Prospect Park, 8/3/2020

I was given a chance to redeem my honor this morning: I found another weird tiny white basket levitating in my path. Vowing to vanquish fear and re-commit myself to science, I immediately switched to my close-up lens, though I kept a weather, non-viewfinder eye on the creature itself. Today’s basket was suspended from a very slender filament of some kind, visible in a number of photos I took, though not, as it happens, in this one, which I am posting because it shows clearly another signal difference: today the little white gondola had a passenger, a gray larva. At some point during photography, I noticed that I had transitioned to standing on my tiptoes; while I had been photographing, the gray passenger had gradually winched the gondola and itself upward. At some point, upon stepping back for a perspective view, I noticed an identical larva-in-gondola suspended just a foot or so away, a little lower in the air. My working theory now is that my encounter yesterday was with an empty gondola, still trailing the thread on which it had been suspended, which was serving it as a sail, and that when the thread caught on me and my camera, I got the mistaken impression that it was coming for me. Now that I have taken a calmer look, I do not find these creatures any less creepy. With what dark purpose do they lower themselves from the trees?

Thistle, Prospect Park

Fiery skipper (male), Prospect Park