Friday, May 11, 2007

Singing the Blues

Sometimes you run into something that just totally bends your mind--your whole sense of reality and perception is set on its ear. You observe something that



and there is no rational explanation and yet you can't deny the reality of what you are seeing.

In this case, even the camera agrees that I'm seeing what I'm seeing. Do you see it?

Here is a photo of a BLUE--as in, the hue of a piece of lapis lazuli--sow bug/pill bug/roly-poly/land isopod/whatever you call them. The belly is a slightly lighter shadeof blue. It seems perfectly normal in all respects. There is a normal one at the 3:00 position in the jar, to compare the color. This intensely, unnaturally blue creature was under a rock in the front yard with a few hundred perfectly normal gray roly-polies today. Hopefully I'll have time to get it to the University of Kansas Entomology Department soon, and see what they have to say about it.
Every so often, when I'm feeling discouraged about the odds of me being able to keep this land safe from development, I fantasize about finding an endangered species. I'm guessing this isn't an actual different species, but it certainly is an interesting mutation or phenomenon of some sort.
You know, white would make sense to me. So would black or brown. Or even yellowish or reddish. But not this intense, artificial-looking blue!

1 comment:

Natalya said...

Update on the blue pill roly poly: My nephew (who came of age in the internet era, unlike me) had the brilliant idea of doing a Google search on "blue pill bug". We discovered that these blue pill bugs (whom others describe as "lapis lazuli beads) are infected with a virus that turns them blue before they die.

My mother, who is plagued by them in her greenhouse, has suggested that I search them out for her to culture the virus so she cantry it as a biological control in her greenhouse. Dad pointed out the benefit of it being obvious when they are infected. An interesting idea.

But I have ethical qualms about deliberately spreading any disease of any of God's creatures. We know so little of the complex relationships between the small, non-fuzzy inhabitants of our planet, especially those that work in our soils. In more than 45 years of turning over rocks and rotten logs, I have never seen these sick pill bugs before, and I wonder if this is a sign of environmental collapse, just like the Colocy Collapse Syndrome that is decimating honeybee populations. So my delight in their blueness is tempered by concern for these humble, hardworking members of the Community of Life on Pinwheel Farm.