Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Late summer walk in the woods

My latest trip up to Sleepy Creek WMA was one of variety. It was like I was finding one of everything. At the hair pin turn I stopped to see what was on the Joe Pye Weed and was rewarded with this Great Spangled Fritiliary (Speyeria cybele).  I have photos of it showing the back side but I liked this one showing it's eyes the best. They are a member of the Brush-footed butterflies, family Nymphalidae. It lookes like it only has 2 pair of legs but that brisly looking stuff under its face is the 3rd pair that it gets it's name from. You can also see it's proboscus dipping into the nectar of the flower. This is a large butterfly sinilar in size to a Swallowtail.

Along the side of the road I spotted some early blooming asters.  These are Aster schreberia at least that is what I think they are. It is a light purple flower with a yellow center that turns redish and that is how my field guide described them.  This one had one of those little green sweat bees (Halictidae) feeding on it.

Crossing the road was a Buck moth caterpillar (Helimeuca maia). I usually see a couple of these a year, in fact I see the catpillar more often than the moth. This is definately a caterpillar you don't want to pick up.  In David Wagner's book, Caterpillars of Eastern North America, he wrote, "Stings that I received on the back of my hand from a Buck Moth caterpillaer were visible 10 days later...."  You got to give them credit though, they do give fair warning.

There were lots of yellow composits but for the life of me I cannot really tell one from another.  But I did see Dogbane that was old and beginning to go to seed and of course it had this lovely Dogbane Beetle (Chrysochus auratus) chomping away. That reflective color is really amazing isn't it.  It is missing one of its beaded shaped antennae, a type that is common to beetles. Day flying insects have shorter antenea because they can also see well, unlike the night insects that need to "feel" their way in the dark.

Speeking of night flyers I found this moth hanging upside down, I guess it was trying to look like a dead leaf but not really succeeding. It is female Imperial Moth (Eacles imperialis). Looks like she had a rough night.

I thought it was dead and when I touched it she dropped to the ground which was really a better hiding place because she just blended in with the few old and dead leaves.

As I walked up to this large mushroom I noticed the nauceous odor and the insects buzzing around it. I guess they thought it was rotting meat. I had seen this one before but for the life of me I couldn't remember what it was so I took this photo and went back to the car to look it up. 

It looked similar to a few others but still I wasn't sure so I got out a small trowel I use for collecting mushrooms and trotted back to dig it up and sure enought there was the answer: Carrot-foot Amanita (Amanita daucipes).  It even had the ring that had fallen off the stalk laying at the bottom near the base just as describe in my field guide. With a root like that it was easy to stick back into the ground.

Of all the species I saw that day this one was my favorite.  Like Luna Moths, the Praying Mantis seems special to me.  There are several species of mantis in my area but I think this one is a young European Mantis (Mantis religiosa) the one that the common name comes from.  I say it is young because you can see it's wings are not fully developed. I imagine it saying, "Oops, sorry, I didn't mean to bite your head off".  I think that would make a nice card don't you?

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Light and Voices said...

After looking at your post, I am speechless at the insect photos. I am in awe.
Joyce M

forestwalk/laura k said...

wow!! beautiful pictures...awesome blog...feels very comfortable here...i will be back to wander some more...

Woodswalker said...

Your photos are so wonderfully clear, and such a nice big size. All kinds of good stuff you found. Thanks for posting.

Barbara Rosenzweig said...

These are absolutely stunning!! Composition, color, critters!!!

Thanks for sharing these natural gems!