Monday, May 16, 2016

rosy maple

To be a naturalist is to be curious about all things outdoors, and, if so, you are never bored, a 10-year-old at heart. After all, there is an estimated 8.7 million species on the planet and Homo sapiens is only one of these. The real world is so much more interesting than the virtual world. Television simply cannot compare, just people talking about or to other people, unless it's Nature on PBS.

This is the fourth year of the TN Naturalist @ Ijams classes, part of a state wide program. Jennifer, Peg, Dr. Louise and I teach the series of 40 hours of classes. And this year we have one student who drives all the way from north Georgia, so the word is getting out. Last Saturday, I taught the first birding class. It began at 9 a.m. and our Georgia student left home at 4:30 in the morning to get there. That is dedication!

Another memorable moment from that gathering was when Nick Stahlman, a student in the class, showed me the above photos he had taken in the Smokies on May 8 at 10:22 a.m. on the Grotto Falls portion of the Trillium Gap Trail. I'm from the Smokies, I thought I knew the basic flora and fauna of the mountains, but I had never seen this flower before.

But guess what, it's not a flower! 

Nick figured it out. It's a rosy maple moth, (Dryocampa rubicunda). Pink and yellow, this psychedelic—so does anybody remember the Strawberry Alarm Clock?—colored moth's caterpillars feed on sugar, red and silver maples. The adults do not eat, they reproduce. Oh, so sixties.

Nick writes, "The Wikipedia article is the only thing I could find that might explain the curved shape of the wings. It mentions that when the adult first emerges it has to pump it's wings full of fluid."

For the rest of the wiki article go to: rosy maple.

"I'm never at a loss for things to study or topics to write about: everything in the natural world is fair game. If I'm not intrigued and excited every time I step outside, it just means I'm not paying attention." - from Feathers by Thor Hanson

 Thanks, Nick!


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