Journal for October 5, 2006

The fall ladybugs have arrived. Asian Lady Beetles (Harmonia axyridis) spend most of the year eating aphids on plants and shrubs. Sometime around the first week in October they leave the plants and start looking for protected places to spend the winter.

They fly through the air, crawl around on the sunny side of buildings, and find their way into houses and garages. They are especially active if the days are hot and sunny. The other insects that are doing the same thing right now are Box Elder Bugs (Leptocoris trivittatus).

We’ve found and blocked some of the ways that insects get into the house, but they still know of some places that we don’t. So we don’t have as many in the house as last year, but there are still some – mostly crawling on or around the windows. When we go outside, the bugs land on us, crawl around on our clothes, and bite us. It’s too bad that these last Indian summer days are spoiled by biting ladybugs.

Fortunately the plague only lasts a few days – a week at the most – and then they’re settled for the winter and don’t bother us any more.

We had a couple very warm days this week so there were butterflies out as well as the ladybugs.

This is one of the only Red Admirals I’ve seen this summer. Red Admirals don’t over winter here – they re-colonize every year from areas farther south. Some years I see hundreds of them, but this year there were only a few.

There are still a few Monarchs making their way south.

Here’s a battered and faded Eastern Tailed Blue.

I’ve been seeing lots of newly hatched butterflies which will spend the winter as adults: Milbert’s Tortoiseshells, Commas, Question Marks, and Mourning Cloaks.

Milbert’s Tortoiseshell

We visited Richard in Ashland, Wisconsin this week. We had a great time. Part of the entertainment was a kayaking trip on Lake Superior.

Back at the farm – the Sugar Maples across the road are all turning color.

Here’s the same view looking from the Knife Edge Point.

This is a Dissected Grape Fern (Botrychium dissectum). It grows in our remnant prairies, but it’s not very common so I like finding it. The tall shoot coming out from the leaf is the fertile frond – the part of the plant that carries the spores.

The leaf of Dissected Grape Fern