Timing is Everything Miniseries

Updated: Nov 16, 2018


Beginning our next series called "Timing is Everything", because in Nature, it is. Just like with people, relationships, sports, and business. In the case of this grape sphinx moth, timing is the difference between success and failure, life and death. It needs to open its camouflaged upper wings at just the right moment to scare off would-be predators with surprisingly red under-wings. And it has to lay its eggs well before the grape leaves drop, so its caterpillars have an uninterrupted supply. Procrastinators just don't make it with this species!


Part 2..Timing is Everything. Smoke from distant fires makes for intense sunsets and alarmed plants. They know they could be next. But the subject at hand is timing, and how things have to be timed just right for the months of intense drought that turn plants into tinder-dry fuels, the lightening strike, the subsequent weather patterns that bring explosive thunderstorm winds, but no rain. These exquisitely timed factors have brought a 27,000 acre fire to country that hasn't burned for 100 years, and it's just over the ridge!



Part 3 in "Timing is Everything"... So true with cottonwoods and willows. Around here, masses of cottony seeds fill the air like snow in June. And a fair number land along the streams, the only natural habitat in this desert that has enough water for cottonwoods. Viable for only a few days, the seeds must land on fresh sand and silt deposited from snowmelt flooding. Then the race is on to sprout and send down a root that chases the sinking water table as the snowmelt ends and the stream recedes. If the trees missed this date by a week or two, there wouldn't be any more of them.


Part 4, "Timing is Everything". Lesser goldfinch, common sunflower, late summer. Assuming he's like his cousin, the American goldfinch, this acrobatic little bird eats seeds exclusively, and mainly from the sunflower family. His little fledgling just flew off after badgering Dad for more seeds. Breeding timing for these guys is all important-- they have to hold off until late summer when the flowers have mostly gone to seed. That is, if they are going to have a prayer of living up to the the huge expectations of their insistent offspring. Do I sound like the parent of a teenager?



Part 5 in Timing is Everything series... Rocky Mountain beeplant stamens seem to reach for the July clouds, praying for moisture. Seems this plant times its growth and flowering to coincide with the summer monsoon rains. Maybe in answer to a prayer the bees sent forth as the last of the spring flowers dried up and left the scene.

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Part 6- Timing... Here is our latest blog post.

It's about time...

I never have gotten in the habit of wearing a watch. Not just because of the way it feels, probably more because it is a constant reminder of time speeding along, and obligations past due. But stepping back from my own anxieties, the more I look around, the more I see that time is the critical fourth dimension in Nature. It is the composer and choreographer of the intricate dance that’s going on, enabling just enough Sphinx moths to escape their predators and pass on their genes. Timing is the difference between a lightening strike igniting a huge blaze, or fizzling out. It is the key to ensuring the next generation of goldfinch nestlings reaches maturity. And it allows both bee plants and bees to take advantage of a regional weather pattern. Having written this, I’m starting to realize maybe it’s less about time and more about timing.


So today, I’m going up to the mountains, confident there will be mushrooms, because last week it rained. Even though my timing has never been that great, I feel like I’m finally figuring out the rhythm to this dance.


#moths, #insects, #Nature, #naturelessons, #timing, #phenology, #naturalists, #dryfuels, #wildfire, #cottonwoods, #birds, #yourlandexplained, #lessergoldfinch, #wildflowers, #beeplant, #mushrooms, #monsoons

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