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Does a Dead Scorpion Glow? by Elaine A. Powers, Author

image of a dead scorpion glowing in moonlight
Photo by Terry. Incredibly, even fossilized scorpions glow under UV light!

I was asked if dead scorpions glow by a friend who found a dead scorpion on his patio. I confess, I didn’t know. My guess was that the scorpion wouldn’t glow after death because, I hypothesized, the fluorescent chemicals were actively produced by the living animal.

The part of the scorpion’s body that glows is located in the exoskeleton, the hard, protective covering. Within the cuticle of the exoskeleton is the hyaline layer, which reacts to black light or moonlight. Interestingly, scorpions don’t glow right after molting. The cuticle must harden first. So, is the glowing material part of the hardening process; or is it incorporated into the cuticle during the hardening?

Not much is known about the glowing material.

What is it made of?

Why do scorpions have it?

Several hypotheses have been put forth:

  • Detection of UV light and visible light, so they know when and where to hide.
  • Sunblock.
  • Prey attraction and confusion so they are easier to catch.
  • Communication with other scorpions.

But, back to that original question: Does a dead scorpion glow? Surprisingly, it does!

Lyric Power Publishing is proud of its comprehensive, educational and fun workbooks, like the one below, My Book About the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, a fellow desert dweller of the scorpion;

image of children's workbook cover, with picture of western diamondback rattler and a listing of the activity sheets insideActivity sheets and coloring pages include the rattlesnake description, lifecycle, parts, facts, traits, and diet; cut and paste, compare and contrast, learning about graphs and charts, word search, and a crossword puzzle. It’s a jam-packed rattlesnake workbook!

and it’s science-based children’s books written in rhyme. Learn everything you need to know about rattlesnakes in this fun-to-read book with vibrant, exciting illustrations.

A brown book cover, with a circle with blue sky, with a rattlesnake popping out of the circle, title: Don't Make Me RattlePeople fear rattlesnakes because they don’t understand them. Come inside and learn about these amazing snakes, how they help people, and why the rattlesnake should be respected, not exterminated.

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Marketing Books and Meeting Interesting Folks in Tucson by Elaine A. Powers, Author

Image of Empire Ranch signEven though I would love to have someone else do the marketing of my books, doing it myself allows me to discover interesting sites in the Tucson area.  One such place is the Empire Ranch. I met some of the volunteers at the Western Writers of America conference and they thought my books would be a good fit for their gift shop.

The Empire Ranch is located on the road to Sonoita in Las Cienegas National Conservation Area. The mission of the Empire Ranch Foundation is, “Acting in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The purpose of the Foundation is to protect, restore and sustain the Empire Ranch historical buildings and landscape as an outstanding western heritage and education center.” The combine two interests of mine, conservation and historical preservation.  Back in New Jersey, I was part of the Union Forge Heritage Association. The ranch was established in the 1860’s. 

The gift shop is looking to expand to include more items about animal and plant conservation. I’m honored to be included. They’ll be selling the Don’t series and Queen of the Night: the Night-blooming Cereus.

*Learn about the Night-blooming Cereus, Peniocereus greggii, the mysterious cacti
that bloom all together only one night per year
*An Amazon #1 Book in Children’s Botany Section
*See the Desert Southwest in a new, fun way
*Scientific facts written in rhyme are easy to remember
*Enjoy spectacular illustrations of Cereus, the Sonoran Desert and its wildlife

a light brown book cover with green lettering: Queen of the Night: Night Blooming Cereus, with illustration of a white flower
Biologist and Author Elaine A. Powers includes both scientific facts and the magic of this Southwestern Desert plant in her book, QUEEN OF THE NIGHT: THE NIGHT-BLOOMING CEREUS. Powers says being a musician helped her to weave into poetry the plant parts, the blooming cycle, the plant’s growing conditions, and its pollinators.
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Today is National Reptile Awareness Day by Elaine A. Powers, Author

I once wrote a poem that included the line “reptilian allure.” One of the meeting participants commented that he couldn’t see how reptiles had any allure.

A woman holds a five-foot rock iguana in her living room
The author with five foot rock iguana, Blue.

Even if you don’t feel the need to cuddle reptiles as I do, they are worthy of our admiration. Their body type has been very successful throughout the ages. Their tough outer scales are very utilitarian, providing great protection. They also gleam in the sunlight, which is known as iridescence. I like to use the Rainbow or Bahamian boas as examples.

irredescent bahamian boa
Rainbow Boa Image-by-Алексей-Комаров-from-Pixabay

They do, however, have what we might consider drawbacks in their physiological design. Being cold-blooded, ectothermic, they rely on the environment to regulate their body heat. While man’s construction may seem like a good thing, basking on those nice warm roads is fatal for far too many reptiles.

