On last Sunday's forest ramble, I visited a large beech tree growing bank-side on Old Field Creek. There's a lot going on with that old tree. Slender beech saplings ring close round. The shady north side of the old tree's trunk is covered in green moss. On the sunnier side, a flat, spreading patch of lichen grows well above the arm's reach, the color of an oxidized copper statue. A well-healed scar marks the old beech's upstream side, a vestige of a lightning strike from the west.

I was admiring the old tree while standing in the winter-dried creek bed. This vantage point brought the tree's base into closer view. It appeared that seven or so nails had been driven into the base of the trunk--driven right up to their round heads. Moving in still closer, I saw movement and picked one up. Soft, light, spherical: apparently fashioned from finely shredded lichen, perhaps gathered from the same tree. Before I could get a better look, the wind blew the tiny puff out of my hand. I took a quick photo (below) of one still clinging to the trunk, not wanting to molest another one with handling.

A quick internet search back home suggested that these "beech-combers" were likely larval lacewings. Lacewings camouflage themselves with covering of debris, including fine hairs snipped from leaves and even parts of dead insects, some of which may be remnants of meals past. This time of year, with the leaves off the trees and most insects also taking their leave, lichens would be a dependable sartorial choice. Garbed in their fluffy sweaters, the little larvae were likely headed off to secure a cozy crevice for the winter--maybe even in base of that same beech. Wherever their refuge, there they will pupate and, if they survive the next few cold months, emerge as adults in spring.

הועלה ב-דצמבר 9, 2014 09:15 אחה"צ על ידי scadwell scadwell




מרושתי-כנף (סדרה Neuroptera)




דצמבר 7, 2014


Orange Co., NC (Google, OSM)


Camouflaged with lichen, one of less than a dozen specimens at the foot of a large American Beech tree.


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