Posted by: | September 22, 2010 | Leave a Comment

I like bugs.

Some scientists estimate that there are over 200 million insects for every human on the planet. That’s a lot of bugs. Bugs eat through debris and make it useful again for some other purpose at some other time. They pollinate, aerate and migrate. They jump, spin, fly and weave. The mayfly lives only for a day while a queen termite thrives for up to 50 years. Some people eat bugs while others use them in science, textiles and medicine. I like bugs, so forgiving, so useful, so very, very many of them.

This is a dragonfly that came to the pond this year. Woodhaven has many dragonflies. There are huge ones that congregate up on the dry hillside, much larger than the ones I see near the water. There are fossils of dragonflies that have a twenty four inch wingspan. That’s two feet. That’s a really big bug. Dragonflies are aerial masters. They can reach speeds of 60 miles per hour, can hover, fly backward and sideways all the while generating enough heat to burn fifty times more energy in flight than they do in a resting state. Their eyes have nearly 30,000 facets which make it easy to locate prey.

I love to watch them hover above the water, it causes a ripple that reaches to the far side of the pond and gently dissipates until the next flyover. Iridescent blue tones tucked smooth against the rich chocolate brown-black remind me of nothing else in nature I’ve seen so far with the exception of the odd tropical fish or two.


This one showed up in early August, a friend was visiting and saw it first. Good thing the camera was nearby because it ambled over a dead stump and wandered off into the gully in a matter of seconds. I’ve never seen this bug before. It’s a pine sawyer beetle. It is the largest beetle in North America and can reach two and three quarter inches in length. Their job is to excavate tunnels through the heartwood of dead trees so trees killed by infestation or forest fire will fall more quickly and be available on the ground to create habitat for even more critters. These beetles are found in stumps, snags, downed logs and even in the canopy, wouldn’t want one of them to land on me mind you. These beetles are not a common find in this area so we’re pretty lucky to have them here.

Ah! The june bug. There were so many dead ones up on the dry hillside this summer the ants had a feast. It occurred to me that this was unusual and wondered if a pesticide had been in use close by. Truly, there were dozens belly up on the ground all over the path and on the forest floor. I saved one of the carcasses, cleaned it up and it sits lone on a perfectly circular white stone where I can look at it. I guess it’ll stay there until some critter spies it and makes a meal of it. Ephemeral décor.

Our fall program is coming up October 24, 1:30-4:30. Please join us at Woodhaven for performance, interactive poetry, gifts from the trees, drawings, photography, and sculpture all being watched over by Woodhaven Border Patrol. Did I say Border Patrol?

Woodhaven is at 4711 Raymer Road in the Mission.


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