Wednesday, June 15, 2011

BIG Water Bug

Dartmouth, Nova Scotia is often referred to as the City of Lakes. It has lots of them. Little ones, big ones, you name it, turn a corner and there’s another lake. This means there’s lots of really cool wildlife to check out any time you go for a walk or a bike ride in Dartmouth.

Yesterday I decided to take my bike around Spectacle Lake which just happens to be in an industrial park. There had already been a bit of a trail laid down and some boardwalk over the wetter areas, but when I returned yesterday, I discovered that a little more has been developed.

I came across an excellent example of a constructed wetland. Natural wetlands are biofilters, helping to remove pollutants from water. A constructed wetland works in much the same way, as a natural filter of runoff water, storm drain discharge and a block to pollutants and garbage. On the top side of the trail is a rock hill,

on the bottom side of the trail is the constructed wetland with layers of rock, sand, and grasses and rushes. As well, bales of hay and a black “geotextile” (looks like a black tarp) are placed closer to the bottom of the wetland to catch bigger items and keep them from getting into the body of water the wetland is protecting. Very nice.

Also on the trails through the park I came across a vigilant mama or papa osprey, the province’s official bird.

At this time of year, I’m on the lookout for trilliums and lady slippers. The trilliums are almost done, but the lady slippers are in full bloom and as an added bonus I came across a thick patch of pitcher plants. These are carnivorous plants that trap insects in their pitchers in order to boost their nutrient intake. Creepy but cool. While I was taking pictures of these flowers, movement caught my attention. There appeared to be a leaf moving on the surface of the water. Closer inspection revealed it to actually be a giant water bug! What a find! And it was huge, at least 4 inches long. I got a few good pictures of it and desperately wanted to take it home to put under the microscope to get a closer look, but with what would I catch the thing? I hadn’t taken my bug kit on the bike with me (it has everything I need to catch and safely hold bugs) and I didn’t dare try to pick the thing up with my bare hands. These guys bite and they bite hard. So there I am, lying on my tummy on the boardwalk, with my hand alternately reaching out then withdrawing as I debated my chances of catching this thing and getting it into my jacket pocket without getting bitten. Oy, what a dilemma. Over my shoulder, about 100 yards away is a construction crew working on the new RCMP regional headquarters and I know there’s a guy in the crane watching me and probably wondering what the heck I’m doing. I’m also thinking to myself that this bug could bite through my jacket into my side and I don’t want that to happen while I bike back to the car. So I left it. Yeah, I have to admit, this thing scared me a little bit. But I took pictures.

Interestingly enough, some water bugs carry around the eggs on their backs until they hatch. They’re good dads. My dad used to carry me around on his back until I hatched, too…..Happy Father's Day!



steve said...

I read an article on the way to work this morning. It stated that individuals who lack low sunlight levels and had "the kissing disease" were more susceptibe to MS. It sounds a little far fetched to me. I'd love to more kissing and experience a lack of sun!! (wink wink) Then again, I'm a banker, not an MD. Here is the link.

Shauna said...

Hey Steve,

Not news to most of us in this Ms business. There has been a link between lack of Vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin) and Ms for a long time. As well, they've been looking at the link between the EB Virus (Epstein Barr or mononucleosis or the kissing disease) and MS for almost as long.

Living in a northern climate and contracting mono seem to add up to higher susceptibility to MS.

Yes, I had mono during my first year at university. And no, I didn't get it from kissing someone either. Sadly, I probably contracted it from another girl in my residence who I helped take care of during what we thought was a bout with the flu.

So, gestating during the winter months (as I did inutero - the theory being that my mom's lack of vitamin D from sunlight during pregnancy with me contributed), growing up in Canada with a definite lack of sunlight, and contracting measles, mumps, and mono during childhood and adolescence is what probably helped give me a higher susceptibility to MS. Then there are my genes, which may have played a role as well.

They're all pieces of the puzzle.


Have Myelin? said...

I had no idea giant water bugs were capable of biting! =0

Have Myelin? said...

Came by to "bug" you. =p

Christine Newland said...

Hi Shauna,

You haven't posted anything in a while, I've enjoyed reading your blog and wonder if you've switched to a different blog host.

- Christine