Is it spring yet?

It was over 60 degrees (F) today. With such a mild winter and only a dusting of snow, can we say it is spring yet? It certainly feels like it with the sunshine and birds chirping.

I woke up with a fever this morning, so I stayed home from school. I hate doing that, I missed my SEM session, but I was a total wreck until the afternoon. Finally able to stand up without feeling dizzy, I went for a walk in the park to get some fresh air into my lungs (in between hacking up phlegm and blowing my nose). At the park there are some little ephemeral ponds, which of course I investigated for insect life.

They were teeming with caddisfly larvae, all with really neat twig houses. I’m not sure what this one was doing at the surface, it looked like a strange yoga routine.

Here is a handful, hidden away in their houses.

Caddisflies are holometabolous insects in the order Trichoptera, most closely related to Lepidoptera. The adults have scaly wings and resemble moths while at rest. The larvae are aquatic and fall into three groups: free living, net-makers, and case-makers. They all use silk to some degree. The case-makers have a variety of species-specific techniques such as using twigs, pebbles, or even arranging pebbles into a snail shell shape. You can imagine that carrying around a house that serves as protection and camouflage is a pretty good strategy, though I’ve noticed it makes them rather clumsy. It was fun watching these insects crawling along the leafy bottom of the pond.

While at the park I also noticed how much trash was strewn about the otherwise beautiful forest edge. I walked home, grabbed a garbage bag, walked back, and picked up all the trash I could find. It didn’t take very long to fill the bag til it was bursting. The most common items were beer cans and slim jim wrappers… the worst thing was a dirty diaper stuffed into a soda cup. Gross!!! I hate people who litter. Unless your life is being threatened, causing you to drop your cigarette or beer can in a fight-or-flight response, there is NO EXCUSE for littering. Ever. The next time I pick up a used diaper or a beer can full of cigarette butts in the park I’m not sure where I will direct my rage, but it will have to go somewhere, and it won’t be pretty.

Posted on March 8, 2012, in Invertebrates, Trichoptera. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I worked at a freshwater environmental education centre a while ago and one of the educators had captured caddisfly larvae to show school children. They tried an experiment where they had a “naked” caddisfly larvae in a petridish with tiny threads of yarn. The caddisfly ended up making its own “sweater”. It was really interesting.

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  3. Yes It is horrible to see so much litter. But I did like your post about the caddisfly larvae.

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Ryerson Lab

Functional Morphology, Sensory Biology, Behavior, Biomechanics

I spell it nature

Trying to make sense of the world through science and language.

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