There was a time when I’d either shout for my parents to kill a tiny spider in my bedroom or walk around the numerous apartments I lived in with my hands clenched, pacing until I built up enough nerve to do the critters in.
And today . . .
I stopped to watch carpenter ants dance with each other and was amazed by their mandibles, very large mandibles–the better to chew wood and create connecting tunnels in their nests.
I admired convergent lady beetles feeding on pollen and nectar in the absence of prey.
And celebrated the first dragonflies of the season.
In hopes of seeing others, I got my boots wet.
Thankfully, it was well worth it and I wasn’t disappointed as I had the opportunity to watch one dry its wings out before taking flight.
Because I was beside water, I knew to look for exoskeletons,
and wonder about the transformation that took place.
But, it’s not just insects that were worth a wow moment. Bog rosemary bloomed.
I spied my first blue flag iris of the season.
And awaited the blooms of pitcher plants.
The cinnamon fern’s fertile fronds also begged to be noticed.
The same was true for the royal fern,
and interrupted–all three members of the Osmundaceae family who, like me, don’t mind wet feet.
As I moved through this wetland, I welcomed occasional glimpses of sun and warmer temps. But thanks to the coolness and breeze, the mosquitoes didn’t bother me–that and the fact that I finally started using Skeeter skidaddler, an all natural bug repellant made in Windham, Maine. (I bought it at my guy’s store a few years ago and have encouraged him to purchase more.)
Eventually, I left the trail and followed Grist Mill Road for a while, when what to my wondering eyes should appear in the newly created trenches–tadpoles galore.
And aquatic insects climbing a rock as they prepared for their own metamorphosis.
My intention was to follow the road all the way back to my truck, but at a side trail (the tire highway for those of you who know), I decided to retrace some of my steps and check on the dragonfly at the quaking bog. As I walked, I heard a spiraling song in the distance and then when I approached the bog boardwalk the veery showed its face–a sweet moment indeed.
The red-winged blackbirds also sang, and my heart sank when I spied one near the dragonfly.
But all was well and still he clung–in limbo. My hope is that his wings finally dried and predator he became, but I’ll never know for finally I had to leave and let nature take its course.
During my second visit, however, I had a chance to spy another who isn’t an insect, but is still worth a wonder–a water spider. I found it curious that there were dragonfly wings in the water. Oh my. Related to the spider’s presence? I don’t know.
And then I reminded myself that spiders aren’t insects, but both are invertebrates.
If you look back at the carpenter ants, you’ll see that they have a head, thorax and abdomen. And the thorax is where the three pairs of legs are attached. You can see it on the dragonfly as well. Insects also have eyes, antennae and mouthparts–like the ants’ mandibles. Most insects also have wings.
Spiders, however, have two main body parts–a combined head and thorax (or cephalothorax), and an abdomen. Their eyes, mouthparts and four pairs of legs are all part of the cephalothorax. Unlike insects, they can’t chew and they don’t have wings.
Insects belong to Insecta and spiders to Arachnida.
But in my book both are worth a wonder and so today I’m glad I had a chance to revere them.