Monday, September 16, 2013

Cicadas and cicada killer wasps signal summer's end.

(An amazingly risky place for emergence from the exoskeleton)

With frost on the horizon and the harvest moon looming it's time for a final salute of  goodbye
 to our cicadas, the most amazing and without doubt loudest insects of a summer waning. 
 Love them or hate them their impending silence signals a seasonal transition.

A giant exoskeleton is an exciting trophy for a young child!

Happy cicada exoskeleton hunters!

Many newly emerged cicadas live for just moments.  Some are consumed by squirrels attracted by their chain saw like buzzing while others fall prey to another insect, the predatory eastern cicada killer wasp, a creature of nightmares if cicadas dream.  This two inch long wasp paralyzes a cicada with a single sting but the worst is yet to come.  The wasp half drags and half flies homes clutching its prey, a creature often heavier than than itself by dragging it up trees and then flying from the tree towards the burrow with the prey.  Back at the burrow the paralyzed cicada is buried  in an underground chamber and the cicada killer punctures the body and lays her eggs. A few days  later the wasp grubs emerge and proceed to eat their dinner alive. 

So is the end of some cicadas in the final days of summer.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Season of the Massasauga Rattler!

Photo of an eastern massasauga rattlesnake by Jonathan Schechter

 Autumn is just around the corner and it's a perfect time to hike a trail.
Michigan's only venomous reptile, the massasauga rattlesnake also likes our sun-soaked
 trails in the  waning days of summer and early autumn.  
What better place to soak up late day heat before slithering about on their ways!
  And if you leave the rattlers alone they will grant you
 the same safe passage. NOTE:  They are a protected species.
A herpetologist and most naturalists and some cases  wilderness medicine trained
 physician came make a positive ID of  a rattler by subtle physical characteristics.
 If you can not identify  "keeled mid-dorsal scales" and "undivided subcaudal  
scales" and do not know the significance of the 'pit' of the rattler, just leave the snake along.    

  • I took the photo above two years ago on a popular Oakland County hike-bike trail.
  • Almost all rattler bites are on the dominant hand of the offending human!  
  • Much of Oakland County is ratter habitat.