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Symbiotic Relationships
August 05, 2013

The sun now sets before 9:00 here in SW Michigan

We've lost a good 30 minutes of sun just on the evening side, since the summer solstice.

It is a sad moment for me, as I look forward to longer days of Spring.

A person can really tell the difference on where the sun is in the sky these days.

Even though it is summer, it beats on you from a different angle.

At least in northern latitudes.

Temperatures remain a few to several degrees below average here in Michigan.

It has its advantages.

We save on the electric bill, as the AC gets a good rest.

Nights have been great for sleeping.

I can sit outside, or pull a weed without working up a sweat.

With the cooler than average temperatures, I am able to sit here with the windows open.

I can hear what is going on outside.

Within two feet, to several feet from the window, is a nice patch of Tall Garden Phlox.

If you grow phlox, you know they put out a soft, yet sweet smell.

With several cultivars blooming right now, I am getting a pleasant whiff of Garden Phlox as I work on this letter.

I can smell the outside.

You may know by now, that I enjoy traveling the byways when Karen and I go on our little trips.

A person never knows what treasure they may come across.

I've mention to you how I enjoy taking pictures of old and deserted homes.

This time we came across a veritable treasure trove of photo opportunities.

All in one location :-)

An old and falling apart house.

The old barn is is better condition.

Some old and rusting cars from the 50's and 60's

(check out the 60 something Chevy wagon, and notice the upper left corner for more cars.)

A real find was the stable of old Milk Trucks.

Borden's, who remembers that blast from the past?

It is a shame to see them falling to rust and old age.

(Back of House.)

We turned the page on the calender a few days ago.

August, can you hardly stand it?

We are into august already.

Fireflies are but a few now.

Japanese Beetles were never an issue for me this year, but should be winding down as well.

Other insects are now in force.

What I notice most (from the insect world) this time of year is the night life.

Crickets, Katydids, and other nighttime music makers.

A whole different orchestra to enjoy.

Don't forget to clean your feeders and water sources if you haven't done so.

(Back side of barn)

While most birds have finished or are finishing up nesting duties (the yard is full of fledglings and juveniles)

American Goldfinches are kicking into full gear.

I have some youngsters right now, but they will be in full force later this month and into September.

I have Hummingbirds.

All sorts of hummers.

I figured once the flowers kicked into full gear that i would see more of the tiny birds.

That and fledglings make the yard more entertaining.

I even saw a hummingbird moth.

Sad to say, still nothing much in the way of butterflies.

Bumble bees and other bees sightings are way down too.

Vegetable crops show the lack of pollinators.

Last week I asked you for some help, or a little homework from you.

A few of you did reply.

The question was on Symbiosis and Symbiotic Relationships.

Symbiosis is a relationship between two different species of life, where both directly benefit from the other.

Everyone is familiar with flowers and pollinators.

The flower feeds the pollinators, in return the flowers reproduce seed, fruits and nuts that keep the species alive and regenerated.


Jackie from the Pacific Northwest (British Columbia I think).

Symbiotic relationships between species are so universal they must be intrinsic to life. Just the thought of them brings a warm feeling to me.

I guess the ones that immediately come to mind are ants and aphids, clown fish and anemones and those birds that clean off the ticks of large grazers.

I recall that ants provide protection in exchange for the aphids' honeydew. It's obvious what the exchange is between the birds and the wildebeest: a tasty meal for pest control. Clownfish and Anemone, the bright colors of clownfish attract predators; the anemone provides shelter for the clownfish

What seems important to me is the exchange of services, the give and take, the co-existence which benefits both. A good lesson here.

Thank You Jackie.

Oxpeckers and rhinoceroses

You recall well, I did indeed write on ants and aphids.

Jackie and I have had some deep E-conversations in the past, she is well versed in many topics and I enjoy sharing with her.

Jan Tosses this quick one in the mix.

Cleaner wrasse fish and various coral reef fish. The larger fish and eels get parasites cleaned off of them, and the wrasse get food via the parasites.

Thanks Jan, it is a win, win situation for all parties involved.

Food, cleanliness and protection.

Nature does amaze us.

Penny has this to say on the topic.

Your remarks on symbiosis got me thinking about our hens. They eat the grass, weeds and insects in the yard. In turn, their droppings attract more insects and help fertilize the grass and weeds. I feed them an organic layer feed and they reward me with rich, flavorful eggs.

I should go on to say that when their laying days are over, they will provide me with meat, however, that won't happen! They will continue to provide me with laughs and lots of affection.

