Thursday, September 20, 2007

Bug Nests in Our Trees

I think that the spider web looking things in our trees are the nests of a type of moth. The contractor working on our house, Matt Despres (, told me that those were gypsy moths. I still don’t know much about them, but it is comforting to know that there isn’t a bug big enough to wrap a raccoon or squirrel up in a web in a tree. J (I knew that.) We have had moths flock to our windows and screen doors all summer. Some of them are quite large, and pretty. Most of them are dull. They make a great plaything for our cat when they get in the house. Other than that, I know nothing about them. And, unlike dragonflies, they don’t really interest me much. However, if you want to know more about gypsy moths, they actually have their own website:

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I was bringing something out to the car yesterday and I noticed an enormous insect just banging repeatedly into the siding of the house. I noticed it because it made a substantial noise when it hit due to its size. It was a dragonfly. I have noticed we have an enormous number of dragonflies here in New Hampshire, many more than I ever saw in Illinois. I realized I knew nothing about them. What do they eat? What is their life cycle – do they start as larvae, and then become caterpillars, then dragonflies? I had no idea. How did I live 50 years and remain so ignorant of the world around me?

Thank goodness for libraries and the internet. I now know that dragonfly eggs are deposited in water, or sometimes in the stems of underwater plants. After hatching, they live as naiads in the water eating other bugs, sometimes even small fish. They capture their waterborne prey via a large lower lip. Some species live in this mode for a few years. They shed their naiad skin and become dragonflies at some point – I don’t claim to understand the whole cycle yet.

They look beautiful and creepy all at the same time. They are not harmful to people, in fact they are voracious eaters of insects that I don’t enjoy: mainly mosquitoes. So, dragonflies rock!

One of the fascinating things about dragonflies is their flight capabilities. You can see them stop abruptly, fly backwards, hover and fly sideways. In fact, they have 4 wings, each of which can operate independently to give them these amazing flight characteristics. See for more information on their flying capabilities.

Now I feel a little better. Maybe next I’ll figure out what those spider web looking things are in the trees. It looks like a cocoon with a squirrel or raccoon inside it, but surely that can’t be what it really is. Right?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

End of Summer

Late August and September make me think about time. Other events, like my birthday, also make me think about time. But birthday thoughts, for me, are usually constructive. Birthdays don’t usually depress me like they do others.

In late August and September it seems it’s all about loss. It’s the “end of summer”. I hear this in the news media, in endless advertisements and from other people. It’s not really the end of the nice weather though. September and early October still have some beautiful days for outdoor activities. I think the whole “end of summer” talk is very child-oriented. It is the end of summer for them. They go back to school. But, do all of us have to suffer this negative vibe just because the kids have to go back to school? Can’t we celebrate the fact that now the resorts, parks and beaches will be free of screaming kids and long lines? It’s not that I don’t like kids, but don’t make adults feel lousy just because they have to go back to school. It’s not like adult workers had the whole summer off! There is plenty of nice weather left to do things outside. Don’t get us all depressed months before the dark and cold of winter really sets in. Let us enjoy the true end of summer – summer does officially end September 21st after all.

Beautiful Fall Day

It's a beautiful fall day here in Illinois. Seen on the Fox River Trail