Sunny and 89°F. Wind 25-30 mph.
I revisited the same location from a few weeks ago – an entirely new group of prairie wildflowers had appeared. The road sides and fields were just full of color!
In the photo above you can see several color variations of the Mexican Hat or Prairie Coneflower. They can have dark red petals with yellow edges…
all yellow petals…
and anything inbetween! These little beauties sure brighten the place up.
Purple cone flower, or Echinacea, was in full bloom. The first flower I came upon had an unusual beetle on it. At first I didn’t believe it was a beetle, but knew it had to be because of the wing covers and antennae. I couldn’t wait to get home to look this guy up. He’s so fuzzy!
This pretty blue flower is from a Silverleaf Nightshade. I love the way they look, but they are not human friendly. These cute things have painful thorns. Also, their fruit, which looks like a cherry tomato, is poisonous.
I almost passed this one by. It doesn’t have a showy flower and it is an invasive weed, but it’s pretty cool. These are the seedpods of the Curly Dock.
Interesting right? It also has long, curly edged leaves.
Ok, back to the pretty flowers. This adorable tiny flower is the Deptford Pink. I LOVE the white dots. It has two orangy-yellow little aphids(?) on it as well. So cute!
The Purple Prairie Clover is very beautiful. It is not a true clover, so the name is a strange choice. It will continue to bloom all the way up to the top.
I didn’t notice at the time, but there were some critters on the flowers. This is a snout weevil from the family Curculionidae, and it’s a tiny tiny thing. I’ve seen pictures of snout weevils before, but never realized how small they were. Wow!
I’ve shown two different photos of this next plant, the wild onion. The first was just opening. The second was in bloom. This crazy looking thing is the bulblets taken sprout! So where are the seeds?
I came across another grouping of Purple Cone Flowers in my wanderings and, without the beetle to distract, I really paid attention to the structure. Amazing.
Here’s one with the petals just coming out.
The striking red color of the Butterfly Milkweed attracted me and a ton of critters. Here’s another fuzzy beetle like I saw earlier! It is a Bee Mimic Beetle! Does this position look familiar?
Closeby I saw the bee I believe this beetle must be mimicking. A grey bee, I’m not sure what kind it is. If anybody has an idea, please let me know. He quickly flew away, but I captured one blurry image of it.
Back to the beetle, oddly, he kept putting one leg up in the air. Why? Maybe it is a defense mechanism? In the photo below you can see that even his eye mimics a bee’s, but the antennae and legs are all beetle.
I obsessed on him a little.
On the same Butterfly Milkweed – there was a shy Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly. That is one big ole yellow eye.
Another butterfly present was the Pearl Crescent.
I turned away for a second and when I looked back a Wheel Bug Nymph had captured the Pearl Crescent! You can see the Assassin Bug’s beak aiming at the butterfly’s head. He will inject a salivary fluid into the butterfly that will paralyze it and start to dissolve it’s insides. The liquid then gets sucked out the same hollow beak. If you try to handle one of these critters, you can get a very painful bite, so don’t do it! This particular nymph is a molting or two older than the last time we saw it.
The wind blew the duo to the ground, and I swear he gave me the stink eye before continuing his task. I quietly backed away.
I spotted another Wheel Bug nymph that was reaching for the leaf of another plant. The wind was making his life difficult, poor fella. This nymph is at a different stage of molting than the one above, which is slightly bigger. I’m assuming the one above is further along in it’s progress to adulthood. They both have very interesting markings.
The Butterfly Milkweed was so active with bug life that I almost forgot to get a picture of it. This photo shows the different stages of the flower’s development. It is a stunning plant.
Nearby was a ripe Blackberry. The fruit developed in about 3 weeks based on when I saw it flower. Yes, I ate it!
Think of how small this Sawtooth Blackberry is… There was a itty bitty critter on the leaf. It was all but too small to see, but so interesting with all the color and texture!
I kept seeing huge seed balls that I assumed were a form of dandelion. I remembered the yellow flowers and the fact that I never bothered to look at one closely. The road sides have tons of the seed heads now. They are quite impressive! This is part of a puffball from a Yellow Goats Beard.
Get out there and do some wandering!