INSECT EXTRAVAGANZA.............I must be on an "insect roll". I had the good fortune of finding Cecropia moths that had emerged from their cocoons. I had been holding these cocoons through the winter in my garage, keeping an eye on them and periodically sprinkling them with water. If they were left outside, they would experience rain, ice and snow, but also may be eaten by other animals such as birds. When I found the moths, I quickly realized there were both a male and a female, so I made a home out of two butterfly nets, clipped together with clothespins so I could continue to observe them. These are our largest moths and quite beautiful with colorful markings. You can tell the males from the females by checking their antennae. Those on a male are more feathery than the females. So far, there has been no lovemaking, but I continue to check their activity.
My next insect encounter was with an unusual caterpillar. With horns and bumps and a mottled coloration, this larva looks like an animal dropping? I happened to find it on the leaf of a cherry tree. Finding one, I looked on every other cherry tree in the area and found no more. How lucky was I to find that one! I checked my caterpillar book for its identity and learned that it may turn into one of three butterflies! So I am in the midst of feeding it cherry leaves in the hopes of not only viewing its adult stage, but also its pupa.
As for spring flowers blooming into the picture, there are quite a few to report. The Pink Ladyslippers are now attracting attention, hopefully by Bumblebees that pollinate them. The Bunchberry is in bloom, keeping company with the yellow Clintonia. We've had a lot of rain in the past week, and the leaves of this Bunchberry have caught some of the droplets. This plant is related to Dogwood, as its flower and leaves are very similar to that plant. Each one of those tiny flowers in the center will produce a red berry which will be bunched with others, if fertilized.
Several days have passed since I wrote the above. The Cecropia Moths did mate (for a day), after which I released the male to find other mates. I have kept the female who is proceeding to lay eggs. remember, these moths whole purpose in life is to mate, and if female, lay eggs. They do no feeding and only live for about 2 weeks, but these days have been exciting for me. As for that strange caterpillar, it did little eating, but is now in a chrysalis. Some day soon I shall know what its adult form will be. The big news on the shoreline involves the sighting of large whales off shore. Yesterday I went out to try and confirm the sighting, but someone said they had headed east toward Seguin. I hope they come back and stay around for awhile. It feels like summer here. Wish you were here. 6/5/09 Ronnie into bugs.