Signs of Spring
Great Meadow National Wildlife Refuge in Concord is one of my favorite places to walk. It's the only natural area nearby where I can see the sky all around me. Having grown up in Nebraska, I crave open spaces. At Great Meadow, the sky, the marsh, the river, the woods all speak the change of seasons. On one visit a week ago I was listening for Red-wing Blackbirds and looking to see if any insects might be about. I'm new at the insect thing, so I wasn't at all sure what to look for. I photographed a mass of red dots at the base of a Silver Maple tree -- the base soaking in water. I couldn't tell what the red dots were, but thought maybe they were from a plant. So I was pleasantly surprised when I downloaded my pictures to discover the red spots were actually red and black insects.
Two days later I went back with proper footwear, a tripod and a different camera. I took lots of pictures. The insects it turns out are 12-spotted Lady Beetles. Unlike the Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle, these ladies are members of the ladybug family. But their body shape is not the round dome of the classic ladybug (see 1/25/13 post) and their spots aren't quite round either. The 12-spotted lady beetles overwinter under leaf litter in large numbers and emerge in early spring. I'm learning more about this very large family of beetles, the Coccinellidae. (See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coccinellidae) And note: Since lady "bugs" are Beetles (Order: Coleoptera) and are not True Bugs (Order: Hemiptera), some biologists suggest we call them Lady Beetles.
This just illustrates the wonderful, tiny points of interest in the vast world of our natural world. It is quite amazing and endless when you start looking carefully. I love what you are doing; it is refreshing and exciting! HH
Interesting how the red dots that looked like plant matter revealed themselves to you when you observed them on the computer. How many millions (or more) things in nature aren't what they seem! But so many folks aren't curious and don't look anyway....A joy to see your artist's eye merge with that of a naturalist observer! Thanks for once again, taking this viewer along on your journey!
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