Thursday, July 23, 2020

Summer Abundance in Diversity

The richness of summer is wrapping us up tight in her warmth, humidity, and fireflies and we are soaking up every single last minute of it.  It's hard to believe that just a few months ago, we repurposed our high tunnel into a shade house and the Earth was not yet greened...

and at the same time, the song sparrows laid their first eggs amidst the snow flattened goldenrod stalks. What looks like not much to us in early spring is clearly very important habitat.

Here's the nest all tucked in:

Now, that we are in full summer greenery, we found our first male Long-horned Bees nestled to bed under the head of this Gray-headed Coneflower just a few weeks ago. The marvelous lives of other species continues to drop us to our knees, puddle our jaws in our laps and make us giggle out loud. We've always loved so much about life, but when we really opened our eyes with less analysis and instead, pure wonder, we realized the magic and the joy of living is all around us. It's not in what we acquire or desire, but in the richness of other nations that we share this planet with.

The Common Milkweed plant hosts so many different insects and the shared resource of one type of plant for so many types of insects offers many lessons for us humans.

Milkweed Beetles...

AND Monarch Caterpillars. 

Diversity of life in all her shapes, colors, forms is everything, really; the meaning of life is most certainly woven into that tapestry. Here's some of what we've witnessed so far this summer.

Red-winged Blackbirds delight us daily with their songs and flash of vermilion red:

Raccoon Families so much smarter than us make us laugh and marvel:

The shy Groundhog always evokes an "awwwww":

Cyrtophorus verrucosus (Beetle ant mimic) nectars on Bladdernut we planted. We've never seen this insect before and we totally were fooled into thinking ant...until a closer look revealed the hidden identity.

Northern Ring-necked Snake at Mohican State Forest:

Miami Mist, (Phacelia purshii):

Round-leaved Orchid (Platanthera orbiculata) at Mohican State Forest:

Golden-backed Snipe Fly on our home recovering woodland trail:

Eristalis dimiata, one of the flower flies, won me over with those crisp white lines on a black background. Truly, I cannot (Jennifer) get enough of the invertebrates. Their lives are so important to the rest of all life and their shapes and still my heart.


Owlfly eggs with trophic eggs laid on the bottom left of the photo. This is another new one for us.

A marvelous shelter, of who? We don't know, but that stitching...look at that stitching!

Long horned beetles are fascinating to us because they are often so colorful and varied in their life cycle. Here's a Rustic Borer at home on our downspout:

Tycocerus sp. beetle on Purple Coneflower with a native bee. The beetle larvae live in decaying oak, hickory and other hardwoods. Look how they are sharing...

My pal, the Painted Hickory Borer:

I'm not for sure on this one...any thoughts?

Of course there are checks and balances for wood boring beetles and one of them is this beautiful wasp in the genus Xorides. That tail is for laying eggs on their hosts (aka food). And what might that be? Yep, you guessed it: wood boring beetle larvae, pupa or pre-emergent adults.

Thousands and thousands and thousands of red aphids on the Cup Plants made us further our knowledge of "bird food" and appreciate the complex web of life and checks and balances. The connections are deeper and richer than we humans will ever likely fully comprehend so it sure is fun and enlightening to observe.

We aren't great mothers because we can't stay up late very well, but thankfully some show themselves during the day so we can oooo and ahhh over them.

Giant Leopard Moth on our house; hosts: deciduous trees and low plants, including cabbage, cherry, maple, sunflower and willow.

Clymene Haploa at Mohican; hosts: Eupatorium sp., oak, peach, willow.

Early Button Slug Moth at our nature preserve; hosts: beech, birch, black cherry, chestnut, oak and witch hazel. All these tree and shrub species also grow here.

Yellow-collared Slug Moth also on our house; hosts: beech, hickory, ironwood and oak. All these trees grow here now.

Eight-spotted Forester Moth caterpillar; hosts: grape, Ampelopsis, virginia creeper.

On a recent hike, multiple showers rained down from the sky and we got wet and cold and then wet and hot and the best part was being outdoors in the weather. So often we seek shelter from inclement weather and not having an alternative puts us into the real world and just look at the real world: Lush and beautiful and mighty.

Steve the hawkeye man spotted this ancient species, the Gray Petaltail Dragonfly, flying around the campground at Mohican State Park. Uncommon and oh so special to see!  The dragonfly larvae are interesting, living in moist leaves on the edges of wet areas, not fully emerged in the water. Diversity friends! It's the magic of the world.

If you live in Ohio or travel through Ohio, make sure you visit the Arc of Appalachia preserves. They are a special non-profit doing some exceedingly important conservation work in southern Ohio.  Here's a few pics from Rock Run Wilderness and Chalet Nivale. Enchanting, both places.

Eastern-eyed Click Beetle:

Eastern Box Turtles. One whole and one with an old injury, but both keep on, keepin' on. A good lesson for me and Steve.

Black Cohosh is definitely one of my spirit plants. I don't know why. There's just a connection there, like with American Persimmon. ;)

Chalet Nivale clean, clean water. What a gift to see.

Mushrooms tell us fall is coming...

but for now we are reveling in the fireflies...

and learning there are oodles more than we ever knew.

The rains found us these past two days and the land feels the renewal as do our spirits.