Monday, July 1, 2013

June 30, 2013

The theme for this week at Lake Wicwas has been water:  Rain, clouds, showers, fog, thunderstorms, humidity - everywhere it's been wet.  The lake is full, the streams are flowing profusely, and the bugs - they are about the only creatures that thrive in this weather.  The deer flies seem to be having an especially good year.  The Mayflies also came out this week, as usual, one month late based on their name. 

Adult Mayfly

The Mayfly has some unusual characteristics.  For one, after living as a an immature "naiad" for up to a year in the water, once it matures into an adult, it lives only a day or two.  (Its species, Ephemera, means short-lived.)  It is also unique in that it is the only insect that molts after it has developed wings.  It undergoes many molts during its life as a naiad in the lake, living under rocks or leaves at the bottom of the lake.  Its final molt as a naiad is to a winged "subimago" which can fly, but is not sexually mature.  This near-final stage then molts once more into the final adult form.  This explains why I find Mayfly skins up on the windows facing the lake - they must fly up from the lake, and then perform their final metamorphosis.  After that, they mate, lay their eggs on the surface of the lake, and die.
Adults Mayfly after molting from its subimago form

Out on the trails around the lake, I found many more Red Efts (Eastern Newts) enjoying the damp weather - they don't need to hide under ground when it's so humid, so they can be out exploring and looking for food.
Eastern Newt (Red Eft Stage)

At the other end of the animal spectrum, I came across some very fresh Black Bear scat right in the middle of a trail. 
Bear Scat
It shows their current diet is mostly vegetation and seeds.  This was not a very large animal based on the size of the scat.

All the rain has reconstituted the vernal pools, turning them into "estival" pools.  (I had to look that up:   "estival" is the equivalent term for summer, and "hibernal" the term for winter!)
Vernal Pools Re-filled with Recent Rain

With all the water, the lush growth, and the high water content in the air, it's looking more like a tropical rainforest than northern New England!

Let's hope things dry out a bit in time for the holiday weekend.  Have a fun and safe Fourth of July!

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