Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Catch of the Day

 I took some camp counselors on a nature walk this morning to familiarize them with the available trails around Oakland Camp and to introduce some of our most interesting local species of plants, animals, fungi, and a little forest fire and railroad history.  Our first stop was by the pine and fir rounds around the campfire circle that we use as seats.  I thought maybe we'd see a Jerusalem Cricket.  Sure enough, the fellow in the above photo was under the first one we turned over.  Somewhat startled to have its roof lifted, the bug just stood still while some onlookers said "Oh, cool," while others stepped backwards and said "Yuck."  To show how harmless - even friendly - this bug is, I asked permission to put it in someone's hand.
 It decided to "play 'possum," and pulled in all its legs and antennae are stayed perfectly still for quite a while.  Then I put it in other person's hand (below) and it immediately sprung to life.  We put it back under its stump so it wouldn't die of dehydration, and continued our discussion about what bugs pose a threat (very few) and which are harmless to humans and crops and are in fact important elements in the web of life (all of them).  We discussed the many names given to this creature in different parts of the state - local favorite is probably Potato bug - and the fact the most field guides call it Jerusalem Cricket.  In Southern California and Mexico it is often known as la nina de la terra (child of the Earth).  Sorry, speakers of Spanish, I don't know how to put an accent mark over that second 'n' which isn't an "n" at all but an "en'-yay." 
Later on our walk we discussed the many other plants and animals that are known by various positive and negative names, depending on the circumstances under which they were named and the biases the "namers" brought to the situation.  A very hot, dry day, and I'm sure some of the group had trouble tolerating the weather, but hopefully they found our local ecology fascinating.  More photos from my morning will be posted soon.  Click on any of the above photos for closer views.

No comments:

Post a Comment