Red-Tooth & Claw

Pseudacris regilla (aka Pacific treefrog)

A superb day on the front lawn. I’d awoken from a short nap on the grass to resume my place in the wicker chair, which is when I felt the first tickle of something at my elbow, and who should it be? Why, Pseudacris regilla! He meant me no harm, of course, merely got sidetracked during his search for shade, and in the ideal a modest puddle of water therein to moisten and cool his suction cup toes. At night there is this amazing chorus of what must be thousands of frogs at the nearby pond, and I wonder if it’s not the grownups of this same species. HW said she’s seen a plague-like number of these guys, even smaller ones, in migration across the lawn to who knows where. Probably that pond. I’ve even spotted one or two in the garage. You’d think catching one to give it its freedom would be simple, and you’d be wrong.

Erythemis collocata (aka Dragonfly)
Dryocopus pileatus (aka Pileated woodpecker)

Last week as our house guest sat in that same chair, Erythemis collocata came to rest on her shoulder. Did you know Dragonflies are expert hunters of mosquitos? Which may in part explain the near absence of said pests here. I was curious to know more, e.g. was this bug more often a winner or loser in the game of life, so I dialed up on my phone (Google’s implementation of an AI chat bot), uploaded this photo and submitted it along with the following prompt

Is the insect in the photo more often prey or predator?

This is what Bard responded with, verbatim

The insect in the photo is more often a predator. Dragonflies are predators, and they eat other insects. They are fast and agile fliers, and they have sharp jaws that they use to catch their prey. The white cloth in the photo is not a natural habitat for dragonflies, so it is likely that the dragonfly was sitting there after catching its prey.

However, it is possible that the dragonfly is not a predator in this case. If the dragonfly is a captive insect, it may have been placed on the white cloth by its owner. In this case, the dragonfly would not be a predator, but rather a pet.

Without more information, it is impossible to say for sure whether the dragonfly in the photo is a predator or not. However, the fact that it is sitting on a white cloth, which is not a natural habitat for dragonflies, suggests that it is more likely a predator.

OK, so most days your average Dragonfly is killing it, ridding the environment of pests, some of which pester us (humans), thus making our co-existence on this planet a textbook example of Mutualism – in a single act of predation the Dragonfly enjoys a snack and we’ve one less bloodsucker to swat.

Other times, it can go very badly for our Dragonfly

Oh, I almost forgot, the woodpecker! I’ve never in all my life seen a ‘pecker that large (no giggling). Right outside my office window, which is why the photo’s a tad blurry, I snapped it though glass. Probably a boy because if you zoom in enough you can barely see the red feathers on the cheek beneath the eye, the mark of a male woodpecker. He was pokin’ and probin’ at a hole in that abandoned cedar trunk, where on other days I’ve seen giant slugs emerge from.