Journal for July 26, 2015

This is the busiest time of the summer here – lots of visitors, and the peak of summer flowering in the prairies.

Monarda and Oxeye in Buffalo Ridge Prairie

monarda and oxeye


We did our annual Butterfly Count on July 9th.  We didn’t see as many individual butterflies as usual, but we beat our record for the number of species.   The old record was 39; this time we saw 41 species.

Here’s the count crew

butterfly count bench photo

And the link to our numbers.

The best part for me was seeing a new species for the farm – a Hickory Hairstreak.  It’s a terrible photo – it only stayed still for one far away shot.   But Mike Reese was able to confirm the ID.  Now I need to find some more.

Hickory Hairstreak 7-9-15

The other fun experience was finding dozens – we estimated 50, but there may have been more – Banded Hairstreaks zipping around a couple of oak trees in one of our restored savannas.  I’d never seen so many before.  They were chasing each other over and under and around the leaves.  We could see active fluttering groups of them all around the branches, far up into the trees.

Another great visit was with Charley Eiseman and Julia Blyth.  Charley is working on a book on leaf mines, and this was part of a trip they took around the country to collect some.

Here they are on one of our benches.

2015-7-17 Charley Julia

Leaf mines are the trails that some insects leave by eating in the space between the top and bottom surface of a leaf.  Mines are made by the larvae of certain species of flies, moths, beetles and sawflies.

This mine is in a White Snakeroot leaf.  (Charley says that the mine is probably the work of an Agromyzid fly that may be an undescribed species.)

leaf mine

It’s often possible to tell – for Charley to tell – what insect has made the mine by knowing the plant, and seeing the visual characteristics of the mine.  His book will have keys to figure out the insects.

I took them on two wandery walks through our woods and up to two of the bluff prairies.  They found lots of leaf mines – I hope some will be new for their collection, and maybe even entirely new species.

Charley, searching Indian Grass Point






Last week we held our annual Moth Party, to celebrate National Moth Week.  The forecast was for possible thunderstorms but they never materialized , and the weather turned out to be perfect for both people and moths.

I took one group on a hike up the hill, to see one of the bluff prairie remnants, and some of the planted prairies.

Ethan, Laen, Me, Joe and Liz – in the blazing afternoon sun

2015-7-18 Evan Laen Marcie Joe Liz

We saw 70 species of moths.   Click this link for more photos of the party and all the moths we saw.

Here are two of the favorites from that night.   They had to be encouraged to show off their hind wings.

Pink Underwing

Pink Underwing


Virgin Tiger Moth

Virgin Tiger Moth


Here are some views of the prairies from the last few weeks.

Big View Prairie – the bench was so overgrown by tall prairie plants that Mike had to mow around it so we could sit on it.

big view bench


Indian Grass Point – a remnant bluff prairie

Indian Grass Point


Pat’s Prairie – one of our earliest planted prairies – planted in the winter of 2000/2001

Pat's Prairie


Western Prairie – our largest planted prairie – 60 acres.  It was planted in 3 sections from 2005 to 2007.

Western Prairie 1


Western Prairie

Western Prairie 2


We did a big solar installation at the farm that was finished about a month ago.  It’s so nice to be making our own electricity!  Here’s a link to Mike’s story about the project.

solar panels 1


And here are a few more favorite flower, moth and butterfly pictures.

Acadian Hairstreak

Acadian Hairstreak 7-9-15


Hedge Bindweed

Calystegia sepium 7-15-15 1


Showy Tick-trefoil

Desmodium canadense 7-14-15 1


Rattlesnake-Master  This plant isn’t native to this part of Wisconsin, but it came as a volunteer in some other seeds I purchased.  It’s such an interesting looking plant that I enjoy having it – and it seems to be happy here.

Eryngium yuccifolium 7-14-15


Michigan Lily

Michigan Lily


Common Milkweed



Round-leaved Monkeyflower – a plant that I just discovered growing in the stream coming from one of our springs – a new one for my list.

Mimulus glabratus - Round-leaved Monkeyflower



viceroy 1


Gray Tree Frog – checking out the moths at my lights

tree frog


Straight-lined Vaxi

Argyria critica 7-15-15 1


Epione Underwing – a new moth species for the farm

Catocala epione 7-22-15 3


Blinded Sphinx – these are fairly common at my lights at this time of year

Blinded Sphinx

The underside of a Blinded Sphinx – I’d never looked at this side before – it’s as beautiful as the upper side

Paonias excaecata 7-18-15 1


Yellow Coneflowers in Buffalo Ridge Prairie

yellow coneflower