Friday, July 15, 2011

Biophilia erupts near Gilson Creek

Had the pleasure of hiking with two elementary teachers and a nurse today, and the weather was perfect for wildflower and bug activity. I've been excited about the frequency of Goldenrod Crab Spider sightings these past couple of weeks. They're almost always where I seek them, and in all combinations of camouflage or not... That is, we've seen the white phase on white flowers as well as on yellow flowers, and also the yellow phase of the spider against both backgrounds. Today's highlight was a large white one on top of a Yarrow flower head. Yesterday we saw both white and yellow ones against St. John's Wort blossoms. More often than not they've been eating some other bug when we arrived.
We also saw Dragonflies and Damselflies so I could conveniently point out the difference. The most obvious is that Dragonflies land with their wings outstretched (3rd photo from top) while Damselflies land with their pressed together over their backs (4th photo from top). The bodies of Dragonflies are bulkier and usually larger than those of the rather dainty Damselflies. We also saw some nice specimens of Crimson Columbine blooming. There were lots of butterflies along the way, some of which stopped long enough to drink nectar from flowers that we got some nice photos. Here (bottom photo) we have a Pale Swallowtail landed on Pennyroyal. In the next week or so, we should see large groups of Red-shouldered Ctenucha Moths gathering on the Pennyroyal. Have seen only a couple of them so far this season and they're still pretty skittish.
More photos from today's hike will be posted tomorrow. Also, a discussion of the variety of plant fragrances we enjoyed.

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