Summer Connect – Eco Wonders!

Today’s post is full of interesting facts about special coping mechanisms plant and animal species have for living life to the fullest in the warm summer months. Bet you learn something new!

VenomTransfer. Pipevine swallowtail larvae feed on the poisonous pipevine plant and collect its toxins, retaining the chemicals throughout adulthood for protection against predators. Other butterflies, like the red-spotted purple butterfly, benefit from mimicking this lethal swallowtail.

PoisonStar. Originally from Eastern Europe and the Middle East, the white star of Bethlehem blooms in late spring. To avoid animal ingestion and to ensure pollination, this plant’s nutritious bulbs are filled with alkaloids that poison unwary foragers.

LittleWing. The Southern California blue pygmy is the smallest butterfly species in the world; it has a wingspan of only one-half inch. Like many other butterflies, it spreads northward to breed in summer.

DuckDown. Like most duck breeds, the black duck has special glands near its tail that secrete impermeable oil. Its outer feathers are so waterproof that, even when the bird is submerged, the inner, fluffy down stays dry.

MaleMother. Male seahorses, along with other male fish of Syngnathidae family, have a unique reproductive role. The female deposits 5 to 1,000 eggs into the male’s abdominal brood pouch, and then he fertilizes and incubates them for 9 to 45 days.

SuperShell. Box turtles have a hinged shell that enables them to retract completely into their bony armor when threatened. If damaged or burned, the carapace of the box turtle can completely regenerate.

OldTimers. Horseshoe crabs are an ancient species: their armored anatomy hasn’t changed in about 350 million years. During early summer high tides, flocks of red knot shorebirds feed on their eggs in North America’s Delaware Bay.

InflatableFeatures. Male northern elephant seals, like their southern counterparts, develop a large inflatable nose, or proboscis, by the time they are seven years old. It is used during the breeding season to amplify vocal territorial displays.

DolphinCorral. Bottlenose dolphins in Florida Bay beat their tails while swimming in a circle to corral fish. Trapped in a circle of silt, the fish jump headlong into the mouths of the eagerly awaiting pod.

SnowDance. Snowy egret mates cannot identify each other away from their nest. Consequently, an egret returning to its nest to relieve its mate must perform an extravagant greeting ritual to avoid being attacked as an intruder.

BeetleRun. The oogpister beetle avoids predators by spraying them with toxic formic acid collected from the ants it ingests. The defenseless Eremias lugubris lizard mimics the beetle’s gait and black and white coloration in hopes of discouraging its own predators.

DelayedDigestion. Unique among arthropods, the scorpion has the ability to retard its metabolism to one-third its usual rate, which permits it to subsist on a small amount of oxygen and as little as one insect per year.

(Today’s info is taken from my favorite desk calendar, Chris Hardman’s Ecological Calendar 2013 – A new way to experience time. www.ecocalendar.info.)

Come back later this week for a summer update from the Farmer’s Almanac and a personal summer experience.

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