Journal for May 31, 2024

This has been a beautiful warm month – spring sliding into summer.

Here’s an early in the month photo of Willow Bend – with Maple Ridge and its spring trees beyond.


Misty trees above the house


The Cat’s Paw Prairie with spring skies


Spring flowers and leaves on Indian Grass Point


Evening sky after a storm


While treating Garlic Mustard on Pine Point I found a big patch of Big leafed Aster.  I usually find this species in shady, overgrown savannas where it almost never blooms.  Pine Point Savanna was recently cleared so it’s very sunny here, and it obviously bloomed last year.


I found some hopeful signs while working on garlic mustard – something eats it!  These are tiny aphids – a Lipaphis species, I think.   They were clustered around the flowers, and the flowers on those stalks didn’t open.


Some of the aphid nymphs


At the end of the Garlic Mustard season there are always big areas that I just couldn’t get to.  So we’re trying weed whacking the flowering tops to see if that slows it down.  Here’s Mike at work with the weed whacker.


Spring trees and flowers are blooming everywhere and we’re seeing lots of butterflies…



A slightly battered Black Swallowtail on Hoary Puccoon.  It looks like several birds took bites out of his wings.


Yellow Star-grass with a tiny hopper


The first Common Ringlet of the season


Mated Pair of Eastern Tailed-Blue butterflies


Prairie Smoke


Indian Paintbrush


Blue-eyed Grass – not really a grass – it’s in the Iris family


This is the edge of one of our bluff prairies where I’ve been clearing out brush, 5-10 feet a year, down the west-facing slope.  This year the more recently cleared area blossomed with Blue-eyed Grass and Hoary Puccoon.


A female Juvenal’s Skipper (butterfly)


Wild Lupine and Golden Alexanders


It’s a good year for Lupine – this is one of the larger clumps.


Yesterday – just at the peak of the Lupine blooming season we noticed these (native) blister beetles.  They eat the flowers and seeds of Lupine and White Wild Indigo.  This happens every year – every day there will be more beetles until they’ve eaten most of the flowers and seeds in most of the prairies.   The beetles don’t hurt the plants, but it means the flowers will be gone soon, and they won’t make seeds.  In the last few years the balance has been a little better – the beetles disappear before they’ve eaten quite all the flowers, and the White Wild Indigo can usually manage to bloom a second time.


One of our Pasqueflower flowers made seeds.


Monarchs!  We’ve been seeing lots of them – we think more than last year.


We were excited to see the spectacular show of Northern Lights….the first time I’ve ever seen them with colors other than green.  The photos show more pink than we saw in person, but still, we did see some pink.




The creek with an old willow


One of our larger beaver dams.  This is an old one that was neglected for several years, but now the beavers are maintaining it again.  The willow thickets along the creek fluctuate in size depending on how enthusiastically the beavers are maintaining their dams.  This area still has plenty of raw material.


Hidden Oaks Point with Hoary Puccoon


Mike has been enjoying taking wide angle photos on his phone of our spring skies.   Here’s Center Valley with clouds.


The Knife Edge Prairie – with more clouds.


The spring insects are out – both at my moth lights, and during the day.

This is one of the Lunas that came to lights.


One-eyed Sphinx


Snowberry Clearwing Moth


Polyphemus Moth


Another view of the Polyphemus – showing those huge antennae.


Most of the caterpillars I rear are mysteries – I have to wait until the adults emerge to figure out what species they are.  But here are two that are so distinctive that I could figure them out.

White-spotted Chionodes – it eats oak leaves.  The adult is a very small gray and black moth.


Black-cheeked Tentmaker – it eats aspen or willow leaves


This is an old trail that we call The Dugway.  When we first came here it was overgrown with brush and fallen trees.  Once we got it cleared it was a beautiful walking trail through the woods – until 2016 when a big rainstorm washed out a piece of the hillside and part of the trail.

The Dugway – August 2016 after the wash-out


We haven’t used it since then, but yesterday we thought we’d try and see whether we could still walk it.  It’s a little overgrown!


This was the hardest part to get through.

We’re going to try clearing it again and see if we can make it walkable.


Golden Alexanders in the Narrows Prairie


Baltimore Oriole nest


Raspberries and Golden Alexanders


Spring clouds over Center Valley