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Santa Clarita Outdoor Report

    SCV Outdoor Report: Flash Versus Substance

    It’s a peaceful August night in Wisconsin.  I’m sitting in a cozy chair, talking with my Dad, when suddenly I see a tiny speck of light glowing through the window.  It was a brief flash, less than a second, but my face lit up with a smile in response.  It was a firefly - also known as a lightning bug.  This firefly was looking for romance and trying to make a flashy first impression.

    Santa Clarita Outdoor Report: Grasping Webs

    It sounds like a scene in a horror movie.  Imagine you are walking along a trail.  As you come around the bend, you see a Cobwebby Thistle (Cirsium occidentale) standing at least 6 feet tall.  But you’re not worried - the thistle is at least two feet in from the trail.  You approach...the music swells ominously...suddenly...the plant lurches towards you and gouges its spiny thistles deep into your shirt, a hold that will...not...let...go.  Shriek!

    SCV Outdoor Report: Fire Retardant “Shaving Cream”

    We’ve all seen the recent news videos: fixed-wing aircraft swooping down to drop a load of fire retardant alongside the smokey edge of a wildland fire.  But did you ever wonder what those fire retardants are made of and how they work?


    Santa Clarita Valley Outdoor Report: Pollen Navigation

    This Report is a "Best of Wendy Langhans" Report.


    During allergy season , I sometimes wonder if pollen grains have their own navigation system .  If that’s true, then their map for the Santa Clarita Valley must have a fluorescent orange locator pin labeled “Wendy’s nose”.  (Thank goodness for antihistamines.)

    Santa Clarita Outdoor Report: Breaking and Entering

    We learn by observing others.  Not only is that true for humans, it’s also true for other creatures, including certain species of bees.  And in the case of short-tongued bumblebees, what they learned is something we call burglary - “breaking and entering”.

    Santa Clarita Valley Outdoor Report: Epic Spider Fake Out

    As a child, I was attracted to butterflies by their color and patterns:  sometimes subtle, sometimes vibrant, sometimes simple and sometimes intricate.  As I took a closer look, I sometimes noticed that the trailing end of their wings had a piece missing, as though something had taken a bite out of it. 

    Santa Clarita Valley Outdoor Report: Bearly There

    According to this LA County Sheriff Dept. website, “Black Bears were introduced into the San Gabriel Mountains in 1933. They are all descendants of 11 bears deported from Yosemite National Park for being troublemakers.”

    SCV Outdoor Report: The Point Of The Point

    Santa Clarita Outdoor Report by Wendy Langhans

    SCV Outdoor Report: Living Color - Part II


    Last week, we looked at what gives feathers their range of dull and vibrant colors, comparing reality to the LIVING COLOR of 20th century technology.  Fifty years after color TV’s became popular and affordable, our technology has greatly improved.  Now we have iPad’s with “Retina display” and “rich color saturation”.  So how does this newer digital version of “Living Color” compare to reality? 

    Santa Clarita Valley Outdoor Report: Cupid's Arrow

    Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and the stores are full of pink cards and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate.  One of the iconic images of this season is of winged Cupid with his bow and quiver of arrows.  Did you ever wonder where this image came from?  I just assumed it was simply another one of those ancient Greek and Roman myths.

    Then I learned the myth may have been inspired by snails, specifically, by their courtship behavior.  Why snails?  Why not some cuddly creature like a puppy or kitten?  After all, snails are hermaphrodites, that is, they possess both male and female reproductive organs.  And snails are definitely not monogamous.