A Caterpillar and the Centipede’s Dilemma

Saltmarsh caterpillar (Estigmene acrea)

After stopping for a closer look at the lemon beebalm (Monarda citriodora) overflowing a roadside ditch, I discovered a dozen or more saltmarsh caterpillars roaming among the flowers. Most were munching on leaves or moving along stems with what passes for caterpillar haste, but one had curled itself around a grass stem and seemed to be holding on for dear life.

For the ten minutes I was in its neighborhood, it never moved. It might have been resting, or pondering a drop down into the leaf litter to begin pupating, but it reminded me of this verse from childhood:

A centipede was happy – quite!
Until a toad in fun
Said, “Pray, which leg comes after which?”
It threw her mind in such a pitch
She laid bewildered in the ditch,
Considering how to run.

Even though the caterpillar lacks the numerous legs of a centipede, and despite the fact that its movement depends on muscle contraction rather than the legs it does have, it still amused me to imagine my little friend pondering the verse attributed to Katherine Craster in her 1871 volume called Pinafore Poems. Whenever I grew indecisive as a child, one parent or the other would recite the lines: a bit of cautionary advice to prevent dithering.

I assume the curled up caterpillar ceased any dithering and moved on eventually, but it pleased me that others of its kind were available for photos.

Salt marsh larvae are highly variable in color, ranging from yellow to brown or black, but whatever the color of their bodies or hairs, I find their little faces charming.

 

Comments always are welcome.

The Yard Bird

White ibis (Eudocimus albus)

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, white ibises tend to feed in large groups, seeking out shallow wetlands or flooded fields in which to forage. Given the right water depth, or soil that’s sufficiently wet, they’re perfectly content to dine even at urban parks or on lawns, probing the ground for the  grubs, grasshoppers, and crawfish that make up a large part of their diet.

Still, I hardly expected to find one in my parking lot. When I rounded a corner and discovered this fine fellow enjoying an afternoon snack, I happened to have my camera in the car with me, so I stopped, backed up, rolled down the window, and casually took a few photos.

Only later did I discover that the background, a combination of black metal fencing and green grass, made my visitor look like a prisoner. He wasn’t guilty of a crime, and as far as I know never was apprehended or charged, but he still ended up looking like a yardbird.

 

Comments always are welcome.

 

And Now, A Word from Michigan

I love Leonard Cohen. I delight in parodies, and I can’t help smiling when someone manages to bring humor, affection, and talent to bear on a bad situation.

If you watch tv or keep an eye on social media, you may already have seen this, but I couldn’t keep from posting the video for those who might otherwise miss it. Thanks to Jean at The Misadventures of Widowhood for including it in her blog today.

 

 

Comments always are welcome.