Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Home Alone

Leon is away celebrating a friend's birthday on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. Months before the birthday celebration was arranged, I had agreed to teach a butterfly course for the Morton Arboretum's Naturalist Certificate Program. The first of two field experiences had been scheduled for yesterday. Consequently, Leon is in Washington and I'm here.

I was looking forward to teaching the course until yesterrday morning. The day dawned cloudy. Before I left the house, it began to rain. There are few things that I hate more than trying to give a butterfly walk or workshop when the weather is bad. Of course you don't see any butterflies, and I'm left trying to talk my way though the event. When I got to the Fen, most of the class was there. We discussed the possibility of setting a rain date. I suggested that we wait the 20 minutes until the scheduled start of the class to let the stragglers show up, and then we could make the decision. At 10 on the dot, the last students shoed up, and the sky began to clear. This seems to be a theme with me lately.


Eyed Brown Caterpillar

It turned out to be a good day for butterflies. We saw everything that I hoped to, and had a few surprises. We saw a dogface butterfly. These are hard to photograph- even BugGuide does not currently have a picture. A member of the class found a caterpillar on his leg. It turned out to be an eyed brown- one of the nice wetland butterflies that we were also seeing adults of. On one of our kames, the pale purple coneflower was putting on an amazing display.


The Large Kame at Bluff Spring Fen

The floral display on the kame led me to go out to Rockford today to see Rogers Prairie. Rogers was the inspiration for trying to get more species diversity onto our kames. Unfortunately, Rogers Prairie is now closed to the public- though it now is enjoying full protection from damage. I visited nearby, and very similar, Harlem Hills Prairie instead.


Harlem Hills Prairie

The purple coneflower is the really conspicuous plant. There were some great insects on both it and the roses that are also blooming.


Rose Chafer. Yes, I know it's on Purple Coneflower.


Rose Curculio


Unidentified Chrysomelid beetle feeding on sumac leaves

Dinner was a large slab of beef on the grill. Leon doesn't care for that, so I'm pleasing myself tonight.

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11 Comments:

At 21:21, Blogger Floridacracker said...

Nice shots Doug.
I had a close encounter with a some robber flies that mimic bees down in my pond bottom last week.
I'll try and post them this week. I think it's this ...http://bugguide.net/node/view/190973.

I caught them in flagrant delecto.

Also, a very colorful fly. I'll shoot for Tuesday on that post.

 
At 05:03, Blogger Lemuel said...

I'm glad that your class worked out - especially since you had honored the commitment in the face of Leon's trip.

 
At 08:12, Blogger BentonQuest said...

I miss the grasslands of Illinois! Your posts always make me a little nostalgic. Loved the photos.

 
At 10:24, Blogger robin andrea said...

You have been having such good luck with the weather. Those grasslands are beautiful, doug. What a great place to teach a class.

 
At 19:20, Blogger T.R. said...

Beautiful rolling prairie -- are you certain you're in Illinois?

I love all the bug shots. Fantastic.

 
At 19:33, Blogger cedrorum said...

Glad to hear your day cleared up. It really looks much greener there than the pictures you posted recently. It's that same green I see in Pablo's Roundrock photos.

 
At 21:36, Blogger Doug Taron said...

FC- That's a very cool robber fly.

Lem- I couldn't really back out of this one. The students paid for the class and I'm being paid (a little) to teach it. Had it been otherwise, I might have tried to find someone to sub for me.

Ben- The photos are of places that look very much like the prairie out near Dixon. That may be increasing the sense of nostalgia.

Robin- I agree that this was a great place to teach the class. the next installment is next Saturday, in an equally interesting spot. I'll take photos.

T.R.- Thanks. This part of Illinois is called the Morainal Division. It's hillier than most of the rest of the state.

Cedrorum - The reason the Fen looks greener (I think) is that a lot of spots that I typically photograph were not on this year's burn rotation. The vegetation is thickening up to the point where the green of this year's growth is now covering the brown of last year's thatch.

 
At 00:39, Blogger Ur-spo said...

you tactfully left out Sven.

I recall coneflowers are the most advanced of flowers - true?

 
At 13:11, Blogger Kathiesbirds said...

Doug, this is a really good post. What is a Kame? I have never heard that word before. Great photos. The praire and the fen look so inviting! Did you spot Laura Ingalls anywhere about? ;) Glad you enjoyed your beef. We had some here last night grilled outside. Yum!

 
At 22:44, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Spo- One must be tactful regarding Sven. Coneflowers are fairly typical composites (Asteraceae). I don't know enough about plant taxonomy/evolution to know if they are the "most advanced" or not, but I'm always a bit suspicious of that sort of language.

Kathie- Thanks. A kame is a type of glacial hill. It's also a great word for Scrabble. I'll try to do a post on them in the near future.

 
At 18:12, Blogger Steven and Aisha said...

It's really a cute caterpillar but I am scared of them. Lol! I love it when they turn to butterflies though and also I love the photos you have of the flowers.

 

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