Posts Tagged ‘insects’

Late Start to a New Year of Botanizing

Wasp enjoying the flowers of Hooker’s fairybells (Prosartes hookeri)

With the rainy, cold winter transitioning into a rainy, cold spring, I’ve barely done any botanizing off my property this year. What few fair weather days we’ve had, I decided to stay home and protect my own wildflowers by removing blackberries—addictively satisfying work. My one break from the rain was heading down to the California desert for a few days in March (95° almost every day!) to see the “super bloom” at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and Joshua Tree National Park (click on those links for my Flickr photo albums).

Enough wildflowers are popping up now that Sabine and I decided it was finally time to head to our favorite place to start the botanizing season. On Friday, April 28, we drove down to Hills Creek Reservoir and followed Road 21 as far as Mutton Meadow before heading back. It was a lovely day though crisp until the morning clouds eventually burned off. It’s still quite early, with almost nothing in bloom in Mutton Meadow, but we found plenty to see and enjoy.

This rocky oak-covered meadow area is just north of the reservoir. More meadows are hidden behind the ones along the road.

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Insects and Flowers at Saddleblanket and Elk Camp Wetlands

It had been 4 weeks since I had been to the wetlands at the base of Saddleblanket Mountain and in the area near Elk Camp, so since I am trying to track the whole season of bloom there, it was time for a return visit. John Koenig had never been to the wetlands, so he accompanied me on Thursday, July 11. With John along, I took advantage of his knowledge of graminoids to try and learn a bit more about the many sedges, grasses, rushes, and woodrushes that are found in wetlands. While I can’t remember everything he showed me, I was happy to make some progress and learn to at least recognize some of the species, even if I can’t remember all their names yet.

Platanthera dilatata

We couldn’t have timed it any better for the white bog orchids, which were at peak bloom and in perfect shape.

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Wonderful Wildlife and More at Warfield Bog

Phantom crane fly (Bittacomorpha occidentalis). Crane flies have a “halter”—something that looks like a pin—where there would be a second set of wings. Although they resemble mosquitoes, they are harmless.

Slender cottongrass (Eriophorum gracile) growing next to a pool filled with Potamogeton alpinus.

After some time off for my first visit to the Olympic Peninsula, I was back up in the Western Cascades on Thursday (August 18). Sabine accompanied me for a trip to Warfield Bog, an interesting wetland east of Oakridge. Last year I discovered a population of the rare swamp red currant (Ribes triste) there (see Unexpected Find at Warfield Creek Bog), and I wanted to do a more careful survey to see how much of it grows there. We relocated last year’s site easily, under a clump of firs growing near the south edge of the bog. The plants had a few unripe berries on them. We crossed the bog and headed to the northeast corner to check on the woods at the edge there. It turns out a photo I had taken there the year before had the currant leaves in them but I hadn’t recognized them at the time. We found those plants creeping along a bleached out log growing with its prickly cousin swamp gooseberry (Ribes lacustre). We actually saw six species of Ribes in the area. When we returned to the small lake by the road, we found three more patches of swamp red currant, all under trees or shrubs fairly close to the water. This is quite similar to the habitat of the ones at Park Creek I’d seen earlier in the month (see Rare Currant at Park Creek). Next year I hope to come back to see them in bloom. Read the rest of this entry »

Pollinator Party at Grizzly Peak

Great spangled fritillary

Great spangled fritillary on double delphinium (see next post for more on the delphiniums!)

My last trip of the year to Grizzly Peak turned out to be more about insects than plants. I can’t remember ever seeing such a variety of insects in one day. Kelley and I should have realized what a good insect day it was going to be when we met a bee expert in the parking area as soon as we arrived. We had seen some enormous bumble bees on our previous trip in late June, so we were sure he was in the right place for his research.

Along with bees, Grizzly Peak is an excellent site to look for butterflies. We saw quite a few as we passed through the various habitats. The gorgeous and statuesque Delphinium glaucum might not appear to be attractive to butterflies, but large butterflies that can reach their proboscis into the long spurs seemed exceedingly pleased with the stands blooming in openings in the woods near the beginning of the trail. We saw Western tiger swallowtails, anise swallowtails, great spangled fritillaries—both the golden brown males and the striking females with their deep chocolate brown and contrasting cream-bordered wings. There were even a few skippers and a clearwinged bee-like moth.

female blue copper on Eriogonum sphaerocephalum

My favorite of the day were the lovely female blue coppers. Their caterpillar host plant is Eriogonum, no shortage of sustenance for them there with four different species. The most unusual is Eriogonum sphaerocephalum, an East side plant. It is found in the burned western end of the summit. The female coppers were nectaring on these buckwheats. I love the subtle beauty of both of their gold-tinged colors and how they work so well together. The female, like many coppers, is brown on top, while the upperside of the stunning male is vibrant blue. You can tell the male blue copper from true blues by the prominent black veins across the blue.

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