Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

“Spider lily”

with 16 comments

I often find small crab spiders on rain lilies (Zephyranthes chlorosolen), the most recent time being on August 23rd. Click the excerpt below from a different frame to get a much closer look at the spider.


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The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) measures the international scholastic performance of 15-year-olds in mathematics, science, and reading. You can see the 2018 results for 77 or 78 countries. In all three subjects China was #1. The United States came in 13th in reading, 18th in science, and a dismal 37th in mathematics.

That’s what I reported last year. At the end of August this year came worse news:

In a grim sign of the pandemic’s impact, math and reading scores for 9-year-olds across the U.S. plummeted between 2020 and 2022.

The declines erase decades of academic progress. In two years, reading scores on a key national test dropped more sharply than they have in over 30 years, and math scores fell for the first time since the test began in the early 1970s.

Put another way: It’s as if 9-year-olds were performing at the same level in math as 9-year-olds did back in 1999, and at the same reading level as in 2004.

How could they not, after so many American schools canceled in-person classes during large parts of the two years that the Covid-19 pandemic lasted? At the behest of teachers’ unions, plenty of schools expelled students from in-person learning even after teachers had gotten vaccinated—and long after researchers had determined in the first few months of the pandemic that children were practically immune to harmful consequences from the virus.

And of course the people in charge or our educational “system”—I hate to call anything so chaotic, inefficient, unfair, and counter-productive a system—those people who prattle on endlessly about “systemic racism,” made things worse with their harmful policies:

Reading and math score declines were most severe among students who were performing at the lowest levels. That means kids who hadn’t yet mastered skills like addition and multiplication, or who were working on simple reading tasks, saw their scores fall the most.

The gap between higher- and lower-performing students was already growing before COVID hit, but federal officials say the pandemic appears to have exacerbated that divide.

Nice going, education bureaucrats and teachers’ unions!

You can read more about the depressing findings in an August 31st article.


© 2002 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 10, 2022 at 4:32 AM

16 Responses

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  1. Long legs in a gentle embrace! Insects would think otherwise.

    Peter Klopp

    September 10, 2022 at 10:37 AM

  2. Zephyranthes chlorosolen is not even a real lily. Like Agapanthus orientalis, it is a lily of denial. tee hee (That was the theme for my Six on Saturday post for today.)


    September 10, 2022 at 11:43 AM

    • Some sources put Zephyranthes chlorosolen (formerly Cooperia drummondii) in the Amaryllidaceae, while other sources put it in Liliaceae. For example:


      I can’t tell which one is correct.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 10, 2022 at 12:32 PM

      • What?! I was not aware of such confusion. I just assumed that it is in the Amaryllidaceae family. It just seems to fit. However, I never really investigated. It obviously ‘looks’ right, and does not look like a real lily.


        September 10, 2022 at 1:00 PM

        • The majority of sources I checked go with Amaryllidaceae, but perhaps some recent genetic evidence supports a change to Liliaceae. If it weren’t the weekend, I might call over to the university and see if I could get a clarification.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 10, 2022 at 1:33 PM

          • Physiologically, they are not even similar. I suspect that someone classified them as Liliaceae just because of their common name, and others may have copied the mistake.


            September 10, 2022 at 2:33 PM

          • Just to add to the complexity (or confusion), when I started trying to sort all this out, I found a source that claimed genetic sequencing now posits no distinction between the Amaryllidaceae and the Liliaceae. ‘Sources’ being what they are these days, who knows how accurate that is, but one thing’s certain: whatever the name, our native rain lilies are pure delight.


            September 10, 2022 at 7:24 PM

            • That which we call a lily, by any other name would be a delight.

              What your source said is just the sort of thing I’d expect to have caused the confusion. For example, recent genetic evidence caused botanists to move the entire milkweed family into the dogbane family, with the milkweeds now sitting as a subfamily within it. Even more momentously, a whopping seven previously independent botanical families have now become subfamilies within the enlarged asparagus family.

              Steve Schwartzman

              September 10, 2022 at 7:37 PM

  3. Handsome crab spider. After seeing Ann Mackay’s spider lily in a recent post that is what I was expecting.

    Steve Gingold

    September 10, 2022 at 3:12 PM

  4. I had hoped the refuges got some of the significant rains that we’ve received, but at Brazoria today that clearly wasn’t so. There is water in the freshwater ponds now, but they have a long way to go before a duck can float there.

    That said, the rain lilies were everywhere, especially in the ditches. There weren’t any dense colonies, but they still were a beautiful sign that at least some rain had arrived. I didn’t see any spiders among them, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t around. They’ve perfected stealthy lurking as a hunting technique.


    September 10, 2022 at 7:29 PM

    • I’m sorry Brazoria didn’t prove as waterful as you’d hoped it would be. Based on my experience, spiders must have indeed been lurking among the many water lilies you saw. For all the ones I’ve seen on rain lilies, I’m sure I must have missed plenty of others, given how well they usually blend in.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 10, 2022 at 7:43 PM

  5. Its red face really stands out! Nicely seen and shown, Steve!


    September 12, 2022 at 9:45 AM

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