Journal for August 14, 2009

More gorgeous weather at the farm, and more prairie and insect pictures.

Mist in Center Valley

Center Valley

My Promethea Moth caterpillars are growing -it’s the first time I’ve raised them so I’m taking lots of pictures and watching carefully.  They don’t do as well as the Cecropias and Polyphemus that I’m used to raising.  More have died – no obvious reason – they just fall to the bottom and dry up.  But I still have about 20 healthy ones.  The one at the upper left has just shed it’s old skin. These are 2nd and 3rd instar larvae (Instars are the stages between shedding their skins).

Callosamia promethea caterpillars

I saw my first Giant Swallowtails and Red Admirals this week.  Usually I see these species beginning much earlier in the summer, but I think the cool Canadian weather has been keeping them from coming so far north.

Giant Swallowtail – It looks like a bird took a bite out of him.

Papilio crestophantes

I found a plant in our planted wetland that normally doesn’t grow around here – it’s native farther south in Wisconsin – the seed must have been mixed in with some other seeds I bought.  It has odd, spiky flowers, and is called Rattlesnake Master.  People often plant it in prairies, even farther north than its natural range.  It seems perfectly happy in Pine Point Prairie.

Eryngium yuccifolium

Rattlesnake Master flower head

Eryngium yuccifolium

Here are a few more views of Pine Point Prairie – it’s looking good this year.

Pine Point Prairie

Pine Point Prairie

Pine Point Prairie

Our friend Rob, who owns land nearby, discovered a non-native, invasive orchid growing in his woods.  It’s called Helleborine Orchid, and has become a problem in forests in the eastern U.S.  Up until now it had only been found in the far eastern part of Wisconsin.  A DNR botanist that I talked to said that it doesn’t seem to cause big problems in Wisconsin – it grows here, but doesn’t seem to choke out natives. I went over to Rob’s place, pulled it out – there seemed to be only one plant – and pressed it for the Stevens Point herbarium.

Helleborine Orchid

Epipactis helleborine

Close-up of the flower

Epipactis helleborine

I found one Cylindrical Blazing Star blooming in the prairie next to the house.  This species grows in many of the bluff prairies nearby, but I’ve never found it on our remnants.  I’ve collected seeds and scattered them in sandy areas of our planted prairies – this is the first time I’ve seen it growing.

Liatris cylindracea

Here are a few more butterflies from this week

Cabbage White – I haven’t seen many this year

Pieris rapae

Meadow Fritillaries

Boloria bellona

Silver-bordered Fritillary

Boloria selene

Eastern Tiger Swallowails

Papilio glaucus

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Papilio glaucus

We’ve had a few beautiful misty mornings.


More spiderwebs in the mist

Mist in the valley

I figured out a simple way to attract moths at night – I turn my lamp so it shines out the window above the deck.  Then I go outside and watch for interesting species.  This was my best find – A Showy Emerald.

Dichorda iridaria

Another view

Dichorda iridaria

I also saw two Lichen moths this week – one on Indian Grass Point during the day, and one at night at my light.  The caterpillars of both species eat lichens and mosses on tree bark.

Scarlet-winged Lichen Moth crawling on the ground.

Hypoprepia miniata

Painted Lichen Moth

Hypoprepia fucosa

I also found one more non-native county record – Water Chickweed.  Another plant that doesn’t seem to cause problems – it grows in wet places.

Stellaria aquatica

This is a beautiful native vine – Wild Clematis.  It’s great in native landscapes, but becomes much too aggressive in gardens.  I planted some in our garden in St. Paul, and it eventually took over most of the yard.

Clematis virginiana

Here’s a Scorpionfly.  It’s curled abdomen makes it resemble a scorpion, but it doesn’t sting.

Panorpa sp.

And here are a few prairie pictures – in full August bloom.

Western Prairie

Western Prairie

And a tiny feather that I found on the driveway