juices. They also won't be lured by our yellowjacket attractant. There presently is nothing on the market that is effective for these wasps. But you can take some solace in the fact that they are much more docile than the aggressive yellowjackets. If you leave them alone, they will likely leave you alone!

May 4, 2006 in Yellowjackets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack