Posts Tagged ‘caterpillar’

Baby Insects in the Rigdon Area

I believe this interesting insect is the nymph of a bush katydid. It looks like it might have just molted as you can see an empty shell under the flower of snapdragon skullcap (Scutellaria antirrhinoides). It sure is cute!

A hairstreak caterpillar wrapped around the fruit of rose checkermallow.

Low elevation seeds were starting to ripen, and the weather was still cool (little did I know then how hot it would get!), so on June 24th, I decided to spend a day collecting seeds around the Rigdon area of southeastern Lane County. I had vague plans of the favorite places I wanted to stop by but ended up changing my plans all day. I had planned to head straight south of Hills Creek Reservoir, but as I left Oakridge, I remembered that the stretch of roadside meadows along the north end of the lake (east of the dam, less than 2 miles on Road 23) was the only easy place in the area to get silver lupine (Lupinus albifrons) seeds. When I arrived there, they were mostly gone, but the seeds (technically mericarps) of rose checkermallow (Sidalcea asprella [malviflora] ssp. virgata) were ripe and abundant. That reminded me I had seen caterpillars on them in the past. Once I started looking, I spotted at least 9 greenish to pink slug-like caterpillars—most likely those of gray hairstreaks. A great start to the day! Read the rest of this entry »

A “Berry” Surprising Day at Groundhog and Warner Mountains

The star plant of the day was probably western mountain ash (Sorbus scopulina) with its shiny red berries. It was abundant along the roadsides. The large meadow in back is on Little Groundhog Mountain, more or less the south end of Groundhog Mountain.

In late summer, the gorgeous berries of wax currant (Ribes cereum) ripen, and the leaves develop a waxy coating.

After hearing from my friend Doramay Keasbey that Road 2120 was actually in pretty good condition, I decided I really needed to get back to Groundhog Mountain sometime this year. I used to go multiple times a year as it is one of my favorite places and has so many different interesting botanical spots to check out. With the fire danger finally reduced and the smoke no longer affecting the area (unfortunately for Doramay, it was pretty bad for her and her friend Pat when they went in early August), I was finally able to return on September 13. I was accompanied by fellow Native Plant Society of Oregon (NPSO) member Angela Soto, who had never been to this terrific botanical area. Due to the smoke and fire danger, I didn’t get out much in August and went alone as I was never sure until morning what the air quality would be like. It was wonderful to get back to “business as usual” and to be able to take another plant lover with me. Read the rest of this entry »

Return to Tidbits

My first pika of the year! As soon as we reached the talus, I stopped to look for pikas. My husband spotted this one right away. It actually appeared to be running toward us, but I’m guessing it was just looking for its own safe spot. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a clear view before it disappeared under the rocks.

On July 11, My husband, Jim, and I were joined by our friend Peter Gallagher on a trip to Tidbits Mountain. It had been 5 years since I’d been there, but Jim hadn’t been for 20 years, and it had been quite a while for Peter as well.

On our way back to the car, we passed this wasp with an impressive ovipositor (not a stinger!). Apparently, it is a Norton’s giant ichneumonid wasp (Megarhyssa nortoni). According to Wikipedia, they live in the forest, where their larvae are parasitoids of the larvae of horntail wasps.

It was interesting to see how the combination of above-normal winter snowpack and early summer drought manifested in the bloom period. The spring flowers were long gone in most places. As I expected, the gravelly areas west of the summit were completely toasted with only a few species still in bloom. 2012 was also a high snowpack year but followed by a “normal” spring. My trip that year on July 9 (see Off the Beaten Track at Tidbits) was completely different with gorgeous flowers covering the south-facing gravelly slope of what I call “the wall.”

I was surprised, however, that not only were there fresh spring flowers on the north-facing talus slope, there were several patches of snow remaining along the edges of the bottom slope. The trail was also in worse shape than I’ve ever seen it. We had to negotiate many fallen trees. The last section of road wasn’t in great shape either, and we wished we had parked at the bottom and walked after almost getting stuck going up. Still, we enjoyed our hike. No matter the season, the rock formations are always gorgeous. Here are some photographic highlights. Read the rest of this entry »

Finally Back to Potter Mountain

On the east side of the ridge, the gravel is filled with marumleaf buckwheat (Eriogonum marifolium). This attracted a lot of pollinators.

