Posts Tagged ‘catalpa’

Busy Picture

A picture from below the leaves of our catalpa tree.

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There are sunlit shapes and shaded ones in this complicated composition. There’s the linear lines from the tree’s branches. There are leaves in their natural state and others that have been skeletonized by the catalpa hornworm caterpillars.

The short dark lines on the leaf in the middle of the picture are young caterpillars

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They stay on the underside of the leaves where predators less likely to find them.

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This caterpillar was higher in the tree. I thought it was sick or dead when I took the picture. It turned out that the caterpillar was molting — shedding its skin.

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There’s also variety in their coloring.

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 Cocoons of a parasitic wasps cover most of the back of this caterpillar.

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They do have variation in the color of their patterns.

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The full-grown caterpillar burrows into the ground, forms its pupa and the moth emerges in late spring.

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Our catalpa tree stands about 50 feet tall.

Catalpa Mystery

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The seedpods on the catalpa tree can grow to up to 20 inches long, and in every which way but straight.

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I’ve racked my brain trying to come up with an explanation for this coiled seedpod.

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What were its growing conditions? If it grew around something, why isn’t it still around it?

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Maybe it’s the Jonathon Livingston Seagull of the catalpa pods.

Interesting Ants

I’ve been redesigning my reflexology stone path recently, and have spent a lot of time sitting near the catalpa tree in my special place.

During all this, I noticed ants on two exposed roots, and going up and down the tree.

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Why? What’s up there for the ants?

I started to remove the seeds from a pod so I could remove the papery covering down to the actual seed. A silky web covered what I thought at first was an egg mass.

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Cropping showed they were larval cocoons. They’re like eggs only much larger.

I have a new book: Tracks & Sign of Insects and Other Invertebrates by Charley Eiseman and Noah Charney.

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The larval cocoons were gone the next morning. I wasn’t sure, but it looked like a predator found them.

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The small form on the left looked like a larva.

At least I solved the mystery of why the ants hurried up and down the catalpa tree.

Catalpa

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Evening light through catalpa tree

Catalpa Seeds

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The clusters of 16-18 inch long seedpods

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  are quite noticeable on the catalpa tree.

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Wind disperses the thin, flat seeds. The lower seed flapped in the wind as I took pictures.

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The seeds stayed together in pods slow to open.

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Reluctant to turn loose and fly?

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I went out in the evening to take orb pictures, like I do a few times a week.

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The moon was three days from full and “hung” above the catalpa.