Journal for July 27, 2005

This was the week of the party, so most of our projects were party related. It has been so hot that we couldn’t do much outside. But on the day of the party it rained in the morning, and then never warmed up again – it stayed cloudy and relatively cool – perfect weather for an outside party.

The party was great – everyone seemed to have a good time, and there was lots of food and music. Here are some of the musicians getting set up.

Later Dan and Phil joined them, and they played and sang until it started getting dark.

Hugh and Fariba and Daria, and Phil and Virginia and Owen stayed overnight, so there was more music on the porch until after midnight.

During the party Martha and Patty were taking a walk when a huge caterpillar fell on Martha’s head. They decided it could only have come from an oak tree, so they brought it back to me with some oak leaves.

It’s a Polyphemus Moth caterpillar – and it was happy to walk around on people’s hands and be admired.

Eventually I put it in a jar and it disappeared under its oak leaves – hopefully to make a pupa. It’s closely related to Cecropia moths, so I’ll try treating it the same way, and maybe it will overwinter and hatch out next spring. My only concern is that it has a black spot on it’s skin, and I’m afraid that may mean that it’s been parasitized by a wasp – but I’ll have to wait and see.

While I was pulling some sweet clover in the wetland I came across a bird’s nest – I think of a Common Yellowthroat. The nest was at the base of a clump of sweet clover, so I didn’t cut that clump.

I finally got a good photo of a Summer Azure – it’s difficult to get close to them.

I also saw an interesting group of caterpillars on some Oxeye leaves. They were underneath the leaves, and they had eaten through so the leaves were nearly transparent.

Here’s a closeup.

To move to a new leaf, they let out a strand of silk and dropped, very quickly, to the leaf below. The eaten leaves then shriveled and turned brown – easy to notice from a distance – that’s how we discovered the caterpillars. I collected a few caterpillars and put them in a jar to observe – I’d like to find out what kind they are. When they’re startled – like when I walk too close to the jar – they all jerk their heads up at once.

We had a little rain since we made the pond, so there’s a puddle in the middle of the plastic. Mike used the powertrac to smooth the edges a little so it will be easier for the water to flow in.