Category Archives: ecology

The Chrysalis Plot Thickens

And along came larva #2. Having concern that #1 (now a pupa) is dying on the vine, I quickly jarred this one, using more visible glass (not plastique) so that we hopefully get to view at least one emerging Monarch butterfly.

And so a predator or parasite doesn’t get him outdoors!

I build a gorgeous condo. Does he hang upside down from the perfect stick? No, he hangs from the cheese cloth. So I can’t open the “lid” to show you photos.

He looked a little sickly — note drooping antennae — and did not build his cocoon that night, though I checked many, many times and barely slept.

He goes into the classic J pose. I wait for the big moment. I’m dying to see this with my own eyes.

Nothing.

Annnd the moment you blink, he does it. In broad daylight. I totally missed it again! Though I checked on him every single time I checked the US Open, on TV in another room.

The early hours of the chrysalis (pupa) stage are dicey; the exoskeleton is soft and delicate. So don’t move yours!

Meanwhile, #1 is either rotting or changing color for the big reveal.

He is supposed to turn black or clear. He is turning golden brown. Against all odds, I remain hopeful.

The Chrysalis’ Story

Here you can see he’s getting angular. Clearly something is going on inside. I’ll paraphrase from this gory article. Enzymes are digesting the caterpillar! Inside him are embryonic-type cells growing called “imaginal disks.” One imaginal disk will become, for example, a wing; a butterfly has 4 wings. There are imaginal disks that form the legs, antennae, and other parts.

Inside this thing, until a few days ago, was a — yuck — “bag of rich fluid media” that the cells started growing on. He has been getting shorter.

“The entire internal contents of the caterpillar — the muscles, the entire digestive system, even the heart…the nervous system — is totally rebuilt. It’s like you took your…Ford into the shop and left it there for a week and it came out as a Cadillac.

What’s nerve racking is the black line at top. I can’t tell if it’s a discoloration or an open slit. There are parasites that bore a hole, but I’ve read nothing about a slit.

I add this shot because it shows a little better that the dots along the slit are an exquisite gold that goes beautifully with the chrysalis’ green.

The nail biter continues, folks. I do hope he’s still alive in there, parasite-free. This is why we don’t watch nature shows. Who can take the anxiety?

It won’t be long now, either way. We’ll know by Friday, you and I.

A Watched Chrysalis Never…

To refresh (from 7th grade science class?), butterflies go through four stages: egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa (chrysalis), and adult butterfly.

Friend says: 8-14 days till he emerges. He is on Day 7 and the chrysalis is getting lumpier, pointier. I believe the wings are forming inside! I’ll report how in the next post.

Cool feature: you know when he’s about to hatch because the chrysalis turns black or clear. Then it’s about 48 hours. Can’t wait.

He or she? The gender story is complicated.

Shaping Up Nicely

Never seen it with a dangler bloom like this. I’m impressed!

The question is: will it open by Saturday night? Because it’s moving Sunday morning. Remember, it’s the NIGHT Blooming Cereus.

No way it’ll make the drive on Sunday intact. A new component to the nailbiter. My guess is Saturday is the night. But you just never know with NBC.

The Angle of the Dangle

Alas, Night Blooming Cereus bud #2 shriveled and died.

The way this beauty is hanging bodes poorly, but we’ll see. There is a fragility in how the flowers are connected to the plant–they often fall off before blooming.

As usual, it’s a nail biter, folks.

Blossom, Blossom, Who’s Got The Blossom?

It’s a miracle, children. A Flag Day miracle.

Thing never blooms this early.

You have to look hard.

Night Blooming — But Cereusly, Folks

My Night Blooming Cereus, which has suddenly grown up, is going to put on a hell of a show this year. Multiple blooms, surely!

It’s gotten so leggy I can’t move it to the middle of the room for a viewing party this year or the delicate flowers can fall off, which I assure you is tragic. No one can come over to see it anyway — unless I set up some ridiculous one-way walk-through with floor arrows and a :15 timer (which I just might do). BUT: the window. Hmm. There’s a spot by the hydrangea for people to view NBC’s glory from outside, like a creature in a zoo. I can open a different window and, with a fan, blow the scent all over the neighborhood; its smell is half the fun.  I’ll do a time-lapse for ya if the reflective glass allows a decent recording.

You can see the first year here, with some background info.

(The sad part is that any COVID shopper will understand “floor arrows.”)

And Earth Said: Have I Got Your Attention?

