I don’t love trumpeting new technology because consumerism is evil and all that, BUT LOOK AT MY NEW TOY.
The olloclip 4-in-1 lens for the iPhone 6 has made my phone’s camera into the most exciting thing I currently possess. Inspired by Susan Kirt’s more professional photos of tiny creatures in the Calumet region, I’ve taken a stab at my own, low rent versions. In the last week, I’ve taken the following pictures, and while I’m the definition of amateur, it’s still been wonder-inducing the world that’s opening up to me.
So I’ve just been stumbling around, chasing bugs with my phone like an idiot.
At the same time, I’ve been raising a giant swallowtail caterpillar (Papilio cresphonte) and feeding it wafer ash leaves, so naturally it’s become my most frequent model.
The giant swallowtail caterpillar is not only great at mimicry, it’s great at THREE TOTALLY DIFFERENT KINDS OF MIMICRY. Sorry I’m yelling so much. I mean, I’m typing, but I get excited about this stuff. The first kind of mimicry it achieves is that young caterpillar instars look like bird poop – so much so that they confidently chill on top of citrus leaves because they know that only my dog likes to eat bird poop. Then, later in their maturation they look like little snakes, complete with a fake mouth on the top of its head that can also do THIS:
It has a fairly common caterpillar defense organ called osmeterium – a little inflatable appendage from its head that startles potential predators and also smells bad. It comes in a variety of colors depending on the species, but the snake mimic has further modified it to look like a red snake tongue, emerging from the fake snake mouth!
Its final mimicry stage is differently impressive:
The giant swallowtail chrysalis is designed to look like a broken twig – attached to a branch with a little lasso of silk. I love looking at this picture because of its symmetry. It’s programmed in its DNA to eventually look like a random broken twig, but the details are identically bifurcated even in the tiniest parts.
I have to refrigerate it because any giant swallowtails who make a chrysalis this late in the year plan on hunkering down for the winter. Sometimes it shakes. I love it.
Here’s another caterpillar friend:
And here’s a grasshopper who miraculously held still long enough to be photo-captured:
This golden jumping spider hitched a ride in my car after a very rainy workday I was at in Eggers Grove:
And of all the pictures I’ve yet taken this week, this one is thus far my favorite:
The hexagonal pattern in the eye is what I keep looking at, but also it has a little hair coming out of its face! Such focus power! Click on it and zoom in.
I don’t mean to sound too prideful about pictures that I’ve taken, but I see it less about me possessing any talent and more about me possessing a way into seeing things I didn’t see before, everywhere, all the time. And I’m sure I’ll take lots more pictures, obvi, and get to learn buttloads about these individual creatures, their lives, and their role in their myriad ecosystems. Beauty inspiring empathy inspiring wikipedia research! Huzzah!