Peek-a-boo!

 

I wasn’t expecting to see a black swallowtail caterpillar at East Texas’s Sandylands Sanctuary during a recent visit, but there it was: perhaps having a bit of a post-dinner nap on the same stem which had provided dinner.

The two-inch long creature had hidden itself nearly at ground level within a cluster of leafy plants. Had I not been attracted to the spot by some blue-eyed grass, I never would have seen it.

The slight green tint in the photos is a fair representation of how things appeared that afternoon. As the low, slanted sunlight filtered through the grasses and plants, even the air seemed green.

 

Comments always are welcome.

 

Blue, Too

While the monarch butterfly I discovered sipping nectar atop a fading blue sage was lovely, the flower itself deserves a second look. Blue sage (Salvia azurea), a tall, vibrant prairie plant, pleases the human eye as surely as it attracts pollinators.

The monarch, it seemed, wasn’t alone in being attracted to the flowers. A  bend atop a still-fresh spike of flowers revealed threads of silk attached at several points along the stem. While monarchs and fritillaries stopped and sipped at nearly every blue sage, I never saw a butterfly approach this flower-laden stalk. Perhaps they saw the silk, assumed a spider, and chose to avoid the complications they might present.

 

Comments always are welcome.

 

Summer’s For Sharing

A pair of great spangled fritillaries (Speyeria cybele) atop a yellow coneflower (Echinacea paradoxa) at Burr Oak Woods conservation area, Blue Springs, Missouri

Echinacea paradoxa, commonly known as yellow coneflower, is the only species in the genus Echinacea to have yellow flowers rather than purple, pink, or lavender: hence, the “paradox” suggested by its name. The genus name is rooted in the Greek word for hedgehog or sea-urchin, echinos; it refers to the spiny center cone which these butterflies are enjoying.

Found primarily in glades and prairies of the Ozark regions of Missouri and Arkansas, its large, daisy-like flowers bloom from June to mid-July, although flowers may appear throughout the summer. This eager little bloom had appeared by May 27, which no doubt delighted the butterflies.

 

Comments always are welcome.