Many people don’t see the benefits of reptiles, but they serve us in many ways. They help control rodents and the diseases they carry (and let us not forget the pack rats in Southern Arizona that chew the wiring in our cars); they help plants to disperse and germinate, and some of them have provided molecules that have been turned into medicines.

And, our reptilian friends are fascinating. We don’t have to fear them and a good place to learn why is in a book I’ve written called Don’t Make Me Rattle. Everything you need to know about rattlesnakes is in this dramatically illustrated, fun book written in rhyme.

Help protect our reptilian friends and watch the road ahead.

close up of iguana face, feet on road
Image by Akiroq Brost from Pixabay

 

A book cover, with a Native American 'feel,' and a painting of a Western Diamondback RattlesnakePeople fear rattlesnakes because they don’t understand them. Come inside and learn about these amazing snakes, how they help people, and why the rattlesnake should be respected, not exterminated.

 

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The Sanibel Snakes Are Gone by Elaine A. Powers, Author

I have spent a lot of time in South Florida, nearly every year since I was born. I remember seeing massive Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes crossing the road. All the cars would stop and we’d get out and watch as the magnificent snakes slithered across, unconcerned by the humans nearby.

Curled rattlesnake
Image by Usman Khaleel (Moe) from Pixabay

My father, a physician, correctly diagnosed a bite a neighbor had received while working under his trailer at the RV park we stayed in. The man thought he had been bitten by a spider, but my father told him to proceed immediately to the ER, since he had been in fact been bitten by a Pygmy Rattler. This correct diagnosis saved the man’s hand. When I worked at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, I was privileged to see several Eastern Coral Snakes. These shy snakes were rarely seen.

Consequently, I thought Ft. Myers and Sanibel would be good places to peddle my book about rattlesnakes. I was surprised and saddened to learn that the native venomous snakes are no longer found in the area. Sadly, Eastern Coral Snakes have not been documented since 2002.

What a tremendous loss to the ecosystems.

Would a book like Don’t Me Rattle! have made a difference? Maybe if people had been educated, they would have worked to preserve these species. We’ll never know now.

But you can help educate people about the value of rattlesnakes, which eat insects and rodents we humans don’t like. And tell them their venom is actually a digestive aid and their only defense if something tries to hurt them. The rattle-sound is meant to warn, not to scare—just step away and avoid a meeting.

Not only is Don’t Make Rattle! filled with educational and entertaining information, you’ll find a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake workbook and a U.S. Rattlesnake coloring pages book on the LyricPower.net website.

A book cover, with a Native American 'feel,' and a painting of a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

a white and light blue book cover with an image of a western diamondback rattlesnake

yellow book cover with rattlesnake image and list of workbook pages

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Maybe I Should’ve Brought the Other Book, Too by Elaine A. Powers, Author

female author sitting at book signing table, books in the background
Me, signing books at Tohono Chul Museum Gift Shop

July 13 was the 2019 Tohono Chul Bloom Night. If you’re not familiar with the night-blooming Cereus, the cactus only blooms at night and they all bloom on the same night, once each year! It’s incredible.

Linda Wolfe of Tohono Chul gave me the idea to write about the night-blooming Cereus, and Lee Mason provided the information about these amazing cacti. I finished writing The Queen of the Night: The Night-blooming Cereus just in time for the big night. I was delighted to be able to sign the books as they were purchased in the greenhouse gift shop.

The staff and visitors were excited about the flowers, but another local created a bit of excitement. A rattlesnake came out to enjoy the evening, as well. Fortunately, everyone got along.

But it make me wonder if maybe I should have had a few copies of my rattlesnake book with me to sign, as well.  Something to think about for next year.

Of course, you don’t have to wait until next year to get your copies. 🙂

a light brown book cover with green lettering: Queen of the Night: Night Blooming Cereus, with illustration of a white flower
A favorite in Southern Arizona where the Night-blooming Cereus bloom all together, one night per year

Don’tMakeMeRattleA brown book cover, with a circle with blue sky, with a rattlesnake popping out of the circle, title: Don't Make Me Rattle

Everything you ever wanted to know about rattlesnakes, written in rhyme, with beautiful, colorful illustrations.

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Is the Snake Oviparous, Ovoviviparous or Viviparous? By Elaine A. Powers, Author

Snakes are reptiles and as such, they produce eggs. Snakes that lay eggs are called oviparous. The eggs are incubated in the natural world until they hatch. Most “common” snakes fall into this category.

However, there are two other categories of reproducing snakes. Some keep the eggs inside their bodies where the baby snakes hatch and are then released as live young. The rattlesnake is an example of this. These snakes are called ovoviviparous.

