There is a world of creatures flying through the air. If you simply look. The flowers, bushes, lawn and trees are full of things with wings.
On a spring morning the light from the sun illuminates the mist of buzzing bodies flying around the plant life. Park yourself and quietly watch the dance. Not exactly Fred Astaire or John Travolta, but these winged dancers move to their own music, a high pitched whine of delicate flapping at warp speed. The precision and targeting ability makes these flyers aces in their own air forces.
In case you missed it, May 20 was World Bee Day. Those who care probably celebrated with their honey.
Butterflies start out as frogs before turning into princes. From a crawler to a flutterer, with four wings no less. To drink that sweet nectar, a straw-like form unrolls from the chin, it’s a liquid dinner, all sucked from the flower.
Butterflies have taste receptors in their feet, which they use for stepping on their food to release the plant’s chemical, to help find just the right food. Picky eaters. These receptors also aid the females in finding a suitable plant to lay eggs. Not any old plant will do.
Believe it or not, there is a reason butterflies drink from mud puddles. This puddling allows them nutrients needed for life, and helps males prepare for mating. Yes, seriously. The nutrients are passed along to the females, who apparently do not care what their mates have been drinking. There’s no accounting for taste.
The wings of butterflies are actually so thin, you can see right through them. It is the scales on the wings that reflect certain colors and form patterns.
The life of a butterfly can last as short as a few days or up to a year. During that time, butterflies are focused on eating and mating, though not necessarily in that order. The species must survive. Only a couple of eggs out of 100 will eventually produce a butterfly.
Habitat is the place in nature that nurtures life. Agriculture, clearing of land for development and chemicals result in the loss of food and host plants for butterflies.
Insects may disappear entirely in a hundred years. Forty percent of insect species have declined in the past ten years. The number of honey bee colonies have declined by half in the past 70 years.
Bees carry pollen on their hind legs; they have six legs. They have two pairs of wings, beating 200 times per second and can fly 20 mph. The female, the worker bee, lives only a few week and will make about 1/12 teaspoon of honey. It is the female bees that forage for food, make the honey and take care of the hive. Bees will travel great distances seeking the right plants and pollen. The drones are just around for mating, and then are kicked out of the hive. Probably in part for not having a job, drinking too much and never cleaning their wings. Bees have five eyes and use ultraviolet light, which humans cannot and they can see movement six times faster than humans. Bees can age backward which changes the molecular structure and proteins in their brains. So, when the male is acting like an adolescent, there is a very good reason.
Male bees cannot sting, it is only the female. Wasps are distant cousins, but are not bees. Wasps are carnivores and bees are vegetarians. Most bees do not produce honey. Only social bees live in hives, most are not social bees. These must be the introvert bees.
The world outside our windows is vast, hundreds of species of insects may populate the grass, shrubs, trees, flowers and other vegetation. The birds sing in the trees and partake of food from the planters, the squirrels hop along the yard or sit on the fence, butterflies dance across the flowers and small winged things flitter in the garden.
The neighbor has the lawn service come by with a tanker truck with a long hose that works across the yard spraying it down. Their lawn is lush and green, perfect, uniform like a fresh haircut. Not a hair out of place, or a blade of grass. Those nasty dandelions, crabgrass and clover – will not exist. Better living through chemistry. These folks are also oblivious to the spray of chemicals washes into the storm sewer or drains across other plant life.
In my neck of the world, dandelions are weeds, and clover is to be eradicated. Both are good plants for bees, but each lawn must look as perfect as the next. Your dandelions will spread to my yard, so get busy killing them! And stay off my lawn.