Special Guest Blog article by John Latimer, host of KAXE/KBXE Phenology Show
As the sap gatherers start to spend time in the sugarbush they will encounter moths that come to their buckets to sip the sweet water. These small, stout-bodied moths often escape our notice. Then one night in early spring as we are driving home, there they are, swirling into the arc of our headlights only to be pounded to oblivion on the front of our cars. This is not exactly what the moths had in mind but their navigation system has evolved to use the moon as a fixed reference point. Any bright light causes them confusion.
These early season moths have a short fat body surrounded by thick hairs designed to keep them warm. They begin to become active when the air temperature approaches the freezing point. By shivering the moths raise their body temperature to nearly one hundred degrees. Once they warm up they can fly. This moth has evolved to avoid the predation of bats and birds by mating and laying eggs while the bats are still dreaming, and the birds are far to the south. The eggs are laid on the emerging plant buds, which give the caterpillars a chance to develop before their enemies proliferate.
The Phenology Show can be heard every Tuesday at 7:20 AM on Northern Community Radio KAXE 91.7 Grand Rapids KBXE 90.5 Bemidji 89.9 in Brainerd and 103.9 in Ely. It can be heard streaming on www.kaxe.org and archived at www.kaxe.org/programs/phenology.aspx