Friday, November 7, 2014

The Little Things...

Morning dawns crisp, clear and quiet in the shadow of the lake.
Not much stirring this side of the dam, other than a few dozen vultures wheeling about in the blue, testing the thermals. 
No deer down below, nor rabbits, nor a single squirrel... only a small flock of crows and a solitary great blue working the quiet shallows just about where the field meets the wood line. 
With so little action to entertain the lens, we kneel in the dewy grass for a change of perspective...
and we begin to notice the little things.

Woolly worm devours a wild lettuce stem.
Next summer, it will assume its tiger moth guise, but for now this very hungry caterpillar has polished off a meal of tender autumn greens, and turned its attention to the stalks.
We're not woolly worm whisperers, but this one seems to be sporting a wide brown band. 
Warm winter ahead?  

While we're down here, we notice the tiny asters, situated sporadically around the perimeter of the field, squatting here and there right up to the margin of the forest itself.
And as we zoom in, still more little things come into focus.

Surprisingly, the bold black, orange and white of Ailanthus webworm moth, Atteva aurea, renders it virtually invisible, its intricate pattern of irregular spots and bands turning something into nothing right before our eyes.

As our senses attune more fully to the miniature world unfolding at our feet, more creatures emerge to attest to the allure of the dew-laden asters.

The little child inside tugs at our hand, urgently whispering "Run!", as we realize how many wasps have assembled at the asters this morning.
These are clearly the stinging kind, members of the paper wasp clan, Polistes sp.

 We recognize these two as the "red wasps" of our childhood which built large paper nests in the eaves of our house, and stung us more times than we'd like to remember. Today, however, there's no nest to defend, and the chill air seems to have slowed them a bit and reinforced the urge to nectar, so we steel our nerves and camera on...

Green and bronze blow flies abound among the blossoms as well, looking for all the world like little winged gems. Unfortunately, vivid memories of past encounters with these creatures in less savory surroundings taints our perception to this day. There's no denying, however, the critical and highly beneficial role blow fly larvae play as decomposers of organic matter.  

Yet another wasp (or is it a bee?) rudely reminds us of our entomological ignorance, prompting a muttered pledge to dust off the insect field guides upon our return home.  

Green bottle fly is camera shy. . . 

but bumblebee is oblivious to our intrusion.

Two more tiny wasps (or bees), or one of each, leave us in awe at the unexpected biodiversity in our little patch of asters. 

With dozens of different nectarers up to their snouts in aster flowers,

it's no real surprise to find a carnivore or two lurking nearby. 
Carolina mantis, Stagmomantis carolina,gives the camera a guilty nod before returning to the hunt,

while a jumping spider, Salticidae sp., eyes us octagonally.

Ctenucha virginica, a striking little moth, calls our attention back to the asters, and we marvel anew at the diverse diminutia in the dew-dampened meadow.

Another paper wasp appears, in this case not our old friend red, sporting bold yellow stripes and a healthy appetite for aster juice.

And, at long last, we spy a solitary honeybee, or else a pretty clever lookalike. 

Our hour in the asters is at an end, 
but we leave with renewed appreciation

for the little things in life.

1 comment:

  1. it is the little things in life that call the loudest to be, lovely post.