Monday, May 23, 2011

Three more from my Sunday Walk

For Ladybugs, my frame of reference is bright red ones with or without black spots. The most common ones where I live seem to be the Convergent Lady-beetle and the Nine-spotted lady-beetle. So, when I came across this brownish, not-very noticeable, Ladybug-like beetle (top photo), I wasn't too excited. But, when this one landed on a back lit tip of a Big Leaf Maple branch, it was a dramatic setting that begged for a photo. According to my favorite field guide, it's probably a Rathvon's Forest Lady-beetle. Now I'm curious. Before I retire for the night, I'm going to find out who this Rathvon person is. This beetle eats aphids.
Another nondescript find was this black beetle (middle photo) under a huge piece of Douglas-fir bark. I was in a very dark, shaded bit of forest, but this beetle stood out in two ways. It was quite shiny and it moved pretty fast. Those clues and the longitudinal stripes on the wing covers put it in the Carabidae family. We'll just call it a Carabid Beetle.
A plant we take for granted around here - it is so common - is the Oregon Grape, Berberis aquifolium (bottom photo). In the Barberry family, Berberidaceae, it may be a one-plant pharmacy. One of my field guides, which emphasizes medicinal properties of plants, would have me believe this plant is pure magic. Dozens of medicinal properties are attributed to it. Along the path I was hiking on Sunday, there were a few specimens that seemed particularly healthy. No damaged leaves, and clusters of bright yellow flowers. With the low afternoon lighting, they glowed like beacons. Very nice.

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