Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Looking a Little More Closely

I'm making a new flower garden with native, and not, flowering plants.  Getting down to the ground gets you to notice the little things you've been overlooking, and creatures you may not have known existed.  They can be fascinating.

These are a wild growing lily of the valley.  They grow all over and have a pretty perfumy scent that smells almost sickeningly sweet up close.

A close up of the flower.

Star moss blooming.  These flowers at the top of the moss contain the male gametes for reproducing.

When digging I found this Red Velvet Mite.  They live in the soil.  This one is about as big as my pinky fingernail.    

A spider whose web was between two flowers. 

A close up of a bluet. 

That mystery tulip 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

What, Pray Tell, Makes Cocoons Out of Mouse Hair?

So, I was out walking around with my camera, looking at what's been springing up and planning to photograph a bird's nest that incorporated and icee wrapper.  I pulled up a board that's been lying there in the yard for ever.  Underneath was an old mouse nest with chewed out hickory nuts.  Looking more closely, I saw a couple of weird egg shaped objects.  They were cocoons covered in what looked like hair.  Short brown mouse hair.

I thought the cocoon was empty but when I held it up to the light, I saw some body inside.  I could tell it wasn't alive. It was light as a feather and the body was translucent, just a shell.  I wondered, do mice make little cocoons to keep their newborns warm?  I think I would have come across such a thing by now, whether from Beatrix Potter, or time spent at my grandfather's cabin in Vermont, or from my husband who has been driven to near insanity with the mice in our attic and walls.

It turned out to be the shell of an insect inside this cocoon.  I'm guessing the larva of some kind of wasp?  Resourceful of them, covering their cocoons in mouse fur to keep warm while they pupate.  Cozy.