Jiminy Cricket’s Relative Solves Missing Newspaper

Submitted by Art & Barb Straub

‘Twas a black day, September 12th, 2022, as the morning newspapers went missing. Yes, the plastic wrapped media was in absentia from its spot on the sidewalk west of our rental. Consternation reigned supreme. Who/what would steal our major source to world events, leaving us cut off from fine print information. No paper? A puzzle. The news carrier is always present in wee hours before the sun rises. Had there been an accident along the way? Sad day indeed.

Later in the week, having put this writer’s hearing aids in place, while passing by a large green peony bush on dried edge of lawn came a joyful “Preet, preet, preet” from said bush. Again, “Preet, preet, preet!” “It’s in here! It’s in here!” Sure enough, one of Jiminy Cricket’s descendants had found the paper in the very center of the peony plant, and being a clever, kind, caring brave cricket with a conscience like his ancestor Jiminy, he passed the news of the paper discovery on to its owners. (Jiminy Cricket was the Walt Disney creation from the 1940’s who served as Pinocchio’s conscience, and his wee black ancestor was present in the bushes at 203 Swan Street.) Our little hero/heroine. After perusing the news of the day, perhaps we should have left the paper in the bush!

Insect and larvae exploration and discovery opportunities abound during the final days of summer. Most are free! (Autumnal equinox begins on September 22nd.) Consider nephew Brett (Hannah) and his encounter with a ‘black worm’ on a Virginia Creeper vine in a deep ravine in Tyrone Township. This sharp-eyed youth spied a Pondorus (Pandora) Sphinx moth larva! After 86 years on Planet Earth, this was our first view of such a creature. Brett’s larva comes in many colors, this species was pure black with six brilliant white spots. (See photo.) Although the wriggler appeared dangerous, it was not poisonous, in fact, they have no biting parts. (Identification was verified by Chad H of Bethany College in Mankato. Or ‘punch up’ Pondorus Sphinx on your faithful technology.)

It’s fortunate for Dean Hathaway (Judy) that he looks before he leaps. Dean discovered a Bald-faced Hornet nest along an old fence line near his property. So? What was unusual was that the football sized paper home was practically on the earth and hidden by grasses. Usually the paper football is found high in a tree. One careless stop, and the armed guards/workers would set upon the unsuspecting adventurer. Out of the layers of paper cells made of chewed wood fibers could have emerged a plethora of armed insects. Unlike a honeybee which leaves a single barb in your body, a hornet can sting many times, and since the queen has laid hundreds of eggs, there is an army of painful dangerous bites one may acquire. (Takes one to know one, it’s like being kicked by a small mule.) Dean left the volatile nest alone, realizing the amount of good the insect does, that is, pollination; as they harvest nectar and pollen from a multitude of flowers and plants. Readers have noted how many species of bees and wasps have been busy of late,
as a ‘hard’ frost will cause hornets/wasps to succumb, with the exception of the fertilized queen, who will spend the winter
in a comfy log or brush pile.

Very soon, it’s either adapt, hibernate or vacate the premises for many creatures. As of September 20th, Ruby-throated hummingbirds (young and female) plus Monarch butterflies continue to dilly-dally about leaving the abundant flowers remaining, especially the Mexican sunflower or tithonia, morning glories and zinnias. White egrets have been abundant on Bucks’ Lake and what remains of area ponds. Pelicans continue their leisurely spirals above disappearing ponds and waters. As predicted earlier, Chimney swift counts have dribbled off to 166, 261, 229, 70, 153, 60 on succeeding nights, dropping down the chimney entrance of an old school in LeSueur, compared to 400 – 600 per evening in previous autumns. Oh, oh…… white-throated sparrows are making their annual journey south! Watch the bushes.

Perk up! Some of the best birding opportunities are yet to come, as a huge hawk migration could occur the week of September 20th. Keep in mind Jiminy Cricket this week, that is, clever, kind, caring, polite and brave behavior. Eyes on the skies!!!