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BIG Water Bug

Posted Jun 15 2011 7:50pm
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia is often referred to as the City of Lakes. It has lots of them. Little ones, big ones, you name it, turn a corner and there’s another lake. This means there’s lots of really cool wildlife to check out any time you go for a walk or a bike ride in Dartmouth.

Yesterday I decided to take my bike around Spectacle Lake which just happens to be in an industrial park. There had already been a bit of a trail laid down and some boardwalk over the wetter areas, but when I returned yesterday, I discovered that a little more has been developed.

I came across an excellent example of a constructed wetland. Natural wetlands are biofilters, helping to remove pollutants from water. A constructed wetland works in much the same way, as a natural filter of runoff water, storm drain discharge and a block to pollutants and garbage. On the top side of the trail is a rock hill,

on the bottom side of the trail is the constructed wetland with layers of rock, sand, and grasses and rushes. As well, bales of hay and a black “geotextile” (looks like a black tarp) are placed closer to the bottom of the wetland to catch bigger items and keep them from getting into the body of water the wetland is protecting. Very nice.

Also on the trails through the park I came across a vigilant mama or papa osprey, the province’s official bird.

At this time of year, I’m on the lookout for trilliums and lady slippers. The trilliums are almost done, but the lady slippers are in full bloom and as an added bonus I came across a thick patch of pitcher plants. These are carnivorous plants that trap insects in their pitchers in order to boost their nutrient intake. Creepy but cool. While I was taking pictures of these flowers, movement caught my attention. There appeared to be a leaf moving on the surface of the water. Closer inspection revealed it to actually be a giant water bug! What a find! And it was huge, at least 4 inches long. I got a few good pictures of it and desperately wanted to take it home to put under the microscope to get a closer look, but with what would I catch the thing? I hadn’t taken my bug kit on the bike with me (it has everything I need to catch and safely hold bugs) and I didn’t dare try to pick the thing up with my bare hands. These guys bite and they bite hard. So there I am, lying on my tummy on the boardwalk, with my hand alternately reaching out then withdrawing as I debated my chances of catching this thing and getting it into my jacket pocket without getting bitten. Oy, what a dilemma. Over my shoulder, about 100 yards away is a construction crew working on the new RCMP regional headquarters and I know there’s a guy in the crane watching me and probably wondering what the heck I’m doing. I’m also thinking to myself that this bug could bite through my jacket into my side and I don’t want that to happen while I bike back to the car. So I left it. Yeah, I have to admit, this thing scared me a little bit. But I took pictures.

Interestingly enough, some water bugs carry around the eggs on their backs until they hatch. They’re good dads. My dad used to carry me around on his back until I hatched, too…..Happy Father's Day!

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