We’ve been driving past some nice stands of Jerusalem Artichoke – Helianthus tuberosus – in various places in Walker county over the past week or so. This morning was a nice foggy morning, so I took advantage of the soft light so, hoping to get some added interest from the dew, and headed out to a nearby patch with my camera.
It’s official – August was the driest month on record – ever – in the Chattanooga area. The grass is brown, and plants everywhere are drooping with the stress of the drought, and we appear to have lost some of the plants we’ve purchased over the past couple of years – a Rhododendron and our Teaberry plant. However, the Blue Mistflower that show up around our property seem to be thriving in spite of the lack of rain, and some of the insects on them seem pretty healthy, too.
I ran across my first-ever Mullein Foxglove last Saturday along the gravel road to the Blue Hole at Pigeon Mountain. I had made a few trips down this way, monitoring a location for a couple of orchid species I want to catch in bloom. Jay Clark and I spotted the leaves of these orchids back in March, but now there is so much understory growth I haven’t been able to relocate them. In any case, it wasn’t a wasted trip since I was able to photograph a Whiteflower Leafcup, Heal-all, Agrimony, Tall Bellflower, Browneyed Susan, Pale Indian Plantain, and the Mullein Foxglove, all before the rain sent me home.
While I was photographing the plant, this fly landed on one of the blossoms. Dr. John Hilty at illinoiswildflowers.info says that bumblebees, honeybees, miner bees, and butterflies sip the nectar of this plant. We add this fly to his list.
Click on the image to go to Flickr, where you can view a larger version.
I chased this bee around a clump of Silverleaf Phacelia (Phacelia hastata) while photographing wildflowers along the Kleinschmidt Grade in Hell’s Canyon, Adams County, Idaho on 06/19/2011.
Wednesday has been creeping up on me lately, thus the almost Thursday WingsOnWednesday post. This lovely butterfly was one of many (several different species) hanging aroung the Blue Hole at Pigeon Mountain in Walker County, GA on Memorial Day 2011.
Thanks to Twitter friend @pwtphotography for the identification as a Question Mark butterfly – Polygonia interrogationis. @echoschemes and @LeeHillerLondon also pointed me in the right direction identifying it as a member of the Polygonia genus. I hadn’t gotten any closer to thinking (correctly, at least!) it was a member of the Nymphalidae family.
Following photo added to help show the mark that is what made me decide it is a Question Mark – Polygonia interrogationis – instead of the very similar Eastern Comma – Polygonia comma.
I spent about half of last Saturday (05/21/2011) checking out the wildflowers in the Blue Hole area of Pigeon Mountain, and then a quick run down to the creek below the Civil War Wayside in the Estelle area. This butterfly was enjoying some late morning nectar. Unfortunately I don’t know either the butterfly species or the wildflower species; most likely one of the Rubus species. Any help with either would be greatly appreciated.
In case you haven’t heard, the cicadas are back. If you haven’t heard, either you don’t live in the area of their emergence, or you haven’t stepped outside recently. They are making their presence known with their loud and nearly incessant buzzing. The buzzing is done by what comes out of this shell – read on for more.
Forestry Service Road 283 provides a great drive in the mountains of northeast Georgia during the spring wildflower season. This is the second season we’ve driven this road looking for wildflowers, and were not disappointed. At one of our stops at a campsite along the road my wife spotted this moth (perhaps a Spilosoma species?) on one of dozens of Pink Ladyslippers (Cypripedium acaule) in the area.
My wife and I took a ride up Estelle Mine Road on Pigeon Mountain on this past Saturday. We wanted to go back to a spot to see a very vibrant batch of Wild Comfrey (Cynoglossum virginianum) that we had spotted the week before with only a single blossom open. Turned out to be a great drive. Not only was the Wild Comfrey fully blooming, but we saw many other wildflowers, including our first ever encounter with Yellow Honeysuckle (Lonicera flava) and the bicolored form of Bird’s Foot Violet (Viola pedata.)
My wife captured a photo of this butterfly in flight at a Wild Azalea plant. I think it was actually leaving the plant at the time, but I like it because it looks like it’s dive-bombing the azalea.
After dinner on the second night of our 2-night canoe trip down the Little Tennessee River branch of the Tellico Reservoir my eldest grandson and I took a paddle up the slough upon which our campsite was situated. As we paddled we noticed swarming insects at several spots. On the return we were paddling into the setting sun, and came around a bend to this sight. (Click on image for larger version.)
I’ve renewed my Chattanooga Nature Center membership for the first time in a long time this year – long overdue, I’d say – and have been over there a few times over the past couple of weeks. The CNC membership includes access to Reflection Riding, where there are areas in which they have allowed free roam of several fields by wild plants. In those fields many late summer wildflowers are blooming now, and probably the biggest show right now is the massive growth of Bidens aristosa – Tickseed Sunflower.
While this display is beautiful, it’s not just the human visitors who are enjoying the flowers. The number of flying insect buzzing, flitting, and darting around the blossoms is staggering. Below photos of a few of them. I don’t know my insects, so if someone has identification information, I’d really appreciate a comment or email.
Enjoy; the bugs sure did. Click on a photo for a larger image.
Based on a post by Jim McCormac over at the Ohio Birds and Biodiversity blog, I believe the insect in photo #1 is a Blue-winged Wasp – Scolia dubia.
For the rest of the photos, read the rest of the story…
Nine photographs of butterflies have been added to the USWildflowers.com insect photo album.