Journal for October 10, 2007

Ladybug and Box Elder Bug time is here again. Every fall the box elder bugs spend a month or so on the sunny walls of our house and garage, and too many of them find their way inside the house.

The ladybugs are around for a shorter time – the worst period usually lasts 4 or 5 days. During that time there are so many bugs that there are clouds of them in the air. We haven’t quite reached that stage yet this year.

This is the opening at the top of Indian Grass Point. It gets lighter every year as we cut brush out of the surrounding areas and the aspens die.

The late fall butterflies and moths congregate on the last blooming flowers. Here are a monarch and some bees on New England Aster.

This is a small moth that I’ve seen in many places including our garden in town. It’s quite common, especially at this time of year. It’s called a Celery Looper Moth (Anagrapha falcifera). It was sharing this New England Aster with a Grasshopper.

Some of the southern butterfly species are still here, enjoying the warm fall weather. I’ve been seeing Common Checkered Skippers, Dainty Sulphurs, Common Buckeyes, and Variegated Fritillaries along our driveway.

Common Checkered Skipper

Dainty Sulphur

A Common Buckeye – the edges of its wings are frayed and worn which means that it’s been around for a while.

I found one stalk of blooming Autumn Coral Root (Corallorhiza odontorhiza) – a parasitic orchid that sends up many flowering stalks some years, and none at all in others. It has no leaves – no green color at all – and the reddish-brown flower stalk is only 6 to 8 inches high so it’s easy to overlook.

This stalk had one open flower – I’d never seen a flower actually in bloom before. The flower is about ¼ inch long. Like many orchid flowers it has a showy lower lip.

The fall colors around here aren’t as brilliant as in the northern parts of Wisconsin. The leaves of Sugar Maples make the brilliant reds and oranges that people associate with Wisconsin fall colors. There are a few Sugar Maples here – mostly on north-facing slopes. These Sugar Maples are across the road from us.

Our land has almost all south-facing slopes so we have mostly oaks, which have subtler colors and change color later in the season. We do have Red Maples that, in spite of their name, turn yellow and sometimes a pale orange-red in the fall.

Red Maple leaves

Red Maples – at least in our woods – have wide spreading branches that weave in between the branches of other trees. The colors are sprinkled in with the other colors of the woods.

Red Maple tree

Oak leaves

And there are other trees and shrubs that add to the color.

American Hazelnut (Corylus americana)

Big-toothed Aspen (Populus grandidentata)

Wild Cherry (Prunus serotina)

This is a fall view or our woods looking south from Hidden Oaks Prairie.

The view from Big View Prairie. Most of the oaks haven’t changed color yet, so the hillsides are still very green. The bright colored trees on the left side of the valley – the north-facing slopes – are Sugar Maples and Aspens. The orange and yellow trees in the foreground are White Birch.

A feather caught in a dried Partridge Pea plant.

All the rain we’ve been having has brought out mushrooms in the woods.