Friday, May 16, 2008
My Little Caddisfly
Every day I learn a little bit more about this creature. As it develops more, I can make out more identifying features and have narrowed down the type of caddisfly it is and therefore do better research. In the above pic you can kind of make out wings on the sides of the bug as it floats face down.
So today the little guy seemed to still be struggling to "get out" of his old skin. Turns out the undulating is really just its way of breathing. By squirming it washes water over its surface and it is able to take oxygen through its skin. And what I thought was old skin is really the new wings, legs, and anntennae structure, all folded up. When I came home from work today, it appeared to be unfolding. The Wookie was the one who suggested that was the "newer" part of the animal, which turned on the lightbulb over my head and I was able to better track it down on the internet.
These little creatures come out of their pupa stage v e r y s l o w l y. What I perceived as struggling was actually breathing and growing. After a few more days, I suspect this little guy will float to the surface and prepare for flight.
Imagine you're a trout in a stream looking for something to eat. "Ooooo....a green wormy thing.....", gulp, and that's the end of the caddisfly. Or you go to the surface of the stream and you see a green wormy thing just floating there, wiggling around a little bit as it tries to break the surface tension and escape its former watery domain (sounds rather poetic). So you gulp it down. Good for the trout. Not so good for the caddisfly. But that's why insects have kajillions of eggs. There are enough of these insects that manage to evade becoming breakfast, lunch, or dinner, that the cycle continues.
And sadly, life is short when you're an insect, especially when you become an adult. In many species you don't even get to enjoy a good meal. It's just sex then die. Not even dinner first! Many moths and some caddisfly adults have little in the way of mouths. Some have a piercing probe to suck up nutrition from an available plant, but some have nothing, so die soon after becoming an adult. Their halcyon days are when they're wormy. I find it ironic that gorgeous creatures like moths live for such a short time. Candles in the wind I guess. Which is why I don't feel too guilty in catching adult insects and putting them in the freezer for later study and mounting.
On the fish front, I'm still not a grandmother. I just fear that I'll not be home when the birth occurs and the other two fish will eat the babies. The mother holds off on the cannibalism until about 12 hours after the birth as hormones dictate to her that she's not hungry. After that, "all's fair" as they say.
The wasp larvae seem to be in a holding pattern. I have seen some similar adult species outside recently but not the blue mud daubers that I have. So it'll be a little while yet.
This weekend is a long weekend in Canada (and other commonwealth countries) and next week I'm on vacation. I will be cleaning, gardening, and fundraising for the MS Bike Tour. But no biking yet. Maybe in a couple of weeks.