Saturday, April 20, 2013

April 17 - Wednesday catkins

Wednesday the catkins were coming down in like rain.  The willow oaks in our front yard produce enough catkins to completely cover the house and yard every year.  Like many natural processes the tree's reproductive season is very short and very intense.  The catkins emerge and unload their pollen onto the wind.  Before you know it they're done and fall off the trees, piling up everywhere.

Nature spends amazing amounts of energy to accomplish one task.  The process of creating all those catkins, spreading the pollen, and then dropping them only takes a few days but the payoff must be worth it or evolution would have changed the process by now.

Another example of nature's excess is the cicada.  This year the 17 year brood will be emerging once again.  Think of it:  These creatures spend 17 years underground, emerge, shed their skin to become their adult form, and live for one or two days to mate, then die.  The astounding thing is that they spend all those years underground storing up enough energy to change to their adult form.  That form is one of the largest, heaviest, flying insects in our area.  Not only do they have to have enough stored energy to fly, but also to mate ensuring the next generation.

After the catkins are gone we will be piling up shed cicada shells and a few days after that, dead cicadas.

Nature is messy.


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