It’s fall, it’s hot and the insects love it!

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Lubber grasshopper will either fascinate you or repel you. They are big and they are voracious. We’ve seen them at Nick’s campsite off Womack Creek. This one was at the Womack Creek landing. Fortunately, the only one we saw.

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Ringed paper wasp, swarms of them, may come upon you if your paddle hits the branch.

When I was young, my dad tried raising bees. I was fascinated by these creatures although I did not like honey. To his credit, although he used a smoker and a veil, he showed me how to act among bees and wasps: do not make abrupt moves, progress slowly as though you are part of the scene, if bees come near you stop and remain still, if they alight on you, let them be — be patient, they will fly away. Do not be afraid of them (that was before I found out that some people are highly allergic to insect stings) — they are doing just what they need to do to protect themselves. Nevertheless, I still carry a snack bag of baking soda which works wonders as a poultice to put over an insect bite.

On Womack creek there were about 4 of these paper wasp nests.

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This time of year, as winter should be soon upon us, it’s unusual to fine insect larvae of insects which life cycle is a year. This one may be able to form a chrysalis before the cold. Still unidentified. It’s on alligator weed, a plant which is invasive. We did not remove it when we first saw it in spring of 2018 and regret not doing so. That single stand has propagated itself throughout the creek and almost impossible to remove (with a kayak) because of it’s weight and mass.

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Here’s what we think is the larvae of the alligatorweed flea beetle. The alligator weed flea beetle has a short life span. This was removed from an case of leaves, still not ready to be on its own. The spotted areas of the leaves indicate the eating pattern of the flea beetle.

The mats of the alligator weed on Womack Creek indicated that the leaves had been consumed during the summer and new leaves are reappearing. Also reappearing are the larval cases of this flea beetle.

And everywhere we see the work of the alligator flea beetle, we also see spiders of the Tetragnatha genus. They lay their eggs on the tips of the alligator leaves or in folds of lower leaves and with their silk form an envelope to protect the eggs. In some of these cottony folds, when unfurled, either a spider or eggs or both may appear. I was not able to get a photo to either in Tate’s Hell, but spiders are very active now on Womack Creek. It’s not unusual in the fall to have a cockpit full of small spiders which have fallen from branches one paddles under.

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Photograph above is of a 6 spotted fish spider.

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Here’s another spider sack on a button bush, species not known.

We watched with fascination as this female Carolina preying mantis slowly deposited her eggs in a case.

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The woods, swamps and waterways of Tate’s Hell are a whirlwind of activity as its creatures prepare for the winter.

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