Other than the occasional insect that we see in our homes, we don’t often see or think about insects in the winter (and certainly not in January in the northern hemisphere–they are few and far between, although my “kitchen spider” that I posted about here in mid November is still hanging out behind the sink. Who would have thought?)
In fact, for most of us, that’s about all we see–the occasional house spider now and again. But unbeknownst to us, there are a world of insects out there just waiting for a warmer day or the spring thaw.
I discovered this years ago during the Great Backyard Bird Count, a wonderful event that I’ll talk about in early February so that those who might want to participate can be ready. It takes place during our President’s day weekend, which occurs this year, for purposes of the count, from February 17-20.
I was going outside to fill the feeders and it was one of our snowier winters. One of the feeders had actually blown off a tree. I don’t recall having to root around too far in the snow for it, but I do recall being in snow up over my knees as I waded out to the tree.
When I went to hang this feeder back onto the tree, I looked closely at the tree bark. Nestled in the ridges and furrows of the bark were 2 spiders and a beetle, all hunkered down and protected. The feeder, which had been hanging over them had previously protected them not only from the elements but from most birds as well since it’s a well known fact that woodpeckers, having only 3 toes, can only move in one direction on a tree–sort of backwards down the tree, tail first.
Nuthatches are the only bird that can actually move headfirst down a tree and therefore can find little bits of nut that have been cached there, as well as any insects that various woodpeckers miss. It’s kind of an efficient system for the birds–not so much for the insects.
Needless to say, I’m sure the spiders and beetle were grateful that I got the feeder back onto the tree!