I often hear, “it’s just a weed” or “it’s just a bug”. Despite their humble beginnings, I find everything in the natural world beautiful. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there a few critters that make me squeamish. Wild rats, did I mention rats? I know the irrational fear comes from reading too many history books about the plague.
My new nature series, Bridgeville Beauties highlights my finds in my area. The weeds, bugs, and critters of Michigan will be my area of focus.
Starting with the first one, the Buttonbush or Bush Willow is one of my favorite plants to photograph. Growing up to 12 feet, I generally find the white flowering bush near the creek line. The white flowers with spike-like yellow heads are oddly beautiful.
Attracting bees and hummingbirds, I find the Buttonbush to be a very beneficial “weed”.
I seem to have an abundance of grasshoppers this year. Ranging from bright yellow to a deep green, the little insects jump around as soon as I walk pass. Of course, I do have a lot of weeds right now. So I am certain they are enjoying eating the extra foliage.
if a man cannot hear the lonely cry of a whippoorwill
or the arguments of the frogs around a pond at night?”
Chief Seattle, 1854
Today, April 30, 2016, is Save the Frogs day. I love listening to the frogs. When I hear the sounds of frogs croaking loudly, I know warmer weather is being ushered in. I look forward to their beautiful sounds after each long winter. The different croaking sounds create a song over the nearby fields, ponds, and river flats that surround my house.
Frogs serve as an important role in our fragile ecosystem. In tadpole form, the growing frogs keep water areas clean from over growing algae. As the little frogs grow into adulthood, they begin eating insects as part of their diet. The consumption of insects is important in keeping the potential spread of diseases down.
For example, mosquitos have been known to transmit diseases to humans. Frogs help in keeping the mosquito population down. Without frogs, mosquitos and other insects would be out of control. An increasing population of insects would create serious pest control problems for humans.
Frogs are also known as an indicator species. When the frogs’ living environment becomes polluted, the results will be easy to view in the frogs’ offspring. The new frogs will be born with abnormalities which provide a warning to humans living in the same area. Protecting the frogs’ natural environment will, in turn, protect humans.
Honestly, I cannot imagine the world without frogs that let me know the Earth is awakening after a winter slumber.
I love dragonflies. I could watch and photograph these fascinating little insects for hours. I recently sat in the field and just observed their behavior. I was working on some writing; I needed inspiration for flying fairies. The dragonflies always help me with my creative needs. As I watched them hovering, flying backwards and forward, and swooping all around me, I wrote with great wonder. I decided to do a little research on these flying beauties.
Interesting Facts about Dragonflies
As I glanced through the different fact, I found these to be the most interesting.
• Incredible Eyes: The dragonflies’ eyes have around 30,000 individual lenses or ommatidia which give them a rather incredible panoramic view of their surroundings. Each of those lenses provides an image. The brain of the dragonfly will use all of those individual images to make one picture. The eye allows for the entire color spectrum, UV light, and light polarization to be viewed.
• Wings: The dragonfly has two sets of wings; each wing can work independently. The extra set allows the dragonfly to slow the movement of the wings down. On an average, the dragon fly will flaps the two sets of wings around 30 beats per second. The independent movement of the wings gives the dragonfly the ability to hover and fly in all directions. The dragonfly also has the ability to change directions instantly which helps if been sought by a predator. And, can reach speeds of up to 36 mph.
• Food: A dragonfly eats mosquitoes and flies. I couldn’t figure out why I have seen so many dragonflies this year. Well, the wet weather created an overly abundant breeding ground for mosquitoes. The dragonflies have been enjoying a grand feast.
• Species: Currently there are around 5,000 species of dragonflies. All the dragonflies are part of the order Odanata which roughly translates to “toothed one”. The dragonfly can be found almost anywhere in the world where the environment is habitable. A dragonfly cannot live in the Antarctica; the little insects love a more tropical feel. The hot and humid weather here in mid-Michigan right now must seem like paradise to them.
• Ancient Creature: The dragonfly has been around for around 250 million years. The largest fossil reports the ancestor relative had a wingspan of around 2 ½ feet. Can you imagine that flying around the back field? Just amazing to consider.
The next time, you view a dragonfly consider how incredible this insect is or picture a fairy and let you imagination run wild.