Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Hairy guys

A dry night was forecast last night and so it proved; but it was also extremely cold and the moths - see previous post - never got the chance to warm up and take off. There were none in the trap whose only occupants were these two caddis flies, above and below.

The caddis is a wonderful creature. It belongs to a separate order from butterflies and moths whose name, Trichoptera, means 'hairy wing', just as Lepidoptera - the term for butterflies and moths - means 'scaly wing'.  You can see the little hairs in the pictures. Aren't the patterns on the wing membranes fascinating too?

Caddis meant a coarse type of wool in the days when the word was in common usage. This may refer to the hairyness but more likely comes from the larvae's remarkable construction of silk homes underwater. They also come to resemble small scraps of that cereal of my youth, Fru Grains.

The flies emerge en masse from their youthful element, water, into their adult one, the air, a habit which  ensures their survival because the males and females meet immediately and mate almost as soon. This is just as well because predators make hay with them; birds and especially fish. The caddis is probably best-known outside the entomological world as lure used by fishermen and there are some wonderfully realistic examples online. It's specially worth checking out the ones which are on this website here - so good that some daft anti-creationist book pinched them as illustrations but didn't notice the hooks!

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