Many people believe the Earth is angry at us. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do consider Earth to be a living thing with a consciousness of sorts. Regardless, there is no question that nature is running amok. Nature seems to be telling us, intentionally or otherwise, to get our act together and stop trashing the planet.

I won’t distress Dear Reader with stats about disappearing frog species, nor debate climate change here; just ask a pro tennis player or competitive skier. I’ll wax anecdotal instead. Feel free to submit your own observations. Here’s the short list.

Coyote. I watched a blonde, unkempt dog stroll up a Massachusetts driveway in broad daylight. Oops, it wasn’t a dog. Pack animals roam solo? In daylight? Coyotes are blonde outside of Vermont? Do they have more fun?

Mice.  In August, I stepped on a young mouse in my room. I do hope it was dead already, but from its fresh little entrails I could tell it had been alive…recently. What self-respecting rodent goes indoors in summer? Was it too hot outside for mousey? Came in for the A/C? Same week in Bellows Falls, a feisty country mouse scampered around us in my cousin’s driveway unafraid, then leapt into the manifold of his pick-up. Why?

Rabbits.The new generation of bunnies in our neighborhood is fat, confident, and more prone to lolling than hopping. You walk up to them and they don’t even stop chewing. Rabbits, like horses, have no real defense besides flight. So why aren’t they fleeing? I sometimes charge them just so they’ll become afraid of humans, which they should be, especially my sniper neighb with the pellet gun. Rabbits, by the way, are not rodents, because of their incisors and canines, guts, sex parts, and poo-eating. Who knew?

Birdsect. I don’t know what the heck this thing is, besides a fuzzy pollinator. First, I thought it was cool, and giant for a bee (hence the nickname). But when I went to photograph it, it became…aggressive. What the heck is it?

Hawk-Bunny Murder-Suicide. A dead hawk was in our street, with a dead baby bunny in its clutches. It looked like a cartoon caption contest in The New Yorker. “Wha’ happen’?”

 

Muskrat Lerv. On Star Island off of Portsmouth, seagulls have inexplicably stopped eating the muskrats, who are now fat, fearless, and overpopulating.

 

 

Dragonflies. It wasn’t until we saw an unusual number of dragonflies — again, just sort of hanging out — that a lake-loving friend and I read up on them. Most fly for only a few days or weeks of their lives, the rest spent as aquatic nymphs (like us!). One flew from my friend’s head to my head, back and forth, as we swam in a pond. Was it energizing or sampling us? Collecting DNA to colonize its next planet should this one melt? We felt honored either way.

 

Bees. There were way more bumble bees this year. And hawks. Even some bats. That’s good!

The animals: why are they unafraid? Do they know something we don’t about our imminent demise? Have they realized we are inferior to them? We are in fact idiots, with our moronic abuse of our own planet. Rather than stockpiling canned goods and ammo for the End of Days, let us try an apology: Dear Earth, We are terribly sorry for our pathetic stewardship. Please know that the people of New England, CO, the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and Cali get it. May other places wake up. You’re gorgeous. Love, Vermont.

Well. Before the waters turn icy, go jump in a lake, river, or ocean. Cold water is renewing, and you adapt to it quicker than ya’d think. Bracing! Great good fun. Good day.

I Buy Used Medical Supplies on eBay

IMG_9663At least I used to joke that I did. Until by mistake it really happened.

I recently ordered on eBay an “open box” of eyeball moisture drops — the disposable kind. Not only was the box open, every single vial was, and empty.   So I kind of bought someone’s recycling. Otherwise known as garbage.

Two K-cup Waste Alternatives

Since Keurig was bought by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters in 2006, the K-cup waste issue has been a long and local one. Here are two alternatives that work. Aside from, obviously, not using them at all.

Problem is, many workplaces have this as the only coffee maker. And I’m pretty sure it’s one of the most re-gifted items ever. People get one as a gift, re-wrap it, pass it on, and on and on, until it finally makes its way to someone who says, “Okay.”

First, if you’ve got a bunch of K-cups you already bought, you can cut the lids off with this little baby and recycle the plastic housings. Not perfect, because recycling is a dirty, energy-consuming process. The recycle a cup® , available all over the place, is fun to use:

recycle-a-cup

Second and better, the reusable  Solofill Cup® vastly improves the “coffee cage” that had in past incarnations brewed a terrible cup of coffee. Available all over the place. Brew on.

solo-fill

 

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