Today was a different kind of June Bug Day: an upside-down kind. Instead of glossy, green grownups flying over grass, these June beetles are weird, white grubs crawling over streets. But the weirdest thing is how they crawl. Despite having six serviceable little legs, these larvae travel on their backs, upside down.
“Crawl” is too weak a word. Squoonch is better. The grubs squoonch, undulate, and wriggle forward while their feet point at the sky. The sky, meanwhile, is raining, which is why these teenagers leave their underground homes to squoonch somewhere less wet.
How do they do it? With “ambulatory bristles.” Isn’t that a wonderful phrase? Stiff hairs on the outside, plus strong muscles on the inside get the grubs where they wish to go.
But why do they do it? Why not walk on . . . ambulatory legs? No other grubs choose bristles over feet.
Please click the Play symbol to watch 5 seconds of Squoonching:
Even just the endpapers are helpful in Peterson Field Guide to Bird Sounds of Eastern North America. But this is the first time these endpapers don’t end a mystery. There’s this mystery bird, see, who I DON’T see, and who I barely hear: high, fast, faraway.
A Signs of the Season roundup for the second week of October:
Bumblebees go to sleep early now, and our Canada goldenrod is hung with dark, little blobs well before Civil Twilight. Each blob is a bee or fly. Few things are cuter than an upside-down bumblebee falling asleep.
Our Sugar Maple is blowing bubbles in the rain. Not to fret: It’s fine, it’s just one of Nature’s Soaps.
After a long dry spell, rain is washing accumulated salts and acids down rough bark—mixing, agitating as it goes—and crude soap is drooling to the ground. Like shampoo at your feet as you wash your hair in the shower.
“TREE SOAP” is the kind of news I love to share.
Michael was busy when I ran into the kitchen, so I shared to the back of his head, “Our tree is making SOAP!” and then apologized for the distraction.