Flora and fauna of the Athens County area, and occasionally habitats outside Ohio. Subject matter will consist of both interpretive material and taxonomic issues in plant and animal identification.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mosquito Creek

Mosquito Creek Wildlife Area, located in Trumbull County, is primarily a waterfowl management area, but also has Woodcock, Pheasant and Grouse. We couldn't get any closer to these Turkey without scaring them into the woods. Ah, to have a telephoto again. It was nice running into current and former students working here and at Grand River.

The purpose of the trip was moth collecting. In July I posted various pics of moths, one of which was the Beautiful Wood Nymph. I mentioned the wing had a smooth green line, and the other had a wavy line. This is the other, the Pearly Wood Nymph, Eudryas unio.
Here is a closeup of the wing on the Beautiful Wood Nymph, compare the green line of the two.

A very common moth that most people don't recognize is this Tiger Moth known as the Isabella Moth. More popular is the larvae, known as the common Woolybear.

Wait, that's it?? Where are all the moths? I'm asking myself the same question. Alex is always talking me into something, and since I was in the area, I thought why not. Well it was a full moon, not a cloud in the sky, and by 11:00 we could see our breath it was so cold! Mind you, this was August 10th. Needless to say I had to find something else to do. We used a flashlight to locate flowers in the woods. This is the Heart-leaved Aster, Eurybia divaricatus. It's a small aster of woodlands.

Since night time insects were a bust, I'm glad I explored the area during the day. Here's another white aster known as Flat-topped Aster, Doellingeria umbellata. This was much taller than the previous, and found out in open areas. The asters are another tough group, but I find the white ones slightly easier than the lavender species to I.D.

Also in the Aster family is the Tall Ironweed, Vernonia gigantea. There are a couple of other rarer Ironweeds in Ohio, but this is the only common species, and is found throughout the state. This is one plant that cattle will not graze on in a pasture. It tastes bitter, and the plant fibers are just too tough to waste their time on.

Ironweed pollen is white. Gee I wonder what gave it away. Look at those overflowing pollen sacs. Bees will feed this to their larvae. This bee is covered all over with pollen grains. This is how pollination will occur between plants.

Looking nothing like the previous two species, Common Burdock, Arctium minus is also a member of the Asteraceae. The white and purple reproductive parts protrude upward, and there are no rays or petals on this flower. The green head will turn brown in the fall. It consists of slightly bent hooks that all too commonly end up stuck to your clothes.

Garden Phlox, common in open areas, differs from other phlox by concentrating its flowers in an almost flat topped bunch at the top of the plant. Other phloxes that look like this, such as Wild Sweet William, have a longer more narrow inflorescence.

Before you read on, can you guess what this is? If you said a Dogwood, that is correct. In the past I have posted on the common Flowering Dogwood, and the blue fruited swamp species, Silky Dogwwod. The Alternate-leaf Dogwood is the only species not opposite, so that's easy to recognize. In western Ohio there is a coarse, sandpapery species called Rough-leaf Dogwood. That leaves two more with white fruit, Red-osier and Gray. Red-oiser Dogwood is common in northern Ohio, especially along the Lake Erie marshes. Its branches and fruiting stalks are a bright blood red, especially noticeable in winter.

That leaves this one, the Gray Dogwood, Cornus racemosa. Its fruiting branchlets are also red, but the older branches turn a gray-brown. You can see a bent twig to the left of the fruit clusters.  Gray Dogwood forms large thickets and is common in disturbed sites.

What looks like a giant hawkweed, or an oversized dandelion? Sow-thistles. This is the Common Sow-thistle, Sonchus oleraceus. They are common in open sites and waste places. Many people consider them simply a roadside weed. Common Sow-thistle has divided leaves much like that of dandelion, and they also contain white milky sap.

If you look down the stem and see very prickly leaves, they belong to another species called Spiny-leaved Sow-thistle, Sonchus asper.

Looking at the leaves from the side, not only does S. asper have clasping leaves around the stem, but the leaf in general is curved in this semi-circular form.

There are a lot of wetlands on the area, and abundant in many of those spots is Meadowsweet, Spirea alba. Its pink flowered relative that I've posted on before, the Steeplebush, S. tomentosa, was growing right alongside of it. Meadowsweet is a white flowering species with 5 petals. It's a member of the Rose family. It prefers open bottomland areas with wet to moist soils. Spirea, especially the introduced species, are common in landscaping.

Another plant that prefers moist soils is the Green-headed Coneflower, Rudbeckia laciniata. This is a typical looking composite with its circular rays located below the flower head. Nothing unusual about that, but look at the batch I found isolated from the others.

These look more like Mums. They are the same species, the leaves and everything still matched. In fact there were a few in the batch that were "normal". They were located on a hummock out in a field. I wonder what's in that soil.

I know in woody plants an abnormal growth called witches-broom can cause many extra twigs to grow in a large bunch. Not being a plant pathologist, I have no idea what would cause this deformity. Feel free to chime in on this one folks. Maybe Eriophyid Mites?

Couldn't pass up the chance to get a pair of Monarchs mating. The one with the wings open is the male. Males can be determined by looking for that black spot on the hind wing. That is a scent gland containing sex pheromones. It would seem late for Monarch mating, but the caterpillar will still have plenty of time to grow and hatch before migrating south.

Is there room inside for both of us?

1 comment:

  1. nice post, Dennis! I've spent a lot of time this summer studying and doing a treatment on Ohio's Ironweed's. I've seen all 4 indigenous to Ohio's soils even if I did have to go to Indiana for true Vernonia missurica and Kentucky for V. noveboracensis. I got to see quite a bit of V. fasciculata in the Killdeer Plains area as well as some railroad side populations in west-central Ohio. very cool plants if you ask me!