Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Field observations on a random day

A night ghoom has been most stimulating. A mantis, several Barsines, a few Geometrids, a coupla frogs, a groovy caterpie.. all these to welcome me, who is back to the most familiar place in my life aka home after 3 days. It wasn't a long separation, but sure feels like it, since there has been a bloom of several new species in the past week following the monsoons. The caterpillars that fed voraciously on the fauna all around are now pupating and imago-ing. Their last stage is the most exciting, since their bodies attain unique forms, more so than their caterpillar stages. It is seldom that the things most beautiful as caterpillars turn out as adult form in rather simple shapes and muted colours, but that is also one line of evolution that has gone right. Everything in the moth world gets hunted and eaten, by much larger predators of various kinds, and every size has its own hiders and seekers.

A few other reasons why the last stage of butterflies/moths is a WIN:
- A new set of legs achieved
- A new mobility mechanism achieved: Flight
- New panic response sets and related mobilities achieved
- A great transition from living as an egg-bound species, to a subterranean (as a larva), to living on the forest floor (as a caterpillar), and flying on the sweep of winds all day (as an imago)
- A redistribution of body mass achieved
- A new vision achieved
- A new feeding mechanism achieved: Proboscis
- A new food achieved: Nectar
- A new growth mechanism achieved: Molting
- A great set of sensory mechanisms achieved - highly developed antennae (among the lepids, moths have a higher sense of smell than butterflies, and also, moths have antennae in very complex shapes while butterflies have clavate antennae - surely developed in response to the need for more predictable flight and least wind resistance), highly resilient bodies (in this case as well, the moths have an upper hand - many of them even shun mouth parts to conserve their final stage bodies and do nothing but lounge during the day and breed at night, with the male being the one doing the traveling looking for a "transmitting" female through trails of pheromones scattered in the 3d spaces in nature)

In general, a much greater world awareness achieved.
Maybe they don't get as much time to think about the world as an imago. As caterpillars, they spend much more time immobile and sated, maybe that's when they do most of their thinking.

No comments: