Friday, June 20, 2014

Photo Essay: After a Rain

A tiny native solitary bee is dwarfed by unopened milkweed flowers buds.
This week's severe storms luckily swung south of us, but still brought some big winds and a period of intense downpours. This is just the kind of rainy, lightning-filled weather our state insect, the firefly, loves at peak breeding season! But, I wondered, how do other insects in the garden deal with brief but heavy storms? The morning following a big blow, I went out to find how they fared.

It's amazing to see how delicate leaves are shaped to deal with running water. Terminal leaf points and dipper-like terminal stem buds help to slow and direct water so that fragile leaves and young stems are not damaged in heavy downpours.

Forest fly dries off after the rain.

My first walk through the garden after the rain revealed few insects, but the closer I looked the more I saw that plants offered plenty of sheltering places. Under heavy, broad rhododendron leaves flies and ants were resting. Inside rolled leaves were caterpillars and spiders. Beneath heavy flower petals were bees and others waiting for the sun to emerge. And when it did - they waited a little more until leaves were drip-dry.

I find jumping spiders so curious and friendly. They love having their pictures taken.

Moth emerges from under a flake of cherry tree bark.

Jumping spider in her storm shelter below a flower bud.

As the sun shone a little brighter, insects began to fly and buzz and crawl everywhere. For a small garden spider in my woods garden, the business of repair a torn web was first priority. Smaller than a dime, this little weaver worked carefully to mend a hole caused by a fallen stick. It helped to have so many legs and claws to do this complex work so beautifully.

Tiny garden spider repairs her storm-damaged web.

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