During this time when we’re all thrown off our usual paths, most of us are forced, in one way or another, to look at our surroundings in a new light. During Covid, insects may not strike you as enlightening, but then again, they might.
Here are a few insects I have seen on hikes and adventures that remind me to stop and take that extra second to observe with whom I am sharing the trail.
This is an owl butterfly that we saw in Trinidad a few years ago. At first glance, it looks like detritus, but look more closely and you see a butterfly. Here you can also see the butterfly is extending its proboscis (the curled stem in the head region), not something you can always see.
On a bird safari in Belize last year, we saw at least a hundred butterflies puddling near a storage building drainpipe. At first it looked like black dirt in the gravel.
But all that black to the right of the drainpipe, in the gravel, is actually a huge kaleidoscope of black kite-swallowtail butterflies. They’re sucking up the nutrient-rich moisture. Looking closely, you see exotic features like blue legs and a forked tail.
At home, where most of us are staying for now, there are numerous creatures we’ve never seen before.
Being aware of insects is not just a pleasant pastime, it can be a good check on your safety, as well. We learn early in life to pay attention to bees, wasps, and other stinging insects.
In the dry, chaparral habitat where I live, scorpions (technically an arachnid) live hidden under leaf litter. They have a stinging capacity, though not seriously harmful. They’re ferocious little critters, but only as big as your pinky finger.
Dragonflies. If you are able to capture a nanosecond with a dragonfly, a whole new universe opens up before you.
On a personal note, two weeks ago I slipped on loose gravel on a trail, and ended up in the hospital undergoing reconstructive ankle surgery. I have to spend my days lying flat on my back for awhile, so please excuse sporadic attendance and cryptic comments.
When I can walk again, I will be back on the trail. When the world is allowed out again and there isn’t a deadly virus threatening us, we will all be back out again.
But until then, I hope you are granted a chance to see new creatures that you never noticed before.
Written by Jet Eliot.
Photos by Athena Alexander.