Journal for June 30, 2024

It’s been a beautiful month – warm with plenty of rain so we sometimes feel like we’re living in a rain forest.  The lingering drought from last year has completely disappeared

Most of my work time has been pulling Wild Parsnip in the wetland.  We have about 50 acres of wetland, most of which had invasive Wild Parsnips when we started.  I’ve been working from west to east so after 20 years the western half is in pretty good shape.  The eastern half still needs a lot of pulling.

Here I am, working on parsnip.


Some of the wetland plants are so tall that it’s hard to walk.  These are tall sedges and even taller Angelica.


Canada Anemones and Angelica


Golden Alexanders are blooming, with Canada Goldenrod along the banks.  There’s watercress in the creek – an aggressive invasive that grows in the creek and in all our streams.


American Manna Grass and sedges (and watercress) along the creek


A thicket of blooming Angelica


Babies are everywhere these days.

This is a baby Red-winged Blackbird.  Its parents were shrieking frantically, so as soon as I saw it I backed away.


A baby Baltimore Oriole exploring the tree branches near its nest.


Three young raccoons were having climbing practice on a big cottonwood tree.   They climbed up,


then down,


then up again.


We’re seeing lots of butterflies on the driveway – and everywhere else.

Red Admirals on the driveway


Red-spotted Purples and a Viceroy on scat on the driveway


Northern Cloudywing on my moth sheet


Northern Crescent


Mated pair of Little Wood Satyrs.


Mated pair of Red-spotted Purples


Eastern Tiger Swallowtail


Baltimore Checkerspot on the driveway


I found several large groups of Mourning Cloak caterpillars in the wetland.  These are the discarded skins of one group on a small willow.


Some of the older caterpillars had moved over to a nearby willow.


This has been a good year for Red Admirals – by the end of May most of our stinging nettle plants had several curled leaves held together with silk.


There were tiny Red Admiral caterpillars inside each curl.


They changed color as they grew.


Now the adults are starting to emerge – a newly emerged adult Red Admiral.


An adult Red Admiral, ready to fly


I also reared a few Eastern Commas.  I’ve reared them before, but their caterpillars and chrysalises are beautiful so it’s fun to see them again.

Eastern Comma caterpillars eating elm leaves


Eastern Comma chrysalis


Newly emerged Eastern Comma – showing the ‘comma’ mark


The top side of an Eastern Comma on the driveway


I’ve been seeing lots of moths – both ones I’ve reared, and ones I’ve attracted to my lights.

A male Cecropia that I reared from a caterpillar I found last fall


These are new species for the farm.

Eyed Paectes


Beautiful Sparganothis


Maple Callus Borer – this looks like a wasp, but it’s actually a moth.  Its caterpillars bore into maple trunks or large limbs causing a swelling called a callus.


Gold-headed Leafroller – its caterpillars eat ferns.


More rain coming – clouds over Buffalo Ridge


Northern Bedstraw and Prairie Phlox


Indian Paintbrush with Golden Alexanders


Wood Lily


Meadow Garlic – I planted this years ago, and this is the first time I’ve found it blooming.


I climbed the hill behind the house one evening – looking for a plant to feed one of my caterpillars.  As I walked up, a rainbow started forming, arching over the next ridge.

Mike got the best photo.


By the time I got to the top of the hill the rainbow was fading, but the clouds were still beautiful.