By Mary O’KEEFE
This week photos from the Small World Photomicrography Competition were released and to say they are terrifying is an understatement. It took me a long time to look at a fly without seeing Jeff Goldblum or Vincent Price’s face, and “Them” had me worried that someday nuclear waste-eating ants could be at my door; however, it turns out reality is so much more worrisome.
The photo that I think brings home the fact that alien monsters are among us is the closeup of an ant taken by Dr. Eugeijus Kavailaukas as part of the competition (below).
Yep – not only are those little ants that seem to be everywhere and are crawling all over you and your food, they also look like something from a fantasy/sci-fi movie.
Insects and weather have gone hand-in-hand forever. Insects love warm weather, which is something we should all remember as the planet continues to grow warmer due to climate change.
“Insects assume an internal body temperature similar to their environment, leaving them vulnerable to harsh winter weather and fluctuating temperatures. Most insects do not develop or function at temperatures below 50°F, but they do not typically freeze until temperatures are well below -4°F during overwintering,” according to Iowa State University.
This means that as we get warmer, more insects will survive.
Another interesting (and creepy) recent article from Nature Talks and Walks spoke about the beauty of fallen autumn leaves and the apparent increase in spider webs during the fall. The article states the spiders we see crawling around our homes during the fall are males looking for a mate. The female spiders have already established their spider webs in the warmth of a home and are just waiting for the males to show up so they can get cozy. Later, thousands of baby spiders will fill every corner of your house. Yep, these are what nightmares are made of – and you can bet none of these will be the wise cracking Peter Parker.
Weather and insects have a long history in folklore. According to the Almanac, if we observe ants, bees, hornets, crickets and other insects their activity will tell us whether the weather will be cold, warm, windy or fair.
Some of the folklore includes: “See how high the hornet’s nest, ‘twill tell how high the snow will rest.” Others include if anthills are high in July, the coming winter will be hard. When cicadas are heard, dry weather will follow, and frost will come in six weeks. “If ants their walls do frequently build, rain will from the clouds be spilled.” “When bees to distance wing their flight, days are warm and skies are bright; But when their flight ends near their home, stormy weather is sure to come.”
And then there is the cricket as a thermometer. “Crickets are cold-blooded and take on the temperature of their surroundings. Back in 1897, a scientist named Amos Dolbear published an article, ‘The Cricket as a Thermometer.’ The formula expressed in that article became known as Dolbear’s Law. It’s surprisingly simple: To convert cricket chirps to degrees Fahrenheit just count the number of chirps in 14 seconds, then add 40 to get the temperature. The number you get will be an approximation of the outside temperature,” according to the Almanac.
I don’t know about anyone else but when I hear the chirp of a cricket I spend way too much time searching for the source to actually count the chirps. I search and search but never seem to find them … until I put my foot in my shoe and there is the little chirping meteorologist.
I haven’t checked with the spiders, ants or crickets because … eeww creepy; but, according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, we will be seeing nice cool days in the 70s and cooler evenings with lows in the 50s. We should see some winds on Friday with gusts up to 15 mph. There is no rain in the forecast but Monday and Tuesday will have patchy fog, so rain will be adjacent … sort of.