As amazing as ovoviviparous snakes are, even more incredible are the viviparous snakes, which reproduce in a manner similar to mammals. Viviparous snakes develop their young inside their bodies without an egg shell. The mothers nourish their developing young through a placenta and yolk sac, which is very unusual in reptiles. Boa constrictors, like the Bahamian boas, are examples of this reproductive method.

To learn even more about rattlesnakes and boa constrictors, check out my books, Don’t Make Me Rattle! and Bahamian Boas: A Tabby Tale.

A brown book cover, with a circle with blue sky, with a rattlesnake popping out of the circle, title: Don't Make Me Rattle

A children's book cover, brown background, orange and yellow lettering, with images of snakes from the Bahamas
BAHAMIAN BOAS: A TABBY TALE Now Available at Amazon

 

And check out Lyric Power Publishing’s fun, educational supplements, our workbooks and activity sheets on snakes, tortoises, turtles, birds, plants and rocks!

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How Does the Rattlesnake Drink Water? By Elaine A. Powers, Author

A colorful, red and gold illustration of a rattlesnake
From the book “Don’t Make Me Rattle!”

With the start of the monsoon season, you may be wondering about the animals that live in this harsh desert environment. With an annual rainfall of only 12 inches, having water to drink is a significant issue. Rattler bodies are adapted to prevent unnecessary water loss: the scales are impermeable, the snakes don’t urinate and they can detect water with their incredible sense of smell and taste.

Rattlers take advantage of rain by drinking from puddles, of course.  But more impressive, is that they collect water on their skin to drink. This amazing behavior is shown in this illustration from Don’t Make Me Rattle!, a book I wrote in rhyme to make learning about rattlesnakes fun!

This image was created by the talented Tucsonan, Nick Thorpe.

 

 

A brown book cover, with a circle with blue sky, with a rattlesnake popping out of the circle, title: Don't Make Me Rattle

Lyric Power Publishing also publishes supplemental, educational and fun activity sheets and workbooks. Want to learn all about rattlesnakes while keeping busy this summer? Click below to see all that is inside these masterful workbooks.

a white and light blue book cover with an image of a western diamondback rattlesnake

A Book Cover, Colorful Dotted Border, Yellow Background, Orange letters My Book About United States Rattlesnakes, with an image of a Rock Rattlesnake and a list of US Rattlers

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Reptiles in My Neighborhood by Elaine A. Powers, Author

In this post, I’d like to tell you about some of the common reptiles that live in my neighborhood in the Sonoran Desert.

Illustration of a Red Racer, or Coachwhip snake Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum cingulum) is a slender nonvenomous snake with variable coloring to help in camouflage. In Tucson, Arizona, coachwhips that are pink to red in color are called Red Racers. The pattern on the scales give the snake a braided look, like an old-time leather coach whip. Their large eyes provide good eyesight. In times of trouble, they prefer to rapidly slither away (considered one of the fastest snakes) but, if cornered, they will rise up, hiss, vibrate the tips of their tails to simulate the sound of a rattlesnake, and strike quickly and repeatedly.

The coachwhip is associated with several Western fables. One is that the snake bites its own tail to form a hoop, then rolls in pursuit of its prey. Another is that a coachwhip will chase a person, coil around him, and then lash him to death with its tail. The snake checks the person for life by inserting its tail into the person’s nose. If the person isn’t dead, the snake will continue the lashing.  Of course, none of these stories are true.

image of desert spiny lizard on a rock
Desert Spiny Lizard; Photo by Skeeze from Pixabay

Desert Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus magister) is a large, stocky lizard of southwestern Arizona. The male’s body features a purple stripe near the neck.

 

Illustration of western diamondback rattler
Illustration of Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

 

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) This snake is known for its distinctive rattle when threatened. The keratin rattle mechanism at the tip of the tail twitches up to 100 times per second. The dark diamond-shaped pattern on its back identifies this common Tucson rattler.

Rattlesnakes belong to a group of venomous snakes called pit vipers and are found in a wide range of habitats. The pits, located between the nostrils and the eyes, are used in sensing the heat of other animals, and are sensitive enough to detect a body only a fraction of a degree warmer than the ambient air. Rattlers usually hunt at night, preferring small nocturnal mammals. Rattlesnakes are important in controlling the populations of disease-carrying rodents.

If you want to learn about this fascinating snake, I recommend my picture book, Don’t Make Me Rattle! You’ll also find a 46-page Diamondback Workbook here, which is used by teachers, tutors and parents to supplement children’s educations.

image of children's workbook cover, with picture of western diamondback rattler and a listing of the activity sheets inside

A brown book cover, with a circle with blue sky, with a rattlesnake popping out of the circle, title: Don't Make Me Rattle