The insect theme continues this week at Wahkeena. While walking the Shelter Trail I noticed a tell-tale sign on the forest floor. The grayish stain was an indication of activity in the tree above.
The stain is the droppings from an active colony of Woolly Aphids who are busily sucking the sap from the branches of an American Beech tree.
Even at this young stage the aphids are completely covering many of the lower branches of the tree creating a white mass.
On closer inspection one can see the individual aphids huddled close together in the photo above.
Below, gently disturbing the mass of insects sets them all a quivering, fluffing up their cottony covered abdomens as the entire mass moves in unison. This may serve as a distraction to would be predators.
Not much is blooming in the woods at this time of year, but I did come across Hog Peanut (Amphicarpa bracteata). This member of the Pea Family climbs over other plants to get its share of sunlight energy.
And jumping back to insects... the ones below like to hang out at the old stone barbecue. These are Camel Crickets. Also referred to as long-horned crickets because of their long antennae. They prefer dark secluded places. Their large hind legs give them powerful jumping ability and along with their color contribute to the camel name (as in two humps).
Posted by Tom