A spring white caterpillar has just shed its skin to allow it to grow a bit more. I checked most of the rockcress (Boechera sp.) I saw. I found this caterpillar and another smaller one as soon as we hit the rocky area. I only spotted one egg. In the phlox area, I chased a fast-moving adult white who never let me get close enough for an ID, but it might also have been a spring white.

Several years ago, my husband Jim and I tried to get up to Potter Mountain, but the winter storms had left so many branches on the road that we gave up in frustration. I really wanted him to see the beautiful rocks up there, so I had again planned to go up last year, but then a fire broke out right next to the summit—the Potter Mountain fire. Thwarted again. The third time’s a charm, they say, and we did finally make it up there on July 2. It was a beautiful day—though a bit warm—so we had a great view of the surrounding mountains. We bushwhacked north on the ridge as far as the helicopter landing spot—only about 6/10 of a mile from the road. We’d missed most of the early-season flowers, but there were still plenty of things in bloom and enough butterflies to keep me happy. And since we accessed Potter Mountain via Staley Creek Road 2134 (in good shape, by the way), we were able to cool off at the end of the day with a short stop at the wonderful Staley Creek Gorge. Here are some photographic highlights of our day. Read the rest of this entry »

Butterflying with an Expert at Bristow Prairie

Neil Bjorklund at the rock garden all geared up for a day of butterfly photography.

One of the odd cat’s ears (Calochortus sp.) I’ve seen so often at Bristow Prairie. Not only does it have two extra petals, it’s not clear which species it is.

It had been almost 20 years since I’d had the opportunity to go out in the field with butterfly expert Neil Bjorklund. Neil’s website Butterflies of Oregon is the resource for the butterflies of our state, and he was a co-founder of our local chapter of the North American Butterfly Association (NABA). On June 28, we headed up to Bristow Prairie, one of my all-time favorite spots. Neil had been to Bristow Prairie a number of times, but he hadn’t been to the small wetlands that—as far as we know at present—are the northernmost outposts of Sierra Nevada blues. He also wasn’t aware of the south-facing bald I call “the rock garden” or “Lewisia Point,” two other excellent places to see butterflies. Our trip was mutually beneficial—I showed him my favorite spots, and he taught me a lot more about identifying butterflies. Read the rest of this entry »

Early Look at Meadow on Sourgrass Mountain

Thompson’s mistmaiden was abundant on the seepy parts of the slope (which is most of it!).

I was surprised to find this checkerspot caterpillar wandering around some wholeleaf saxifrage (Micranthes integrifolia), which is definitely not a host food plant. Neither is Thompson’s mistmaiden, the little flowers popping up among the saxifrage leaves. There must have been some paintbrush nearby.

My last report of 2022 was about two late-season trips to hidden meadows in the area near Saddleblanket and Sourgrass mountains (see Exploring Two New Meadows). I was really excited about getting to see the meadows in bloom this year, especially the large one off of Road 140 on the west flank of Sourgrass Mountain. Having already been to nearby Tire Mountain (see Early Season at Tire Mountain), I had seen the lush green meadow from the north side of the ridge, and I knew the road was clear to Windy Pass. On May 30, Nancy Bray accompanied me, hoping for a first look at the early spring flowers in the big meadow. We had also planned to try to get to the other meadow and nearby Elk Camp and Nevergo Meadow, just a few more miles to the north, but we were stopped by a single patch of snow blocking Road 140. Luckily, we were only half a mile from the first meadow, so we walked the rest of the way up the road, which was clear of snow except in some ditches. There were still some glacier lilies (Erythronium grandiflorum) and fresh western trilliums (Trillium ovatum) in the freshly melted-out ditches and road banks on our way up. Read the rest of this entry »

Early Season at Tire Mountain

Spreading phlox (Phlox diffusa) is one of the treats for those who do early botanizing in rocky areas. The yellow flowers of spring gold (Lomatium utriculatum) were just starting to appear.

