• a mutually agreeable relationship •

In the Amazon rain forest there is a living tree; within its bark lives a parasitic plant which needs no sun – it draws its nourishment from its host, and is not visible, or even evident, but for a short time, once a year, when thousands of tiny yellow ball-shaped ‘flowers’ appear on the trunk of the host tree. On the nights when the yellow ‘buds’ are flourishing, tiny caterpillars come and eat the tasty buds. Each caterpillar has an accompanying ant who, when she gently taps on the caterpillar’s back with her antennae, the caterpillar produces a drop of sweet elixir, which the ant slurps greedily. They have a mutually agreeable relationship. The caterpillar, in turn, derives protection from predators, and the ant, a veritable moveable feast.
And then, betimes, along comes a butterfly. It’s wings are gray, but for a single brightly colored yellow ‘dot’, toward the back – a convincing ‘match’ to the yellow ‘flowers’ on the tree: as ‘camouflage’, apparently.
An entire ecosystem, within one tree. That’s what I learned, yesterday.
Oh, and, one other thing: if you are walking your dogs with the girl, and you see a big bug in her hair, politely pick the bug out before she knows what you are about, rather than pointing and shouting, “Bug! Bug!! BUG!!” (Three times fast.)
Yes, I learned that, too, alas.
~ Tim Burchfield
5/17/17

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