Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Today's Adventures

We went to the Fall Fete for the Grand Prairie Friends. The weather was sunny and warm. I picked up some useful flyers.

We took the Butterfly Walk. It was about half and half things I already knew or things that were clear over my head, but there were a few new tidbits at my level. At one point we got to talking about monarchs and how raising them indoors can disable their compass. Many factors influence insect development and behavior -- light, temperature, diet, etc. -- but our guide mentioned a new one to me: the age of the food plants. Not the bloom or seed period, but the actual age of the leaves that the caterpillars are eating. Ahh, this explains much!

I have also been reading reports that wildlife species are drifting out of phase. Where plants, insects, and birds (for one example) used to peak at the same time, now they often peak at different times because they are following different cues; and not all species, but only some of them. If the insects miss an important plant peak, their population can crash. If birds miss the insect peak or the insects have crashed, there's no food for their broods. If the bloom or seed period is offset, that's fairly obvious. But if the plants are present, just their leaves are the wrong age, that's a much subtler problem and I would bet it's behind at least some of the offsets that researchers were calling "inexplicable." Plants are more often cued by temperature, which means they are leafing out earlier and earlier. The divergence problem is bad and getting worse as climate change progresses. >_<

We saw 10 species of butterflies. These included clouded sulphur, cloudless sulphur, cabbage white, pearl crescent, painted lady, buckeye, eastern tailed blue, fiery skipper, pipevine swallowtail, and monarch. :D Mostly they were congregating on goldenrod and frost aster.

I also got to thinking about if-then mechanics. The game Chrononauts uses mostly "if A then B" simple causality, but some "if A and B then C" complex causality.  Insects use a complex mix of cues to determine their development and behavior.  So it occurred to me that you could make an environmental game using the same mechanics, just different details.

After that event, we went to an apple orchard to pick up cider. I also spotted a gourd with a pentagram pattern, which I had not seen before, so we bought that too.

For lunch we went to a nearby barbecue restaurant. We split a platter with 2 meats (pulled pork and smoked turkey) and 2 sides (macaroni & cheese and applesauce). Quite good eating.

I'm tired and got overly warm while out, but it was a good trip.
Tags: event, illinois, nature, personal, wildlife
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