Journal for September 12, 2010

We’re still seeing lots of monarchs and other kinds of butterflies too.  It’s still (mostly) warm and sunny – a nice end to the summer.

We’ve seen some Monarchs flying south, but mostly we notice them nectaring on prairie flowers or gathering in the tops of trees in the evenings.

Monarchs on Showy Goldenrod

Monarchs on Stiff Goldenrod

Early morning – a Monarch resting on a tree just as the sun hits it.

Monarch in the prairie

I found one very pale orange Monarch.  Light ones are uncommon, and white ones exist but are even rarer.  White Monarchs are more common in Hawaii but rare everywhere else.

Another view of the pale Monarch

I saw almost no Eastern-tailed Blues earlier in the summer, but now, in the last week or two, there are dozens, mostly on the gravel driveway.

It’s hard to see them until they fly up in front of me – lots of fluttering blue wings.

There are still lots of Buckeyes

Here’s a Buckeye caterpillar – it’s almost as pretty as the adult.

Black Swallowtail – another butterfly that was uncommon earlier in the summer, but now they’re everywhere

Yesterday I found a Sweet Everlasting plant with a fuzzy bunch of seeds stuck in the middle of the flowers.  I thought it was just the seeds starting to dry out.

It turned out to be the nest of an American Painted Lady caterpillar.  I’ve never seen one of their nests in the flowers.  Nests that I find earlier in the year are always made in leaves.

A few more butterflies


Silver-bordered Fritillary

Question Mark – these butterflies have a beautiful lavender border on their wings when they’re freshly hatched.

The under side of the Question Mark – showing the white mark that gives it its name.

Meadow Fritillary

Giant Swallowtail

A Hermit Sphinx caterpillar

Here are a few of the flowers blooming in the prairies

White Gentian with a bumble bee.  The flowers don’t open very far, so the bees pull the petals apart, and push their way in.

Flowers in the wetland

Stiff Goldenrod in Pat’s Prairie

Stiff Gentian

Great Plains Ladies Tresses – an orchid that grows in dry prairies

Common Carrion Flower

Field Milkwort

Fringed Gentian

Bottle Gentian

Rough Blazing Star

Silky Aster

The view from Indian Grass Point.  The bright green, mowed field is the area I planted last winter – Mike has been mowing it all summer.  Next summer we’ll let it grow up and see if there are any prairie plants growing in it.

A Tree Frog, sitting in a Leadplant outside our door.

These footprints are in the dust on our garage door – I think they’re tree frog prints.  I don’t know of any other creature that could walk up a smooth metal door.

A storm coming across the prairie

This spider built its web between a Queen Anne’s Lace plant and a woodpecker hole in a dead aspen tree.  The spider was hiding in the hole.  I tried to entice it out, but it wasn’t interested in having its picture taken.

This birch tree grows above our bench on the Knife Edge Point.  We’ve noticed several hummingbirds buzzing in the tree above our heads.  When I looked up into the tree, I realized what they’re after – tree sap coming out of the holes made by a Yellow-belled Sapsucker.  Red Admiral and Question Mark butterflies like the sap too.  There are three butterflies in the picture – they’re hard to see because the undersides of their wings are so well camouflaged.

An interesting little fungus – it’s a kind of Puffball – only about an inch across

This bright orange slug was crossing the road one morning.  I’ve never seen one that’s so big or so bright colored.  I’m not sure what it is – but I’ve got a guess.  I think it might be Arion subfuscus – originally from Europe.  It’s common in New England, and has been found as far west as Illinois.

The Knife Edge Prairie     The Big Bluestem is very tall this year in all the prairies.  Maybe it likes all the rain we’ve had.

There are still a few moths coming to my lights – this is a tiny one – less than 1/2 inch long.  It’s a Triangle-backed Eucosoma.

This is one of Mike’s photos of some patches of sun in our valley.  Our wetland is in the foreground – someone else’s corn field is beyond the road.