A journey into the eyes and mind of a naturalist.

Visions of Summer

November in the Upper Midwest is a time of seasonal purgatory, the colors of fall are decomposing on the forest floor, the summer residents are well south of their local summer stomping grounds, the woods seem uncomfortably silent, as if they are still coping with the loss of its seasonal residents.  Minnesota becomes a land of brown and bland.  There is no green of summer or pure white of winter, it is Mother Nature’s way of saying “BLAH”.

Reviewing my photographs from last summer I found a file full of photos that had remained untouched since I took them this summer.  My next several posts will be a reminder of the difference a few months can make here in the great state of Minnesota.

A juvenile grasshopper basks on the petals of a cone flower in the morning light.  Grasshoppers go through a process of incomplete metamorphosis.  This means that, even in their juveniles stages, they look very similar to the adult.  Grasshoppers over winter as eggs laid in late summer.  When they hatch in early spring, miniature grasshoppers emerge and grow throughout summer until they are fully matured adults ready to pass on their genes for the next generation.  Think of this like the opposite of butterflies, flies, bees, and most other insects that go through complete metamorphosis, where the larval and pupal stages look nothing like the adult (think caterpillar and butterfly).

The landscape is brown and bleak now in November, but I cannot help but think of all the hundreds of thousands of eggs of a myriad of insects that lay in wait for next spring.

A small fly takes a break on a leaf.  Note the amazing iridescent color on the thorax.

Bumblebees, unlike the grasshoppers do not overwinter as eggs.  Rather only the queen overwinters.  She was hatched late in summer and traveled out of nest to find a place to overwinter.  Come spring she will be among the first flying insects to fly, often while snow is still on the ground.   Early blooming plants and trees will fuel her establishment of a new colony of up to a hundred or so bees (depending on the species).

Although the colors of fall may seem like all life as disappeared from the land remember all of those forgotten year round residents that are simply waiting for the appropriate conditions to recolonize the land.

Up Next:  Frogs and Flowers

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One response

  1. kathy lane

    Jim,
    Another great blog. I love your stories & photos. You have a special talent for making your stories interesting & meaningful! The photos are always fantastic!
    Mom

    November 16, 2011 at 12:45

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