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• Friday, March 05th, 2010

So, here it is, early spring. The birds have just started their territory songs, frogs will start to sing soon and snow birds will return. But right now, hiding patiently are animals that have been here all winter. They’ve endured the amazing snow falls, sheltered themselves from the gusting winds and 33 degree rains; wrapped in their natural blankets, waiting. You probably never noticed them, or mistook them for dead or damaged leaves, but they are there, waiting.
I’m not describing some mysterious creature that sits in wait for unsuspecting victims. I’m talking about certain insects that are dormant through the winter, but soon will wake to begin a new life.

Many insects such as certain butterflies, beetle larva, moths, and others, over-winter as a pupa or adult. When temperatures rise, they stir and soon will reveal themselves. On a recent walk, I discovered some of these beauties.
On a spicebush plant, I found what appeared at first glance to be a dead leaf hanging from the branch. On closer inspection, I discovered this dead leaf was actually rolled up and sheltered a developing Promethea moth. The caterpillars of these large silk moths spin their cocoon using leaves of trees and shrubs.

Looking closely at a few white pine trees, I found several bundles of needles stuck together. The tips of clusters had been nibbled off, revealing a tunnel. This is the winter home of a pine tube moth pupa. These moths will emerge in spring and mate. The female will lay her eggs on new pine needles. The eggs hatch and the larva will tie a few needles together into a new tube and feed though the summer.

 

 

On a recent walk through Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve’s meadow, the brown and tan remains of last years’ grasses offered a great back ground for praying mantis egg cases. These hard, foamy sacs house 100-250 eggs that will hatch. The young mantids make their escape through a specially created section called the “zone of issue”, since the sides of the egg sac are impenetrable.

So next time you’re out and about, take a closer look at familiar things. There might just be something hiding in plain site.

Category: Insects
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