Thursday, May 17, 2012

BEAUTIFUL BUG


A few mornings ago I stepped outside and ambled around to the narrow streamside deck which runs parallel to the river, across what we consider the front of the cottage. The view overlooks the pool below the big riffle. From this vantage point above water's surface, I can often spot a smallmouth bass—or more likely, one of the several resident carp—feeding in the shallows along the rocky edge

However, it wasn't a fish in the water below that caught my eye, but a bunch of insects clinging to the limestone blocks of the cottage's exterior wall. Mayflies, large ones, at least a hundred or more. A sight which immediately warmed this old trout bum's soon-to-be-accelerated heart—since we incorrigible fly fishermen, who delight in angling for trout, hold the mayfly second in importance and veneration only to the fish themselves.

Mayflies often emerge from the pool, generally hatching at twilight or well into the night. They're favorite treats of swallows and bats and cedar waxwings—but also scarfed up by bass and minnows, catfish, frogs, queen snakes, crayfish, and everything else which creeps, hops, flutters, slithers, swims, or wings near, in, or above the river.

In spite of their looks—which I deem beautiful, though you, lacking my bias, might call something else—winged mayflies neither feed nor bite, can't, in fact, and are perfectly harmless. While my mayfly identification skills are a bit rusty, considering the slow current, warm water, and partially mucky-bottom makeup of the pool, and the insect's almost two inch length—not counting the trio of extending tails, or cerci—I suspect it's a species of Hexagenia

Incidentally, I made the mayfly's portrait on my birthday, the day before having pacemaker surgery. As a fellow who pays attention to such natural signs, and because the mayfly just might be my favorite insect, I took their mass appearance on my cottage wall (and the nearby grapevine where I found my photo's subject) as a favorable portent. 

Hey, I'm charmed by mayflies. And at that point I figured a bit of bolstering-up from a bunch of pretty bugs couldn't hurt. Moreover, they've proven to be wonderfully right.
——————— 

12 comments:

Arija said...

Many Happy Returns of the day. Glad you have got the pace maker, it makes life so much easier and more secure. Just don't overdo it with your rock walls and heavy wheelbarrow pushing uphill.

Scott said...

A beautiful image, Grizz, and nice commentary to boot. I was trained as an aquatic entomologist, and I am partial to trout's other favorite food--stoneflies--but mayflies are a close second in my book. Besides, mayfly adults are infinitely more aesthetically appealing and photogenic than stonefly adults. However, I think that stonefly nymphs of the family Perlidae have the mayflies beat; they look like six-legged tigers.

I'm glad that your pacemaker installation went smoothly, and that your surgery didn't make you an "eintagfleigen," the German common name for mayflies.

Teri and the cats of Curlz and Swirlz said...

I look often, have time to comment rarely...but wanted to send good vibes your way (like the whirring of May Fly wings...)

Grizz………… said...

Arija…

Thank you…glad to hear from you. And don't worry, I'm not planning on more wall-building anytime soon.

Grizz………… said...

Scott…

To be honest, in my trout fishing experience, stoneflies take a far backseat to mayflies and caddis—though when they're out and about, fluttering like spavined helicopters, they can induce some of the boggest old cannibal trout in the stream to come slashing like fingerlings. But they're far more of a big deal, fishing-wise, in the West.

However, a stonefly nymph can probably challenge and eat any mayfly on the planet. Though if I were going to go into aquatic bug-fighting, I'd maybe raise and train hellgrammites. Now there's one mean larva!

Don't believe in reincarnation, but if I did, I'd rather come back as a Canada goose rather than an eintagfleigen; lasting is better than ephemeral.

Grizz………… said...

Teri and the cats of Curlz and Swirlz…

Thank you…and no need to feel any obligation re. commenting. You're always welcome here—read and comment (or not) at will.

bonifer said...

Best wishes with your new found friend, 'the pace maker', you will be be back to your old self in no time.
Love your Mayfly, looking forward to the bugs and butterflies of '12
myself, spring is so much fun in our photography world...

Gail said...

HI GRIZZ
beautfiful image, amazing informative post and all good news about you - I feel you healing all the way to Connecticut - the prayers are still coming your way.
Loving you and the bugs too
Gail
peace....

Robin said...

And we are charmed by you.

On the other hand, beautiful as they are... per your description... I wouldn't want to be a Mayfly.

Happy for you....

Grizz………… said...

bonifer…

Fact is, I already feel much better than I did last week—and I've barely started trying out my new rhythm.

You're right, too—spring is one of the most exciting seasons for a photographer. I hate missing a single moment.

Grizz………… said...

Gail…

Thank you. Those prayers must be working, too, as I'm feeling better every day. But I'm worried about you…are you doing okay? This concern works both ways, you know.

Grizz………… said...

Robin…

Nope, I agree. A year as an ugly nymph in the dark underwater muck, then a heartbreakingly brief rush into the sun and light of a warm green world—a dance in the sky and a procreative moment…followed by sudden death. That's the mayfly's lot. Their classification Order name is Ephemeroptera (Mayflies), from the Greek ephemeros…"for a day; short-lived" plus pteron "wing." Winged adults whose lives are brief. The same root from which we get ephemeral—lasting for a very short time.

But they're lovely and near-magical during that fleeting time, like old rock stars all costumed up playing to a house of equally aging fans.