Six and Eight Legs, An Annotated Pictory

Martha’s Vineyard is rich in six and eight legged life forms. We are lucky to have, in our hundred square miles of the planet, a relatively unspoiled and unpolluted place for insects to thrive. They come in many sizes and colors, from the teensy…

Close inspection reveals life inside the dandelion

to the very hairy, and very cute.

Wolf spider. They love to hang out on shingled houses, as all those cracks make for lots of places to lurk

Here is wolfie’s cousin, waiting for a meal on the trumpet of a pale daffodil.

Butterflies and moths are plentiful.

Newly emerged, this spicebush swallowtail is enjoying a first meal in the May pea patch.

One of the moth crown jewels of the island is the imperial moth. These beautiful creatures are extremely rare in mainland Massachusetts. Look for them in June and July.

July 13th Imperial Moth

Here is the brown phase imperial mother caterpillar…

We will briefly, and reluctantly, acknowledge the tick, which has eight legs. Except when it’s a newly-hatched tick. Did you know that in its first stages of life, a tick has only six legs, and “grows another pair” as it gets older?

This one was hanging out on a beach path.

For the last few years I have participated in a project whose aim is to inventory the bees present on this modest island. Helping with that work has been a pleasure. Below is an emerald bee. What a jewel.

To date, the study has found 167 species of bees.

Bumblebee in hollyhock. Pollen City.

If you expand the search area to the rest of the offshore islands, there are 190 species. My friend Dr. Paul Goldstein, the main man for the bee study, reports that West Tisbury has the highest recorded bee species diversity on the island, at 120, followed by Edgartown with 100, Aquinnah with 100, Chilmark 66, Oak Bluffs 44, and with VH 42 . The good scientist reminds us that these “results” are artifacts of where we did most of the work. More looking in the “other” towns would increase their diversity counts.



The final image of this annotated pictory is of an iridescent beauty that flew in and landed on our picnic table, one early August afternoon.

I'm pretty sure this is a rainbow scarab beetle.

7 responses to “Six and Eight Legs, An Annotated Pictory

    • Malou…Thanks for the compliment. Your photos are mighty nice too. I enjoyed going through the “rain” series. I have not been to Northern Europe since 1973.
      Tom Hodgson

  1. I found a imperial mothers calipilar at its young stages with 6 legs. It’s beautiful. I just found it yesterday in Maryland.

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