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Little Crum Creek  . . .  Fireworks nightly,
Fireworks for hours.*



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Last summer, I discovered a sycamore tussock moth caterpillar beset by parasites that would ultimately spell its demise (see original post here).

Since that time I’ve wondered how this creature might have looked had it lived to adulthood.

Then, recently, a promising possibility came crawling up a shrub in the sycamore shade.

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The ID team at BAMONA says it could actually be one of two moths.

Sycamore tussock and banded tussock moths look so much alike that they can’t be distinguished through pictures.

Though reports of the banded tussock may be more common, our trees and annual caterpillar sightings strongly suggest the sycamore tussock.

In either case, my question about the caterpillar’s adult appearance seems settled.

Besides, according to Bug Guide, confirming the identity of one or the other requires genital dissection.

Not to worry little one.  I can live with the mystery.
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Not to be outdone in color and design, but a bit more shy than red-banded leafhoppers,

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broad-headed sharpshooters tirelessly scurry round leaf and stem to avoid detection.

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Here an adult and nymph just happen to meet a marksman equal to their game of hide & seek.


A few weeks ago, while peddling along the woodland edge of Ridley Creek State Park, an eastern tiger swallowtail fluttered past my slow roll up an incline.

Standing to gain on its flight, I accidentally jammed gears, ground to a halt, and had to surrender the pace.

But the butterfly doubled back, flashed left and right before my handlebars, and resumed the way only when I set off again.

Later parting at a fork atop the hill, I waved thanks & praise to my continuing friend and rolled to rest alone in the shadow of a tulip tree.

It was flowering unusually low to the ground.

So I left the park with this picture of a bloom and the memory of a curious companion that led me there.

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Later, while mulling it over along Little Crum Creek, someone called me to a large moth perched wide on a window screen.

Carefully I removed the docile thing to a nearby trunk, snapped some pictures with the hope of discovering its identity, and soon marveled at how the moth’s name could have been recognized in the curious convergences of our day.

For here was Epimecis hortaria, the tulip tree beauty, a moth named for the recently seen flowering tree that hosts its larvae (a tree, incidentally, that I have not yet noticed here along Little Crum Creek).

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A lone pied-billed grebe,

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blending well upon Ridley Park Lake,

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suddenly dives to feed,

or otherwise

elude our gaze,

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and emerge some spot distant

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to dry in the air of day.



Here along our usually shady confines, Glechoma hederacea must compete with more aggressive plants like English ivy. 

So it flowers with the kind of charming modesty that inspires a name like  “hedgemaids.”

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But downstream of our usual vantage, Little Crum Creek opens onto a 20-acre lake created when the borough of Ridley Park was founded in the 1870s.

Surrounding the lake, an extensive lawn provides the little European species ample room to flourish.

And the plant’s aggressive spread might suggest its more common (though decidedly less florid) name of “ground ivy.”

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But stooping for a whiff of minty-scented leaves sent from creeping stems might also put us in mind of more colorful names like “creeping Charlie.” 

And from the French guiller, meaning “to ferment,” the plant’s herbal use  in flavoring beer is specifically reflected in “Gill-over-the-ground.”

Surely the plant’s useful beauty, weedy though it be, helps explain its spread by settlers across North America.

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[Images are sharper when clicked.]

An earthquake on Tuesday (August 23, 2011).

A hurricane on Saturday & Sunday (August 27-28, 2011).

And Little Crum Creek isn’t any worse for wear.

The earthquake shook ground up and down the east coast, felt here by some but not by others.

Meanwhile Hurricane Irene pruned a lot of leaves and dead branches along these banks, bent a few small trees, and flattened some weeds.

But, despite over 5 inches falling, the creek itself didn’t rise so high in the steady rain. Nor did Ridley Lake, just downstream in Ridley Park.

As a short stream, just over 3 miles long, Little Crum Creek is flashy and fills more dramatically in heavy rainfall over a shorter period of time.  In fact, it rose higher in a storm nearly two weeks ago (August 15, 2011) than it did in Irene.

Surrounding streams, however, accumulating more runoff over greater distances, responded more dramatically to the hurricane.  Darby Creek, Ridley Creek, and Crum Creek (into which the Little Crum flows) each flooded its banks in places.

Lots of folks stopped by the falls of Crum Creek, along Yale Avenue in Swarthmore PA, to see this unusually high flow of water over the old stone dam.

Hopefully, you can get a sense of the water’s response to Irene in this video of comparative views from the falls at different rates of flow:


Today is sunny and calm.

Little Crum Creek resumes its normal variations.

New post in a couple days or so.