Monday, July 16, 2012

Where do they go?

Among my favorite pastimes are poking around under small logs, rocks, and pieces of bark in the spring and early summer to see what sorts of critters I'll uncover, and messing around near the edges of  small ponds and puddles that are evaporating to see the gradual concentration of aquatic life.  Then the weather gets dry, and the critters disappear.  Where do they go?  If you know the name of a critter, or at least its broad category, it's easy to look up its natural history and find out how they survive from season to season, but it's a lot more fun to just poke around and speculate, and occasionally discover a critter's secrets on your own.  All the above photographs were taken from April to June of this year, and all the places where I took them are no bone dry and show no signs of life except perhaps a few ants or termites.  Some undoubtedly were eaten by predators, and others might have been victims of dehydration.  But some are either hiding in some damp refuge or laid their eggs in a place where they can survive the remainder of summer and the next winter.  I usually start looking for survivors as soon as the snow starts to melt.  When I get impatient at the 3,500 foot elevation, I head down toward Oroville or Chico where there is no real winter, and find the activity resumes in their spring which begins around November.

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