This is just a miscellaneous collection of little stories about animals and insects. I've always been interested in nature, and enjoy watching the natural world as much as I do watching people. I hope you won't be bored!
The back of our house was lined with a row of bricks for some reason. I can't really say it was decorative, so I presume it has some sort of construction function. :-)
If you lifted up a brick, you could see the insects that lived underneath: ants, crickets, worms, spiders, centipedes, millipedes, pillbugs and other ickies. Being a tomboy, most of that stuff didn't bother me, except for the spiders. Once I saw a spider with a pure white body and a bright red head. Not sure what species that was, maybe it was an albino?
Anyway, I loved catching and playing with crickets - they tickled in your hand when they wiggled around! I would put them in a jar with some grass and a bottle cap of water, but they never survived. :-(
Around 4th grade, I started getting scientific. We had learned how to humanely (yeah, right!) kill bugs, and then pin them to a board for display. I went along with this, for some stupid reason. I brought in the best collection, I thought! I had adult males and females, both front and back views, and youngsters and babies and eggs. I don't recall getting much more than a "That's nice." though.
BTW, the females are the ones that have a long projection from the rear, which is called an ovipositor, I believe. I'm too lazy to go look it up! LOL It is inserted into the ground, and that's what the eggs are delivered through. In the pictures above, you can see the ovipositor on the female cricket in the right picture.
As the kids in the neighborhood grew up, I supplied them with their own crickets for their projects. We had a never ending supply!
Being a pedestrian, I am always waiting for rides. One time, at the doctor's, I was sitting outside on a raised stone garden. It was about 4 foot square, with a decent ledge to sit on. It was always filled with flowers during the summer, which it happened to be. Far away, across the parking lot, I saw a butterfly and it was flying very haphazardly as if it was being buffeted by a strong wind. But there was no wind, not even a breeze, to speak of. The butterfly landed on a flower, and I commented to another person waiting for a ride, that the butterfly certainly wasn't afraid of being so close to humans, and she agreed. After a few minutes, the butterfly took off, and flew in a straight line. I then realized that he'd been flying on fumes and had just gotten his tank refilled! LOL
On another note, who came up with the name "butterfly"? Shouldn't it be "flutterby"?
One time, my friend Gail and I went to her friend Jean's house. Gail warned me that Jean had 3 cats, but I would probably not see them, as they wouldn't come out for anyone. Well, you know what happened, right? Yup! Within half an hour, I had one cat on the back of the couch draped halfway over my shoulder, one cat curled up in my lap, and the other was next to me on the couch, love-biting my knuckles. Both ladies were flabbergasted! LOL
That was the first time I had gotten love bites and I was a
little concerned about those sharp teeth. But both Gail and Jean reassured me
that this is something some cats will do and is a sign that they like you and
what you are doing. Whew!
I've had three "encounters" with dragonflies - so neat! As kids, we always ran away from dragonflies, but I grew out of that, fortunately.
Story #1: When a friend's dad passed way, I attended the funeral which was held in the Rural, WI area. I have to describe this town - it was very quaint, and I mean that in a lovely way. The dad's house used to be a waystation for people crossing country in their covered wagons. The house was filled with many antiques. The town was still old-fashioned, too, as if it were being kept in the 40's or 50's era. After the funeral, we came back to the house for refreshments and we all then traipsed up the block to the gas station/general store with a creaky wooden floor (remember those?) and they had a HUGE selection of penny candy! We all immediately got nostalgic and bought bags of the goodies!
Afterwards, we came back to the house and our friends wanted to show us the cemetery (different from where the dad had been buried, this one was now closed off as it was so old, it was full, if I remember right). This was a few blocks walk, all uphill, so I took a pass. Instead, I sat on a bench that was across the street from the house, where a creek or river ran. It was very shallow, but there were a bunch of canoers going by, so apparently it was deep enough for that.
While I was sitting there, a dragonfly was buzzing around and eventually landed on the far end of the branch. I sat there admiring him and he would take off every now and then and come back. I even talked to the darn thing! But eventually he got bored and took off for good. It lasted a good half hour though.
Story #2: I had a boyfriend that lived in CA (I am in IL) and I went out to see him several times. The first time I was there, I noticed he had a dragonfly that liked to roost on his car's antenna. Again, I admired him quite a bit (he looked like the one in the picture - bright red!) but he would take off when I got close enough to get in the car.
The second time I came to visit about 6 weeks later, I noticed that not only would the dragonfly still roost on the antenna, but whenever I came outside, he would show up. Not when my boyfriend showed up alone, but when I was there. He would fly up and down the sidewalk as we walked to the car, and then wait for us on the antenna. Neat!
About 2 months later, I went back to CA for the 3rd and final time. As I approached the car one time, I held my hand up with a finger extended, like a perch. He let me get close enough to place my finger behind his legs, as that's how you get birds to perch on your finger. Well, that must not work on dragonflies, because he took off! Oh, well. Still a very neat experience!
Story #3: My apartment complex has a swimming pool, and one day I noticed a dragonfly zipping back and forth. I couldn't tell for sure if he was skimming bugs off the surface or getting sips of water. So I tried holding my hands up, cupping water, hoping he would perch and drink.
He went back and forth, getting closer and closer, but he never came in to land. But I can say with some degree of certainty that dragonflies are very curious and definitely intelligent creatures!
Note: These are not my pictures, just ones I found.
Story #1: When we were little kids, we used to vacation in Wisconsin at a cabin on a lake. I only remember one trip when I was maybe 4? So the others must have been before I could remember.
My dad took turns taking us out in the rowboat. When it came to my turn, he let me row the boat, and I lost one of the oars! He was SOOOO mad at me!
