City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

November 1, 2016

November 1st

Filed under: Bald-Faced Hornets, Gambel's Oak, People, Picnic site 9 — canopus56 @ 10:46 pm

Will the Bald-Faced Wasps Return Next Year?

4:00 p.m. Back on October 24th, a couple, one in their fifties, is at the picnic site 9. The nest of the Bald-Faced wasps (Sept. 27th) is easily visible from the road, since the Gambel’s oak leaves have fallen. They have assembled a pile of rocks and for entertainment, they are using the nest for target practice. The nest has deteriorated in the rain and cold over the last three weeks. It outer layers have begun peeling off, and having no worker residents, it is not being repaired. I check back later, the couple found a two foot stick, and managed to hit the nest with it. The nest is still on the tree, but it is ruptured. It has been sufficiently cold that the workers and males in the nest have died. As a last gesture before dying, males impregnate the queen, who will take to the leaf litter and hibernate over the winter. Hopefully, she has already left or is still safe within the nest, waiting for a signal from the first snow. If not, there may be no bald-faced wasps in the canyon come summer. On October 29th, there is young man illegally practicing target shooting at picnic site 1. Hopefully, there are no squirrels about which are about the size of the cans that he is shooting at.

While these are insignificant events, they are also a metaphor for the larger global issues facing nature. Currently, there are about 7.4 billion people alive on the Earth, and when I was born in the 1950s, there were about 2.8 billion. If one out of every 7,500 of those 7.5B people do an unthinking act each day like the one above, how can nature heal from one million such cuts each day? While we often look to industry as a cause of nature’s decline, another significant contributor is the collective, unintended result of our individual actions. This illustrates the need to not act unthinkingly in our daily lives and to act consciously and with intent. Also on October 24th, the World Wildlife Federation and the Zoological Society of London released an advocacy report estimating that since 1970, the population of wildlife on the Earth has declined by fifty-eight percent.

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