Behind Glade Creek Grist Mill at Babcock State Park is one of the peaceful trails in West Virginia. Tonight I want to take you on a quiet walk down the trail for a few minutes.
As I walk down the cool forest pathway I can hear the roar of the falls just around the next bend. I slow my pace a bit when I notice the clear water running through the little drainage that flows into Glade Creek in Fayette County West Virginia. A red eft lumbers fearlessly across the soft bed of moss. He knows that his bright colors are warning to would be predators that he’s a bad choice for a menu item. The eft is the juvenile form of the newt and he’s making his way to a quiet pool of water. Soon reddish orange skin will turn a cool green leaving only red spots all along the length of his body. His tail will flatten out into a powerful propulsion device that gives him mastery of the murky depths. My brother and I would catch them out of the ponds and pools and pretend that they were pet alligators. Eventually they would curl themselves backwards and expose the bright yellow belly. The first time I saw that I thought for sure that I had killed it. I tossed the newt back into the water and it came back to life and dove to the deepest part of the pond. FAKER! I called out in disbelief. Little did I know at the time that they were just daring someone to take a bite out of their toxic skin. As it turns out they were predators in their own right. Among the other things that they hunt are mosquitoe larvae. With that in mind I leave the little eft to enjoy his bed of deep green moss and continue on to the falls.
I’m not far from the sound of the water when something black and yellow zips past my head. It startled me at first. But when looked closer I discovered that I had been faked out again.
The Dogwood Borer is a type of clear wing moth that mimics Yellowjackets
What I thought was a Yellowjacket had an odd looking stinger. It also had a strangely thick waist for a member of the wasp family. It was a moth! This type of moth is a member of clear wing moth family. Biologically they’re a very interesting group of moths that are active in daylight. Horticulturally, they are problematic. The larvae of the one pictured here ( The Dogwood Borer) bore into trees and feed on the inner bark. They’re also known to carry fungal disease that can devastate valuable crop trees like pecans. I was barely able to focus one this one when took of and flew away.
It wasn’t long before I could smell the mists coming off of the falls. I stepped over to the edge of the trail and saw the silky flow framed by the leaves of the trees. The falls seem to be a collection of hundreds of tiny little cascades flowing over the rocks like a lace veil. The air surrounding the falls is oxygenated and ionized. The mists carry the scent of the stones that line the creek bed. Several types of songbirds provide the soundtrack for me as I stare through the little window of leaves and branches.
What a wondrous and beautiful world that The Lord has provided for us! And how much does He love us to make us a part of something so wonderful?
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