THE POLYPHEMUS CATERPILLAR!
It's time for an update on the Polyphemus caterpillars I have been raising! Remember my finding this moth floating in salt water? It laid eggs and I have been caring for them. Here is how they have grown on a diet of Sugar Maple leaves! What Beauties! I continue to give them fresh leaves and have three growing larvae. They aren't very active, and often remain in this position well attached to a leaf or twig. I've also had emerging Monarchs these days. Their chrysalises are changing and bringing forth beautiful butterflies. Unfortunately, the weather will be a factor as they head south, so they better get moving. It is still warm up here, but we have now a wet period with storm Kyle threatening our shoreline.
I did go out again to check on the whale, recovering another large rib. The vertebrae are still well locked into a skin tight casing. I have plans to again go out this week, but worry that a big shoreline storm may take the carcass out to sea! Time will tell.
Yesterday (Saturday), I went on my first fungi foray of the year over in Georgetown. The woods were quite wet, in fact we had the outing in between showers. What impressed me most were the number of Indian Pipe clumps in those woods. I had never seen so many. It was hard to walk in some places without stomping on patches of those beautiful white plants. Remember, these are not fungi, though they suggest a relationship. They are seed plants with flowers, stalks and leaves - all white or pinkish. They do require a connection to those fungal threads that permeate the soil we walk on...to provide the nutrition source they lack. Green plants make their own food, but these white plants are dependent on other sources. The fungal threads serve as a middleman in providing nourishment from its green neighbors.
We did not get anything other than rain from storm Kyle. I went down to Totman Cove to see what might have washed in with the high tide surge. I picked up many small Surf Clams that had been sucked out of the sand and thrown on shore. I returned them to wet areas while walking around, just scouting that beautiful territory. Here are some of the live clams I found. The gulls eat these when they are left exposed. In the picture, you also see a Moonsnail shell, a drilled Mussel Shell, a chunk of sponge and a small colorful Smooth Periwinkle.
Since I wrote the above, one of my Polyphemus Moths has made a cocoon! I also just returned from another trip out to check on the whale carcass. This time I had some muscles (not mussels!) along for help. We were able to extract several vertebrae and more ribs. The big effort was disconnecting the skull which we hauled over to a place where hopefully it will continue to bleach and may ultimately be retrievable. I carried out the first vertebra, with more available on subsequent trips. It was just beautiful out there on Small Point with waves crashing and the sun peeking through the clouds. We worked up a sweat in our efforts that will be shown in my next report. Can you wait?! I wish you had been with me. 9/30/08 Ronnie, feeling like Jonah in the whale!