Sunday, May 26, 2013

Happy Memorial Day!

A white-throated sparrow enjoying spring in Central Park. Click on the photo to enlarge.
Detail from a bronze plaque in the Brooklyn Federal Building and Post Office, remembering postal workers who served as soldiers. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Twig-Mimic Caterpillar

I was walking on the path that circles Pakim Pond in the Brendan T. Byrne State Forest in New Jersey last week. I walked into a gossamer thread that I thought was a spider web. I turned out to be a caterpillar's silken support line. I looked down and saw a "twig" sticking out of my shirt. I was fooled into thinking it was a piece of wood. I tried to brush it off, but it stayed put. I looked more closely. It was a caterpillar!

A twig-mimic caterpillar in the genus Lytrosis. Click to enlarge.

The caterpillar in the photo above is standing on four pro-legs (leg-like stumps with grippy hooks) that are firmly latched to my white shirt. Its head end is sticking out. You can see three pairs of tiny legs just behind the head. If you look closely you can see a thread of silk dangling from the head; it's the caterpillar's belay line. The strand would normally help support the caterpillar's head end while it leaned away from a plant stem, allowing it to stay horizontal to the ground in a twiggish attitude.

Looking like a twig helps the caterpillar evade sight-hunting predators. It will eventually become a small brown bark-camoflaged geometrid moth. I took it off my shirt and put it on the plant below. Looks like a little piece of fallen wood, doesn't it?

Nothing to see here. Fallen twig. Move along. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Walk in the Park

Central Park is full of pleasant spring sights right now. 

American robin, Turdus migratorius. Click on the photos to enlarge.
Raccoon, Procyon lotor
Red-eared slider turtles, Trachemys scripta.
Male wood duck, Aix sponsa
"It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart." Rainier Maria Rilke