Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Nature's Emissaries of Good News

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8-9 evening class, Monday to Friday  
 1. Roosters are Nature’s alarm clock.
Notice that roosters crow almost at the same time as dawn approaches. Some crow at midnight though. They are fairly accurate in telling us time, but at the height of Mt.Pinatubo’s eruption, roosters in Australia and China were behaving differently. The pyroclastic materials drifting in the atmosphere temporarily took away their sense of time. It was not unusual to hear them crow at anytime of the day or night until the drift settled months after the eruption.
Close up view of a crowing rooster- handsome fellow! The best alarm clock around!www.pinterest.com236 × 358Search by image
With our changing lifestyle, this natural rouser is likewise changing, especially the gamecock. But in the farm where I live, the roosters still crow with a message –

“Early to bed and early to rise,
Makes a person healthy and wise.”
2. Cicada sings for rain.
When you hear the shrilling song of cicada (kuliglig), it means the rains have finally arrived. From here we expect the rains to intensify throughout the southeast monsoon or habagat then tapers off in October. The cicada spends its immature or nymph stage in the ground feeding on roots of plants. 

(Right panel) Cicadas come in many species from the seasonal or one-year old cicada, to the 17-year old cicada often referred to as 17-year old locust. UPLB Museum of Natural History

There are species that complete their life cycle in one year (annual cicada which is most common), two years, and seventeen years (often called seventeen-year old locust). Whatever is the species, the emergence of cicada is at the onset of the rainy season, usually in April or May in most part of the country.

Rain softens the soil and signals the full-grown nymph to get out of its cell. It then climbs to the nearest tree and at some distance from the ground, it metamorphoses into an adult. It is the male cicada that “sings”, which is actually a continuous rapid high-pitched sound - tick-tack-tick-tack… produced by a pair of drums attached on its abdomen. Imagine the lid of a tin can pressed and released in rapid succession. On the other hand, the female cicada is totally mute and her response to a love call is to get near a Romeo whose song pleases her.

3. Cat grooming at the doorway tells of the coming of visitors.
Cats are fastidious clean creatures. Like birds at rest preening, cats lick their paws and fur clean especially after eating. But what has this to do with their alleged ability to forecast? Well, let’s look at it this way. It is customary in the province to cook something especially for our guests. And fond that we are with cats, we let them have their fill while we are cooking.

4. Emergence of the June beetle ushers the start of rainy season. Sometimes in comes out in May, hence also called May beetle.

This beetle, Leucopholis irrorata, resides under the soil for about a year as grub subsisting on roots of plants. It soon develops into pupa, and consequently adult towards the rainy season, remaining in its chamber until the first heavy rain comes. The beetle emerges and looks for food and mate. In a few days it dies, the female having laid dozens of eggs in the soil for the next generation.

What triggers metamorphosis is dictated by a biological clock pre-set by mature in the species. However, differential emergence among members of the population within the same species within a span of three months (April to June) is not fully understood.

5. Hovering dragonflies indicates a coming rain.
Old folks can tell if it’s going to rain early or late in the day just by observing the dragonflies. 
Common red dragonfly at rest
Dragonflies or tutubi' (Odonata) come in horde and hover over our heads in the meadow, farms, football field, or any place where they swoop upon their prey – small insects such as leafhoppers, gnats and midges (gamu-gamu) that escape from their abode to find shelter elsewhere. But how do they sense an oncoming rain? These insects are endowed with sensitive antennae and tactile body hairs, and can detect the changes of temperature and relative humidity that characterize an approaching rain.

The more dragonflies hovering, and the closer they get to the ground, the heavier is the coming rain, the old folks warn. By the way, it is the dragonfly’s predatory habit that has earned them a place in the heart of farmers.

6. If you see birds in the open sea, there must be land nearby.
Christopher Columbus knew there was land nearby when he saw sea birds in the sky. This convinced his disheartened crew who was at the verge of mutiny. The ship followed the birds leading to the discovery of America.
Birds migrating to the south when it is winter in the north guide seafarers. In spring and summer the birds return. It is a long route covering a distance of three thousand miles. 

Sea birds, one with a piece of plastic fishing net stuck around its neck. 20 miles off the coast of Mauritania. www.greenpeace.org800 × 532Search by image

Many of the birds fail to complete the route, and may discover new habitats and interbreed with local birds. Butterflies like the flamboyant monarch butterflies also migrate over long distances, such as the route from North America to Mexico. It is not a wonder to find butterflies not only on land but also at sea.

7. When house lizards (butiki) are noisy, there is a guest coming.
My father used to tell me when I was a child, that if house lizards make loud and crispy calls, it’s likely that a visitor is coming.

How do lizards know? Some people attribute this to the house lizard’s habit of “kissing” the ground at dusk. But this has nothing to do with predicting a guest’s arrival. But we know that when a person is anticipating a guest he is extraordinarily keen, and thus become aware of anything happening in his surroundings – including the mating calls of lizards.

House lizards take a drink on the ground and return to their dwellings on top of trees, on ceilings and roofs where water is scarce. By the way lizards are present where there is a lot of insects they feed on, such as areas around fluorescent lamps and streetlights.

Monarch butterfly migrates southward in enormous population to escape winter in the north.

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