Thank you Penny.

A couple of examples from the same cycle.

Good job and keep thinking.

Commensalism, may be looked at as Symbiosis, but isn't.

One of the organisms benefits (it receives something it needs.)

The other organism does not benefit, but neither is it harmed.

An example of commensalism is the relationship between bison and cowbirds.

Cowbirds are insectivores.

As bison wander through the grasslands feeding, they stir up insects.

Cowbirds follow the bison, eating insects that are stirred up.

In this relationship, the cowbird benefits

The bison does not benefit, but it is not harmed either by the cowbird eating insects.

Fun Fact:

Cowbirds were originally called Buffalo birds by early trail herders and cowboys.

Once bison were eliminated, cowbirds adapted to following herds of cattle, hence their name.

Another example of commensalism is the

relationship between the Cactus Wren and Cholla Cacti.

Cactus wrens often build their nests in Cholla cacti.

The spines of the cactus help protect the nest from predators.

In this symbiotic relationship, the Cactus wren receives something it needs - nest protection.

The Cholla Cactus does not benefit and it is not harmed by the nesting cactus wrens.


In parasitism, one organism feeds off another.

The parasite is the organism that gets fed.

The host is the organism that is fed upon.

The parasite benefits, but the host is harmed in this relationship.

Cowbirds make this list too.

You can come up with a long list of Parasites.

Fleas and ticks.

Powdery and downy mildew on your plants.

Anything where one species benefits, but the other is harmed.

Okay, here is my list of Symbiotic relationships.

I'll keep it short.

Lichen is one amazing organism.

Probably Symbiosis at its best.

You take some algae and some fungus.

They manage to find each other and a love affair like no other is formed.

The algae provides moisture (all life needs water) and the fungus provides the food.

One can't live without the other for any length of time, so they get together and for 'Lichen'.

There are different kinds and colors of lichen. some are based on the habitat and surroundings.

Lichen will attach to just about any object trees, buildings, rocks, sidewalks, dead or alive, tropical or desert.

Remove one, and the other dies too.

A certain species of this type of crab is sometimes involved in a symbiotic relationship with a sea anemone, where the sea anemone is attached to the crab's shell. Which type of crab is involved here? hermit crab.

In this relationship, the sea anemone receives food and gets transported by the hermit crab, and the sea anemone, with its stinging tentacles, protects the hermit crab.

A certain small African bird called the Honeyguide and the Honey-badger are involved in a unique type of symbiotic relationship.

The Honeyguide fans its tail and makes a special call to lead the Honey-badger to the bees-nest.

After it has led it to the nest, the honey-badger rips the nest apart, and eats the honey and bee-larvae present inside.

It is protected from the stings of the bees by its thick skin.

Once it has eaten its fill, the Honeyguide comes for its share of the treat.

What does the Honeyguide bird eat?

The bird enjoys the leftovers from the Badger, destroyed hive.

Odd Relationships are a part of nature.

Here is another one.

An uncomfortable but workable symbiotic relationship is between Coyotes and American badgers.

When coyotes and badgers team up, the pairs track small, burrowing animals such as prairie dogs and ground squirrels.

When the prey is above ground, the coyote usually chases it down, and the badger takes over the hunt if the prey descends underground.

Not only do they find food together, but coyotes also have more success in this partnership than if they go it alone.

Coyotes with badger cohorts catch an estimated one-third more ground squirrels than solo coyotes

Badgers also benefit when coyotes chase prey underground.

Reluctant to come out, the badger has more success catching lunch under the surface.

Both parties benefit.

Symbiosis is everywhere.

Shelly had this to share.

Mother and child be they of human or animal, insect etc. One feeds the other. Lord was giving to us, too many of us became takers...however, it was the first actual lesson in...Creation.

Think about if folks,

Parents and children give each other love and attention.

How about your fur kids and you?

You and your gardens........................ isn't that a symbiotic relationship as well?

You feed, water, and care for your gardens.

In return, your gardens offer food, flowers, lower blood pressure, hours upon hours of joy, and maybe a bit of pride.

When I stop and take a look, isn't the 'Circle of Life' one giant circle of Symbiosis?

God is Good.

Creation, a pretty clever invention, don't you think?

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

Do you want to know what goes on in the heart of the Trinity? I will tell you. In the heart of the Trinity the Father laughs and gives birth to the Son. The Son laughs back at the Father and gives birth to the Spirit> The whole Trinity laughs and gives birth to us.

Meister Eckhart

I like that quote.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

Genesis 1:26

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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