Certain creatures make you wonder, how did you happen? Recently, I’ve read about katydids that show their warning colors after they attack; and flies that can’t fly. The answers are usually unclear (we don’t really know why those katydids wait!) or as bizarre as you might expect (non-flying flies simply spend their lives attached to bats — that’s all!). For my personal encounters, the mysteries facing me aren’t quite as spectacular, and likely easily-explained, but it is still fun and inspiring to discover some things on your own.
This sense of discovery brings me to the maple seed photo featured in this post. Naturally, I have seen numerous of these “whirlibirds” (or is it “twirlibirds”?) since my childhood, but until recently I hadn’t noticed that they can be stunningly pink! That’s nice, you’re saying, but…so what? The seed was the key to solving a mystery for me: why had a certain moth, Dryocampa rubicunda, developed its unique look in association with maple? Perhaps you know it by its more cheerful name?
Naturally, it’s the Rosy Maple Moth! I had always wondered why a moth associated with maple trees would be one of the brightest shades of pink you will encounter on any creature in New England (or most places I’d wager); it’s not exactly a typically naturally-occurring color for anything much besides flowers around here. I had the shot to the right on hand from a previous post; not a perfect comparison shot, but I think it gives you and idea of what’s going on here.
So my own, probably obvious via entomological literature, little mystery solved without dry words and a small Eureka! moment realized exploring on one sunny summer day.