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Very Little-Known Lives

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

An eastern gray treefrog, hyla versicolor, sitting on a prairie cup plant, Silphium Perfoliatum, found in the peace garden behind the Mother House. An eastern gray treefrog, hyla versicolor, sitting on a prairie cup plant, Silphium Perfoliatum, found in the peace garden behind the Mother House.

Turtles, Frogs, Caddisflies, Butterfly caterpillars, Snails, Stoneflies, Mussels, Earthworms, Ground Beetles…Dragonflies and Preying Mantises…

What do these apparently insignificant animals do for us?

Plenty!

 

Why should a rare invertebrate be as important as a road project? Perhaps it’s because the species has a history of long relationships with its place, and as a result has set up a network of connections.

Relationships…like the blue butterfly whose caterpillars are milked, like cows, by ants for the sweet, nitrogen-rich honeydew and in turn ward off dangerous parasitic insects that like to lay their eggs on the living caterpillars.

Relationships…like the snail with blind eyestalks, who lives in dry, stony places, like under rock piles, where it seems to rely entirely on touch, taste, and smell to gain information.

Relationships…the flightless Stonefly, the Caddisflies, which are food for fish and indicators of healthy water supply…As development, agriculture, logging and even our human activities roll across the landscape of America, the responsibility to protect species like these—and the habitats in which they live---has never been greater.

With greater storms, longer droughts, warmer winters, the insects are changing. How many Cicadas have you heard? Have you heard the Katydids recently? Crickets? One lonely Gray Tree Frog outside my window after the rain yesterday made me wonder, will he ever find a mate?

If this is the story with the insects, then what about the birds that eat them? What about the frogs? Can you imagine a planet without these creatures.

What about the balance?

We, for our part, can do something about this balance. We can relate to what we see and find. We can recognize that there is a place, an important place for each species. Indeed, ultimately, our lives depend on them.