Friday, June 15, 2012

Critters and Flowers

I spent several days in Tucker county near Blackwater Falls and had opportunities to see many more critters and wildflowers. Below are some that I thought were especially interesting.

At the start of this trip lead by Tom Fox we found Bedstraw (Galium aparine) which is not much to look at but fun to play around with. Another common name for it is Catchweed and we had fun throwing it at each other and watching this weed catch onto our cloths. The scientific name “aparine” comes from the Latin word meaning “to seize”. My dog got into some once and it was a battle getting it out of her fur.

Apparently in the past it was used to stuff mattress because it forms mats that aren’t as compacted as regular straw. I wonder if they just wanted a way to get rid of it and that was the best solution. Tom related a story of how they could tell if the sheep herder was laying down on the job because he would have it attached to his back. In any case it is fun to throw onto your friends.

A new plant for me that was well known to the rest of the group was Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum). Wikipedia says, “Freshly picked leaves have an odor resembling burning tires when crushed, and if they are rubbed on the body the smell is said to repel mosquitoes.”

Higher up on the ridge along the road Blue-eyed Grasses were growing. They are a member of the Sisyrinshium genus and I believe they were Sisyrinchium angustifolium and although it looks similar to a grass it is a member of the Iridaceae or Iris family.

Also growing along the road with Hairyjoint Meadow Parsnip (Thaspium barbinode) a member of the Apiaceae or Carrot family.

Bowman's Root (Porteranthus trifoliatus) was another new plant for me.

Here is a common “Bud” found along West Virginia roads. Someone in our group said they had seen a “Bush” just up the road in a sunny area.

Here is something I don’t see every day. He must have gotten loose and was on a walk about. I never know what I’ll find on these back roads.

Part of me was looking at the flowers since it was a wildflower tour but part of me was also looking for butterflies for the atlas. Here are a few that found feeding on the few blooming plants that we did find.

Hobomok Skipper (Poanes hobomok).

Zabulon Skipper female feeding.

Zabulon Skipper female, notice the nice subtle color. The male has brown and yellow scales similar to the Hobomok.

Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) was pretty common that weekend. Looks like one of the tails is missing; they are often the first section of the wing to be grabbed by a bird.

Someone from our group brought this poor little Azure to me she had found in a web. The spider came along. It looks like some of the blue scales have attached to the back of the spider during their life and death struggle. I believe it is Bowl and Doily Spider (Frontinella communis) but I am not certain.

1 comment:

Woodswalker said...

Oh my, you sure had a wonderful day full of interesting things. I always wondered how bedstraw got its name, and I never knew that Herb Robert could be used as an insect repellent.