Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Hanging out at/on trumpets

with 17 comments

The at was me. The on was ants. The date was August 14. The place was the northeast quadrant of Mopac and US 183. The bud above was about to open. Its species was Campsis radicans. Its common name is trumpet vine. If I were an ant I’d probably have stuck my head in there too. The “trumpet” below with seven sisters on it is purple bindweed, Ipomoea cordatotriloba.


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In recent months WordPress has been appending a grid of ads to our posts. Two days ago one of the ads looked interesting, so I clicked on it and got taken to a site called USAFacts. Here’s how it describes itself:

USAFacts provides a data-driven portrait of the American population, US governments’ finances, and governments’ impact on society. We are a nonpartisan, not-for-profit civic initiative without a political agenda. We provide vital spending, revenue, demographic, and performance information as a free public service and are committed to maintaining and expanding our available data in the future.

USAFacts believes that facts deserve to be heard. Democracy is only successful when it’s grounded in truth. We’re here to provide that grounding with trusted government data that’s both easy to access and understand. We standardize data straight from government agencies and present it in plain language with helpful visualizations so you can understand the history of programs and policies. Americans deserve unbiased facts straight from the government to have serious, reasoned, and informed debate.

As the largest source for standardized US government data, USAFacts offers something unique. We exclusively use publicly available government data presenting a vast array of reports on US spending, revenue, population and demographics, and policy outcomes. We don’t make judgments or prescribe policies. Whether government money is spent wisely or not, whether the quality of life is improving or getting worse — that’s for you to decide.


Here are a few facts I gleaned from browsing USAFacts.

  • Between 2010 and 2021, Texas had the largest growth [of any state] with 4.3 million more residents. Illinois had the largest decline with 169,076 fewer people. Among counties, Maricopa County, Arizona had the largest growth with 671,405 more people. Baltimore city, Maryland had the largest decline with 44,444 fewer residents. (Look at those five 4’s in a row.)
  • Obesity hasn’t doubled. It’s nearly tripled in the United States over the last fifty years…. The trend in obesity is not evenly distributed throughout American demographics. Low-income Americans were more likely than higher earners to experience obesity in 2017. Roughly 36 percent of those earning less than $15,000 a year fit the CDC definition compared to 26 percent of those with incomes greater than $75,000 per year. A similar pattern holds for those with less than a high school education (36 percent). While Asians are the least likely to be obese (11 percent), non-Hispanic blacks and American Indians are the most likely to experience obesity (39 percent for both).
  • Funding for the nation’s education system comes primarily from state and local governments. Federal, state, and local governments spent a combined $997 billion on education in 2019, the most recent year for which data is complete. Spending per student has increased 21% since the 2000–2001 academic year, after adjusting for inflation. 


Don’t delay delving into data delights at USAFacts.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman





Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 20, 2022 at 4:25 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , , ,

17 Responses

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  1. I smiled at your designation of the ants on the bindweed as ‘seven sisters.’ Perhaps we could call them a constellation of ants: even more appropriate given the star-shaped interior of the flower.

    The vibrant orange of the trumpet vine flower brought to mind the sudden appearance of Halloween candies and decorations in the stores. It’s a little early, but given the economy, I suppose it’s to be expected. In any event, a good title for that one might be “Trick or Treat.”


    August 20, 2022 at 8:12 AM

    • I thought “seven sisters” was apt, given the fact that all the worker ants are females born from eggs produced by the same queen. And as a Subaru driver I can’t help but think of the Seven Sisters of the Pleiades constellation, which is what Subaru designates in Japanese. You’re right that the bindweed star reinforces the association.

      For years now, stores like Costco have started displaying holiday-related merchandise months in advance. Whether the current state of the economy has accelerated that, I don’t know. I may be heading over there shortly, in which case I’ll see what Halloween stuff is already out.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 20, 2022 at 8:30 AM

    • I like the description of a ‘constellation of ants’…and I think there may be several galaxies of them in my garden… 🙂

      Ann Mackay

      August 21, 2022 at 10:34 AM

  2. I like watching ants as they are in constant search of food. At first sight, they appear to be aimlessly running around. But on closer inspection, they all have a purpose in their highly organized society. They communicate with one another. I often see two ants meet for a brief moment, and I am convinced that they’re passing on vital information to each other.

    Peter Klopp

    August 20, 2022 at 9:11 AM

    • I’ve also often noticed that “meet-and-greet” when the paths of two ants intersect. As I understand it, ants exchange information via chemicals in their antennae.

      The running around that you mentioned made my photography difficult, as the ants were in almost constant motion. The burst of a flash was able to stop the action, and in addition the extra light let me stop down the aperture enough to keep all the ants in the second view in focus.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 20, 2022 at 9:34 AM

  3. Seven sisters is a good name since all ants in a colony are daughters of the same queen. Our bindweeds are mostly white and a combo of white and pink. I’d like a purple one even more.

    Steve Gingold

    August 20, 2022 at 3:39 PM

    • I used the phrase “seven sisters” for the reason you mentioned and also because the prominent star on the bindweed ties in to the constellation of the Pleiades, called Subaru in Japanese. We also have Texas bindweed here, which has white flowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 20, 2022 at 6:59 PM

  4. You’re so clever with your titles! I wish I was clever and witty like that.

    I blame all the corn oil/fat, and soy for our USA obesity and our food pyramid being oh so wrong! When I was a girl it seemed like the govt. had our 6 and we were all in for the USA, but the last 30 years…not so much. 😭 45 years ago very few us were obese. We need the Mediterranean diet which is what I try to eat daily and walk or hike to maintain my weight.

    I love Bindweed. I call them all Morning Glories which has a name so uplifting you can’t be blue or mad just saying its name. 😀

    Your top image I only see a manakin wearing a bathing suit Bikini top with an opportunistic ant highlighting the good bits. I wish I was able to still wear a bikini. Sadly, those days are long gone.


    August 21, 2022 at 1:11 AM

    • You’re clever in seeing a bikini in the trumpet vine bud, and the ant as a voyeur; I don’t think that ever would have occurred to me on my own, however good I am with words. We each have our talents.

      I’ve heard and read good things about the Mediterranean diet, which is fine with me. We eat lots of olives and my wife uses olive oil for various dishes. We also eat lots of salads. Many Americans—increasingly many, it seems—eat unhealthy foods.

      What botanists call Convolvulaceae is indeed known in non-technical terms as the morning glory family, even as individual species go by common names that don’t include the phrase morning glory. I’ll side with you in admitting that morning glory is a more poetic and inspirational name than bindweed.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 21, 2022 at 6:20 AM

  5. The radial symmetry and vibrant colors of the trumpet flower, with bonus ants, caught my eyes. Thanks for the link!

    Alessandra Chaves

    August 21, 2022 at 7:15 AM

    • The purple bindweed flower in the bottom picture is a “poster child” for radial symmetry. I find that the orange and purple in the two photographs go well together. You’re welcome for the link to that great trove of information. Too many people overlook facts and statistics when forming opinions.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 21, 2022 at 7:24 AM

  6. Sadly sometimes I do that too …

    Alessandra Chaves

    August 21, 2022 at 9:30 AM

    • This was different from all the other WordPress ads I’d noticed (I don’t pay much attention to them). None of those other ads interested me at all.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 21, 2022 at 6:28 PM

  7. We have the wild white bindweed that strangles everything here – but I’d be more tolerant of it if it was that lovely purple!

    Ann Mackay

    August 21, 2022 at 10:36 AM

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