My first caterpillars of the year! These two checkerspot caterpillars have overwintered as small caterpillars, so they may have woken up recently. Between the spines and the distasteful iridoid glycosides in the harsh paintbrush (Castilleja hispida), they are well protected from predators and can relax in the open.

Both Molly Juillerat and I are leading trips to Tire Mountain during the Native Plant Society of Oregon‘s annual meeting next week, so on May 20, we headed up there together to see if the road and trail were open and how the plants were looking. The cold, wet April slowed spring down, but the hot and dry May weather that followed created an odd combination of the flowers barely having started, while the moss was already dried out. The typically great show of annuals, including seep monkeyflower (Erythranthe microphylla), large-flowered blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia grandiflora), rosy plectritis (Plectritis congesta), and bluefield gilia (Gilia capitata) will probably be disappointing, but hopefully the deep roots of many of the perennials like deltoid balsamroot (Balsamorhiza deltoidea) and the four different species of lomatium (L. hallii, utriculatum, nudicaule, and dissectum) will still be tapping April moisture for a while. And, of course, we are still praying for rain in June before the actual summer drought starts! Read the rest of this entry »

Exploring Two New Meadows

Looking east across the Saddleblanket Bald meadow, you can see the alder thicket following the water as it drains from the wetland uphill.

While planning a trip to collect seeds at Elk Camp and Nevergo Meadow, I was showing my husband where I was going on Google Earth and happened to notice what looked like a small natural meadow less than a mile west of Elk Camp. It wasn’t far from a road that once led to an old trailhead for Saddleblanket Mountain. I remembered it being gated the last time I drove by, but it was only a half-mile or so to walk if it was still closed. Intrigued, I decided I should add it to my trip. The following day, August 15, I headed up to Nevergo Meadow by my usual route, south from Big Fall Creek Road 18. After a short stop at Nevergo Meadow, I drove south on Road 142 past the trailhead that hooks into the Alpine Trail near the Elk Camp Shelter. It’s only another 1/3 mile to Road 143, which deadends after 0.6 miles. The gate was actually open, and the road was clear and in good shape. I found out later it had been opened and brushed to use as a fire break. Thankfully last year’s Gales Fire never made it over to this area, though I passed burned trees on the drive up farther north. Read the rest of this entry »

Summer Starts with a Rainbow of Colors at Tire Mountain

The great camas (Camassia leichtlinii) was stunning. We simply had to climb up the wet, rocky slope to get a better look.

Even the clovers were growing en masse. Tomcat clover (Trifolium willdenovii) might be the showiest of our annual clovers.

On Thursday, June 23, I was accompanied by Adam Schneider, visiting from Portland, for a trip to Tire Mountain. Like me, Adam spends a lot of his time photographing wildflowers, although he gets farther afield than I do. He also has a terrific website, Northwest Wildflowers, with great photos, location information, and more. After such a rainy spring, I figured the plants would be in great shape, and they did not disappoint. It was hard to figure out what to focus the camera on—it was all gorgeous. Hopefully, the ground is still moist enough and the current heatwave is short enough that it won’t dry things out too much. Get there soon, if you can! Read the rest of this entry »

A Stowaway from Eagles Rest

Last year, I discovered the caterpillars of dotted blues on barestem buckwheat (Eriogonum nudum) in the lower opening at Eagles Rest (see Butterfly Discovery at Eagles Rest). I had hoped that I would be able to find more there this year, now that I knew when and where to look. But the severe shortage of rain this past spring caused the normally seepy lower tier where the buckwheat grows to dry out much sooner than usual. A trip in early June was rather depressing—a number of plant species seemed to be drying up without ever having bloomed. I saw no dotted blues, adults or caterpillars.

A golden hairstreak up in the chinquapin.

It wasn’t until August 6th that I returned to Eagles Rest to collect whatever seeds I could find while enjoying the short afternoon hike and pleasant view. I managed to collect seeds of paintbrush (Castilleja hispida and pruinosa here, I believe), barestem buckwheat, Rattan’s penstemon (Penstemon rattanii), and a few bulbs. Read the rest of this entry »

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