Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I think the universe is on the side of positive reinforcement; Amanda, Neal, and I were repaid for our prodigous labors (it's Tuesday and we, as promised, continued our cleanup of peripheral areas) today by the appearance of Walking Sticks. Amanda found two in about a five minute period. And agreeably held them for photographs. It's usually easy to get some tentative identification of unusual insects by combining field guides and internet research. I know this is a walking stick and it has 6 legs. The other one had 4 legs though whether this was genetic or environmental I don't know. They are most likely Northern Walking Sticks, but I say that with absolutely no confidence. It doesn't really matter; they are very cool.

Isn't it odd how some insects are distinctly creepy and untouchable while others, for most of us this includes mantids and walking sticks, seem okay to handle. Cricket populations have exploded over the summer; we begin to hear the odd individuals that have found their way into buildings. I know most of the world considers crickets good luck; some cultures keep them temporarily as pets. To me they are creepy and I am not happy that this time of year, any rearrangement of foliage touching the ground is likely to reveal some number of crickets. Oddly, superficial research did reveal that walking sticks have become trendy pets? I don't get it, though one of my most vivid memories of the Invertebrate House at the National Zoo is that of a floor to ceiling cage with hundreds of large (>5") walking sticks aimlessly? rambling over leafy branches.

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