More Insect Haikus (Friday 5)

The insect activity was a bit sparse this week, in spite of some lovely warm days and some exciting things that happened.  Because there are so few insects to report, I’m going to share some haikus of recent insect and insect-related observations I’ve made over the past few weeks.  Hope you enjoy them!

Ode to the Fall Cankerworm

Female cankerworm

Wingless cankerworm
crawling up a maple tree,
lays her eggs while cold.

If you’ve followed my blog recently, you’ve already read about the fall cankerworms I’ve watched recently.  They disappeared from their usual spot for a couple of weeks during some very cold weather and an ice storm, but they’ve come back!  I was more excited about that than I probably should have been…

Burning the Prairie

Prairie burn

Snap crackle and pop,
winter prairie fire burns, 
insects flee the flames.

The natural resources guy at the field station leads a controlled burn of a third of the prairie every winter as part of the prairie maintenance, and it took place yesterday.  It’s always exciting to watch, but for the first time I noticed a lot of insects out and about near the burn area, some of which had clearly been roaming around in the ashes.  Made me think that the rabbits, cotton rats, and mice aren’t the only things that flee as the fire advances!  Interesting to see so many insects roaming around after the burn.

Stuff of Insect Nightmares

Brown headed nuthatch

Tap tap tap it goes,
the nuthatch looks for a treat,
insect under bark.

I’ve fallen in love with brown-headed nuthatches recently!  They’re adorable and it’s fun to watch them breaking off pieces of bark to get to the tasty insects hidden underneath.  They’re rather resourceful little birds!

Wasps in Winter

Wasp nest

Huge paper wasp nest,
high up in a winter tree.
Glad it’s cold today!

I got to go on a fantastically fun trip with a bunch of other environmental educators to the Pungo Unit of Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge last weekend.  It’s an overwintering site for tens of thousands of tundra swans, snow geese, and red-winged blackbirds, and you can see flocks of 30,000-40,000 birds.  It’s absolutely and indescribably amazing!  But, I got excited about a few insect sightings as well.  I’m going to write about one of them in a longer blog post sometime soon, but one of the other women on the trip noticed the awesome wasp in the photo high in a tree.  It was truly massive, so I think both of us were actually just fine with being cold at that moment as it meant we weren’t going to be inundated by angry wasps while we milled around under their beautiful nest.

The Birds

Red winged blackbirds

The red-winged blackbirds
flying over winter fields
look like clouds of gnats.

I couldn’t resist throwing in this haiku about the red-winged blackbirds, even though it just alludes to insects.  There were just SO many of them at Pungo!  If any of you ever make it out to eastern North Carolina in the winter, it’s well worth a visit to Pungo or nearby Lake Mattamuskeet to see the birds.  The photo doesn’t give you a good sense of what it feels like to have several thousand birds swirling around in a huge mass in front of you only to have the entire flock fly right over your head only 10 feet above you.  It was like a black wall that was about to engulf you, but it swerved upward at the last moment and disappeared over the trees.  It was magical!

It’s winter, but there’s always great stuff to see outside and I’ve really been enjoying exploring recently.  Anyone want to take a stab at a winter themed haiku?  Pick any topic of your choice, so long as it focuses on winter.  Would love to read anything you come up with, so leave poems in the comments!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth
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8 thoughts on “More Insect Haikus (Friday 5)

  1. I’ll bet the bird fly-over was awesome—I’ve only seen a few around here—The Nuthatch Haiku is my favorite—Hard to believe the Cankerworm Ladies came back—Wow—She sure looks grumpy, though.

    An attempt—Not sure I have the right idea…
    ~ Haiku in Ojibwe ~
    Gisinaa Beboong
    Ondaas, Boochikwanishi
    Heh, Ningashkendam

    (Kind of a translation
    Winter is (so) cold.
    Come (on back) here, Dragonfly.
    Yes, I am (so) sad.

    Later—John

  2. All excellent, but the blackbird one especially so! The shift in scale and perspective at the end is really clever.
    Regarding the burn, I looked into papers on animals and fires for my post http://toughlittlebirds.com/2013/08/30/what-happens-to-the-animals-when-there-is-a-fire/ and found some intriguing descriptions. Vogl (1973) describes, after a fire, “The following morning thousands of wolf spiders (Lycosidae) were crawling over the remaining grass stubble…” I’ve wondered whether this is a common thing, spiders after a fire.

    • Wouldn’t surprise me if the spider thing happened often after fires! We certainly see a big upswing in the number of raptors over burned fields, we see a lot more black rat snakes out in the winter after the burns, and when we burn little patches in the summer I will usually see dragonfly swarms over the burn area as well. Predators seem to like the all you can eat buffet that occurs after a fire evicts all the prey they like from their homes in the fields.

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