Wildlife and the swimming pool

Each summer for a little more than two months, I go every day to run laps for an hour in the city pool at the end of my street in Manhattan. The pool is almost-olympic-sized, close to the East River, and surrounded by trees. We are not allowed to take electronics onto the pool deck, otherwise I would record more insect observations from there.

A lot of insects fall into the pool or are knocked into the pool, and most of them drown. But I discovered accidentally that some of the larger-bodied insects can recover and "come back to life" if they are fished out of the pool and left in the sun to dry out for 10 or 15 minutes.

Until today, my only iNaturalist record from the pool water was a male horntail, which I carried home in my pool shoe, so I could photograph it. Today there was a large, mostly black wasp in the pool with iridescent blue-black wings (kindly ID'ed a few hours later by @mdwarriner as the Blue-winged Wasp). I brought the wasp home in a drink container so I could take some (not very good) photos of it before releasing it.

I try to rescue all the wildlife that I find in the pool.

Here is a casual list of animals that I have found in that pool over the last 10 years:

Blue-winged Wasp - three times this summer
Chinese mantis - once, about 7 years ago
Horntail - once, this summer
Honey bees
Green June beetle - once, this summer
Small yellowish, dappled scarab-type beetles which fall from the London Plane trees [Oriental Beetles]
Lady beetles
Katydid - twice, once this summer
Dragonfly - once
Damsel fly - once
Moth caterpillars, which fall in from the London Plane trees
Numerous small flies -- they don't survive
Large cockroach - once

And last but not least:

A juvenile rat -- once

Dragonflies fly low over the pool very often, but most of them don't touch the surface and don't drown.

Posted by susanhewitt susanhewitt, August 17, 2016 13:32

Observations

Photos / Sounds

What

Pigeon Tremex Horntail Tremex columba

Observer

susanhewitt

Date

August 1, 2016 03:43 PM EDT

Description

I found it, apparently drowned, on the surface of the public swimming pool. About 20 minutes after I put it out on the concrete, it dried out, and came back to life.

The 5th image is the most in-focus.

Tags

Photos / Sounds

What

Two-spotted Scoliid Wasp Scolia dubia ssp. dubia

Observer

susanhewitt

Date

August 17, 2016 01:28 PM EDT

Description

Found floating in the water in John Jay Pool at 11:30 am.

Tags

Comments

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A one-woman rescue squad -- I love it! Even for wet scrawny rats....

Posted by muir over 4 years ago (Flag)
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Thanks Matt. :) Yes, I have saved the life of quite a lot of small critters.

On Nevis once, at a hotel up the mountain, I jumped in the pool to save the life of a juvenile goat that the resident dog had chased into the swimming pool. The dog had jumped in too, and and seemed determine to drown the goat, as each time the goat came up for air the dog would knock it back under again.

The Buddhists believe that when you save the life of animals, it helps extend the length of your own life, getting it closer to its theoretical maximum in your individual case, which of course depends on your overall karma.

Posted by susanhewitt over 4 years ago (Flag)
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"The Buddhists believe that when you save the life of animals, it helps extend the length of your own life, getting it closer to its theoretical maximum in your individual case, which of course depends on your overall karma." This introduces a non-altruistic logic for saving Chinese mantids and cockroaches! Well, in addition to the value that cleaning the pool brings....

Posted by muir over 4 years ago (Flag)
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Well, the overall idea is to do what is necessary in order to develop more compassion, rather than being motivated for selfish reasons, but yes.

It feels really good to save a life, even a small one. And us white people are an invasive species too, like the Chinese mantid and the cockroach. :)

I do also pick as many dead leaves as I can out of the pool, in order to help keep it clean. I know all the staff who work there, including those who look after the pool chemistry.

Posted by susanhewitt over 4 years ago (Flag)
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Sorry, I'm just giving you a hard time. I need a bad-Matt-humor emoticon. I have the same instincts! My most recent rescues is saving a wasp from the toddler pool (which I did take photos of, but on someone else's phone. Need to remember to retrieve those so I can post...) and this darner from a stream, who looked like she had a rough start to life: http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/3885217

Posted by muir over 4 years ago (Flag)
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That's OK, I don't mind wisecracks. And good for you Matt, that you like to save some insect lives. That poor darner you saved might end up as a snack for a larger animal, but at least she got to live a little longer.
As you will see, I added an image of a big, mostly black wasp that was in the pool this morning, after I had written this post. I will have to start taking a plastic petri dish with me to the pool.

Posted by susanhewitt over 4 years ago (Flag)
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BTW... the young rat I helped out of the pool, and it ran off, none the worse for wear.

Posted by susanhewitt over 2 years ago (Flag)
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I love your pool insect count! We have an above ground pool and I'm always fishing bees out if it, and scarab beetles, and willow leaf beetles, etc. My husband puts a liner in the skimmer basket for the pump, which I empty and rinse out for him, and there are nearly always beetles in it. One time there was a backswimmer in the pool, and once a huge toebiter (I used the skimmer net for that). Often when we open the pool in the spring there will be water striders and mosquito larvae (depending on how late in the season we are). Some winters ducks have stopped by the closed pool, and this winter only we had three separate drowned squirrels. I have not idea why now and never before.

Posted by srall over 2 years ago (Flag)
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Very interesting! I am impressed by the toebiter!

Posted by susanhewitt over 2 years ago (Flag)

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