Saturday, November 26, 2016

Tenacity of Life

 The deciduous leaves had mostly fallen, the air was cold, and I had started stacking my firewood when I uncovered a Camel Cricket.  There must have been some heat generated by decomposing leaves because this cricket was very alert and jumped over three feet.  However, like certain cats and snakes, once caught and held it calms down and seems to trust its captor.
 My son and I played with this one a little before returning it to the wood pile.  My mind wandered to all the critters hibernating, or just remaining dormant inside crevices, beneath the surface leaves, or even inches to feet below the surface.  I thought of the Oak Treehoppers that were clinging to branches only a few days earlier, but whose eggs and larvae will spend the winter inside the root systems of the oaks, only to emerge again toward the end of next summer.  I took these photos a month ago, but I was reminded of them - as they lay dormant in m computer - when I photographed various fungi and lichens this past Thursday.  Most of the fungi take advantage of other species' death by springing to life and helping with decomposition.  The lichens, living mostly off air and water, live on lifeless substrates like rocks and on tree bark among other places.  The ones that live on relatively permanent substrates, like granite, or the bark of oaks, may live for centuries.  The ones that live on softer bark, like that of pines and firs, and on softer rocks, might live only a year or two or a few decades.  They tolerate extreme cold and live through winters buried under snow and ice.
 I hope this camel cricket has the tenacity to live through the winter in my wood pile.  I'd like to see it again next spring.

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