Journal for September 8, 2005

I did more seed collecting this week – along the roadsides and in some farm fields that have good wetland seeds. I got permission to collect on one hillside that has lots of Round-headed Bush-clover. As I was cutting the seed heads off, I noticed ants on the tops of some of the plants. The ants were protecting Eastern-tailed Blue caterpillars.
Here’s one of the caterpillars – it’s very tiny – less than 1/2 inch long – and very well camouflaged.

The caterpillars eat the buds and seeds of Bush-clover and other legumes. They produce a sweet substance on their skins that the ants feed on, and in turn, the ants protect the caterpillars from predators.

Round-headed Bush-clover has pretty, but very small, pink and white flowers.

And besides the caterpillars and the ants, there were tiny spiders hidden between the flowers.

The sunflowers are blooming now. Here’s Jerusalem Artichoke, Helianthus tuberosus. Its roots are supposed to be large and edible but I’ve never tasted them.

And Tall Sunflower – Helianthus giganteus. This one grows in wet places.

I’m still watching for interesting fungi. Here’s a puffball with lots of tiny
Yellow fungi.

Here’s a close up of the yellow fungi.

The monarchs are still migrating. They’re particularly attracted to Blazing Star and Stiff Goldenrod, which are in full bloom.

I’ve been hoping to find a Monarch roost – a place near a good nectaring spot where a group of Monarchs rests for the night. We checked Hidden Oaks Meadow and the Knife Edge Prairie in the evening, but we only found single Monarchs resting in the trees.