Kindling Neighborly Connections between People and Nature.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Insect Eggs on Red Cedar at Roundtop Park (Athens, PA)

I never cease to be amazed at what there is to discover by taking a closer look at things.  A closer look at things in nature often moves me to a place of wonder about what things are and what they will become.

I went for a Sunday-afternoon walk at Roundtop Park in Athens, PA. Much of the forested area at Roundtop Park is composed of mixed coniferous-deciduous forest. When I made my way over the guardrail and down the steep trail from the picnic grove area to Bobcat Road below I noticed that a beautiful red cedar is growing at the edge of the forest. A tree with such character as a red cedar is worth a closer look. One key identifying feature that you'll notice about red cedar branches is that they contain two distinctly different kinds of leaves; scale-like leaves, and short spiky needle-like leaves. 

I approached the tree more closely, and turning over one of the branch tips in my hand, I noticed that it had some kind of white coating. Closer observation revealed that some insect had laid it's eggs on the underside of the end of this particular branch. It looks to me like it could be butterfly eggs, but I can't be certain of that, since there are thousands upon thousands of different species of insects that live in this region. 

If in fact it is butterfly eggs, I've got at least four possibilities. I have a Princeton Field Guide called Caterpillars of Eastern North America. One of the things I like about this particular book is that food plant preferences are listed for each species profile. I flipped through the pages and noted four species that have a preference or a dependence on red cedar: Juniper hairstreak (Callophrys gryneus), Curved-lined angle (Digrammia continuata), Juniper geometer (Patalene olyzonaria), and Variegated midget (Elaphria versicolor).

Without knowing for certain whether these eggs belong to one of the above mentioned species of butterfly or of some other kind of insect altogether, I wonder what will emerge. I'll likely be paying these tiny developing neighbors another visit.

What is true of nature is also true of my spiritual journey. Without knowing, I wonder what new possibilities the Divine Creative Spirit may be working on in me.Without knowing, I wonder what will become of the journey ahead for us all.

Even that which we know best of all has potential to move us to a place of wonder.



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