Shelter From the Rain

Heavy rain on Tues. evening, with showers and thunderstorms into the morning.  But then came the clearing and the sunshine – and the discovery of what some critters do to seek shelter from the rain.

Cecropia moth

Just outside my studio there is a shagbark hickory tree, with large, wide leaves.  As it turns out – a perfect hiding place from the rain.

A Cecropia moth, our largest native moth, clings to the underside of one of the leaves.  Wings folded, this moth was not disturbed by my attempts to photograph it, which proved extremely difficult.  The breeze kept the leaves in constant motion,  and I had to point the camera up toward the now-bright sky.  So, the photos are not great, but enough to show you what I found.

At one point I did try to hold the leaf still with one hand, while attempting to work the camera with the other.  When I did that, the moth opened his wings – possibly to scare me off with those spots!  They look like holes in his wings in this picture, but they are just its spots.  Not wanting to disturb the moth any further, I gave up and left it alone.

There were several black beetles clustered around the leaf stems, just a few leaves away from the moth.  I haven’t taken the time to identify them yet, but one of the scarab or stag beetles, I think.  There were at least half a dozen.  Again, very difficult to get a decent photo with the leaves swaying in the breeze.

And finally, right under the window frame, another huge spider.  What is it with spiders and my studio building? I’m not sure what species this one is either – have to hit the books and find out.  It should be fairly easy to find, given the striping and size – and I’ll post it back here when I do.   Until then, I’m with Ron in Harry Potter – “Why couldn’t it be butterflies?”

Added  Note:  I took the time to research this and I think the spider is a six-spotted fishing spider.  It says I can tell also by the “undersurface paler, except for six black spots between leg bases.”  So I’m supposed to turn this thing over and have a look at its belly?  Seriously?

Cold Sleep and Sunshine

I was tending nets on a chilly, foggy morning a few days ago when I noticed several bumblebees on the underside of the goldenrod flowers.  These particular goldenrod plants were still in the shade, and a bit frosty. The bees were pretty frosty too.  Apologies for the blurry photo, but it was pretty difficult to get a good macro shot of the underside of a goldenrod swaying in the breeze – but if you look closely, you’ll see the beads of frost on the flower – and on the bee – especially its legs, wings and butt end.  Of course I know that lots of insects find shelter and go dormant on cold nights and I’ve often watched butterflies in particular, but this was the first time I’d found bumblebees on goldenrod.  It was sort of fitting.

As I watched the sunshine sliding down the field and the flowers beginning to warm, little bee antennae began waving, ever so slowly.  Then first one leg, then the other, in slow motion, but moving nevertheless.  In no time at all, both bees and flowers were nearly thawed.  It never ceases to amaze me the way Nature takes care of its own.  This is fast becoming my favorite field ever – can’t wait for spring!

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