No choice but to go green

pollen staining local pondOr, kinda chartreuse.

It is that season here in NC, when the wretched longneedle pines are shamelessly engaging in an arboristic orgy. Dissatisfied as they are with the rather gauche and needy technique of relying on pollinators like bees and butterflies, pines instead fling their emissions wantonly throughout the air, firmly believing in the concept of quantity over quality. If you fire enough rounds, one of them has to hit something.

The result is as you see here: pine pollen staining everything for the next couple of weeks. Cars are covered with it. Puddles have a yellowish-green patina to them. As I walked around this pond this morning looking for photo subjects, I got enough pollen on my feet that I was raising little puffs of pollen dust with every step. Last night, while out looking for photo subjects (we see a pattern developing here,) I could see the stuff blowing past in the beam of the headlamp – yes, the amount that is breathed in must be disturbing. I think the thunderstorms from the previous posts, rather than washing the stuff away, either sparked the trees to release more, or perhaps caused the pollen to be suspended in the atmosphere better by static charge. Whatever – the effect has been hard to ignore.

pine pollen swirls on water surface
Mostly, it’s this yellow-green color, but occasionally (as seen in the first pic) it gets stained a rust color – perhaps by mixing with red clay erosion during the rain. It certainly has the appearance of some kind of toxic waste. Notably, however, it is not the stuff responsible for the allergy woes in the majority of people; pine pollen is very low on the list of things that provoke histamine responses. Many people assume it’s the culprit from simple association: I can see the pollen, and I’m having an allergic reaction, ipso ergo facto. But a lot of other things are in bloom at the same time, most of which aren’t even one percent as visible as pine. While it remains possible to react to pine pollen, it’s rare.

Let’s put it this way: considering the visible sheen that appears on the table on the screened porch only a few hours after cleaning it off, if anyone was allergic to it, the amount in the air right now would probably cause them to explode…

water beetle leaving track in pine pollen on surface of pondThe fast-moving water beetles produce some great tracks in it, though, and it’s a nice way to study turbulence. I have yet to snag an image of a frog or snake that has surfaced from underneath it, but I’m still looking.

water beetle pausing in pollen coating
Here’s the same kind of beetle, likely some species of Hydrophilidae, that has paused after stirring up the coating, admiring its own surreal handiwork. Or maybe I’m assuming a bit much there.

But when I say it gets all over everything, I’m not exaggerating at all.

unknown inchworm species on azalea bush with dusting of pine pollen
There are a lot more pine trees surrounding us here than there were at the old place, and the effect is noticeable, even though I was still seeing it on the mantis nymphs last year, before the move. It’s not quite microscopic, though it’s close.

wolf spider with dusting of pine pollen
Everything. If some species ever evolves to eat the stuff, they gonna take over North Carolina…

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