We found a big turtle or tortoise and kept it in a galvanized round tub that was at the cabin, a good 2 feet or more across, and the turtle nearly filled it. We turned him loose when we left and he seemed fine. He was probably terrified, though! And bored stiff, I bet! LOL
Dad caught a bunch of fish one day. There is a family picture of him kneeling on the grass, and he had nailed all the fish from largest to smallest onto a plank. I seem to remember at least 8 fish on that board. However, another memory is of the cabin table piled with fish, possibly many more than a dozen, maybe 2 dozen. My sister, who would have been 6 if I was 4, was peering closely at the fish, and one reacted, and flipped her in the face with it's tail! We still tease her about that, 40 years later!
Story #2: One year, when I was about 10, we were to spend our vacation up in the Wisconsin Dells, a wonderful tourist trap. However, on the way there, our car engine broke down. The mechanics were unable to repair it, and it would take several days for them to get the part in. So we were dropped off at a tent campsite, which is how we did our vacations after I was 6.
The campsite was on a lake, which suited all of us except maybe my sister. She was 12, and very much into music groups, and had a carton of her teen magazines along. The lake had a U-shaped dock or pier which gave a nice area of clear water and beach for swimmers.
One day, being bored, I was sitting on the dock, just like those kids in the picture above, watching other people fish. I wanted to do that, too, but had no equipment and I didn't think my dad would rent any for me. One kid had a tackle box with him, full of all sorts of things. I went and got a branch about 2 1/2 feet long and crooked, and pulled up a strand of seaweed from the outer edge of the dock and stripped the leaves off it. Another short chunk of stick served as a bobber. The boy with the tackle box let me have a hook. Back down to the beach area, I used a can or cup to search the wet sand for worms, and found a big fat earthworm. I was all set!
I dropped my line into the water, and I don't remember how long it took, but soon I had caught a 4 or 5 inch sunfish! I was SOOO proud of myself! I ran down to where my dad was sunning on the beach and showed him. He was very pleased. We walked back to the tent, and I was holding the fish, still on the hook, over my shoulder so it was hidden behind my back. I was trying so hard not to smirk and not succeeding! LOL
My mom saw us and asked what was happening, and I just burst all over the place and showed her the fish. My dad got the hook out and we kept the fish overnight in a bowl of water. The next morning we let it go as I didn't want him eaten. We had a close call before that happened, though. When I woke up and left the tent, the fish was flopping around on the ground. Luckily, it must have just happened. That's probably what made me decide to put him back.
Either that day or the next, as I was walking around, I spotted a tangled clump of fishing line. I was able to detangle a long enough length to replace my seaweed. Then I got a bunch of sandworms, which are very short and skinny, and back out to the dock I went. My tackle box buddy was there, and he lent me a sinker to use. Between the two of us, we must have over 50 sunfish! But, because we were using sandworms, all these sunfish were tiny, like 2 or 3 inches maximum. So they all got put back when we were finished, and my buddy got his hook and sinker back.
I don't remember how it happened, but my glasses got knocked off my face into water. The water was deeper there, and all full of seaweed, but the kids could see them (I am blind as a bat and couldn't). I was crying because I didn't know what my father would have done if I couldn't get them back! One of the kids was nice enough to go down into that water and get them back! Whew!
The following Christmas, I got a rod and reel for a gift. But we never went fishing after that. :-( My brother ended up using it a number of years later when he went fishing with his buddies. The rod proved too light for what he was catching, and the rod snapped. :-(
Around the same time as my succesful fishing experience above, my dad got into aquariums. We eventually had 2 50 gallon tanks and a 30 gallon tank, plus a small 5 or 10 gallon one for when any fish had babies or when we had a Siamese Fighting Betta fish. I got very involved with it and helped him out whenever I could. We had a good varitety of fish: mollies, swordfish, catfish - tiger and albino, a plecostomus, neon tetras, clown loaches, angelfish, rosy barbs, hatchetfish, kissing gouramis, a red-tailed shark, a red platy or two (I don't know how to pluralize it! LOL) and a few guppies. The tanks were very lively and colorful!
A plecostomus is a homely algae-eater. It looks very prehistoric!
Its sucker mouth is on the underside, and it scoots up and down the walls of
tanks or rocks and keeps it pretty clear of algae.
The guppies, swordfish, and mollies bred, but since we had no idea when the mothers birthed, we lost almost all the babies. These are live-bearing rather than egg-laying fish. And they love to eat each other's babies as well as their own! Out of the ones we saved, only one mollie lasted for a few months. It never seemed to grow much though and we were all sad when it died.
Here are some pictures I found online of the various types of fish we had.
Siamese Fighting Betta fish
This is very similar to what I remember our Betta looked like. It had to be kept in a separate tank by itself as it would attack other fish.
These fish really do kiss! I imagine they are just looking for food, though.
These tiny fish look great in schools. We had at least a half dozen.
This is a form of catish, not a shark. It just looks like one. When we first turned on the aquarium light in the mornings, ours was a faded gray with a pink tail. Within a few minutes, he was a sleek velvety black with a bright red tail.
Red Wag Platy
We had to be very careful feeding the fish or cleaning the tank, as these guys liked to jump out and commit suicide.
Fancy Tail Guppies
The males (top) have glorious tails and fins, while the females (bottom) are rather plain.
These guys liked to hide a lot. They mainly hid in the back of the tanks, in the corners, behind the thermometer or rocks and plants.
This picture looks most like what I remember ours looked like. Nowadays, it seems when I see a cichlid, it is glowing, usually with neon blue spots. I don't remember ours ever glowing.
We had 2 of these, and one was much smaller, so they were Big Joe and Little Joe.
This is a picture of a female (top) and male (bottom). The female is typically larger than the male and doesn't have the swordtail. If I remember right, our swordtail's swordtail was black.
This is the one where she had babies, but only one lasted a few months.