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.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summer Hiking

It has rained in Athens County for 21 straight days!! Yes, someone was counting. It's summer break, and I'm stuck watching movies instead of getting out in the field. So here are a few random shots of things I found while dodging raindrops. Look close, that red-orange spot is not the head of the inchworm, but an oak bud.

Our campus prairie is just starting to pop out a couple species. This is Crowns-beard, Verbesina helianthoides. It tends to be a more western species. A couple years ago, I could find but one plant. Now there are several in bloom. Remember the golden rule when managing such areas, prairies=patience.

One of my better finds was this Coral Hairstreak, Satyrium titus. It's occurs state wide, yet this is only the second time I've seen one. It's a gray hairstreak with a row of black spots that parallel a row of orange circles. Their peak flight period has already passed, so on freshly hatched specimens, that orange is much more brilliant.

Nice and juicy. Well maybe not as tasty as a true Blackberry. Essentially, that's what this is. Blackberries that grow along the ground are referred to as Dewberry, Rubus spp. Some fruits stay red, most turn black. I didn't recognize this species. It was very hairy with many leaves undivided.  In the Woody Plants of Ohio, Lucy Braun lumps most of them together. In the Flora of West Virginia, there are a million of them (well almost). After looking through that book, I think I'll stay a lumper not a splitter on these!

Common Wood Nymph, Cercyonis pegala. Like other members of the family, these butterflies have a row of circles down the wing. Unlike the Pearly Eye, Eyed Brown, or the recently posted Carolina Satyr and Little Wood Satyr, this species is dark brown rather than light brown. In the typical form, the blue-black circles of the forewing are surrounded by a large patch of yellow. This is also visible on the inside. Don't be surprised if you see other forms of this butterfly that show little to no yellow at all.

Black Swallowtail, Papilio polyxenes. This is a female, showing only small yellow spots in the forewings. The males have large yellow triangles on their wings.

Black Cohosh, Actaea racemosa. Black Cohosh is a striking plant reaching 9 feet tall. It starts flowering from the bottom up, and within two weeks the blooms are concentrated at the tops.

The leaves are bi-pinnately compound, 2-3 feet in width.

I didn't have my macro when I found this, but there is enough here to put it in a group. I have become interested in Centipedes and Millipedes of late. Derrick Hennen of the Normal Biology Blog continues to work on a list for Ohio. This is one I had not payed attention to before. A brown millipede with a dark spot on each abdominal side, and a black head and rear portion. I believe it's a type of Cylindroiulus. Without a specimen under a scope, I wouldn't dare venture any further on ID.

Excuse the graininess, but I had to crop a lot to see the details. This is the queen of the Eastern Yellow Jacket, Vespula maculifrons. Queens are always larger than workers. The species is recognized by several characters. The top of the thorax is black, the back of the thorax has a black triangle. The first two abdominal segments have Batman capes. The rest of the abdomen have black stripes and spots separate from one another. In the workers, the spots and stripes blend together.

Not five minutes after spotting the last one, this lady came along. This is the queen of the Southern Yellow Jacket, Vespula squamosa. One ID feature of this queen is she is orange, not yellow. Usually only one black abdominal stripe is visible. The others are seen when she pulsates her body.

Only the queen yellow jackets overwinter. Come spring she builds a small nest, rears the young, then that brood takes over building and rearing the colony for the rest of the summer. This queen has even been known to crawl into the nests of other yellow jackets, steal their eggs or larvae, and raise them as her own.
People ask me what 'officially' do you call a Yellow Jacket? I have heard some very colorful names from people who have been stung, but I'll not use those here. A Yellow Jacket is simply a type of wasp or hornet, not a bee. Here she is taking flight. Notice the McDonald's golden arches on her thorax, another key identification feature. Ya, I'm lovin' it.

1 comment:

  1. I always manage to learn something reading your blog. You should really get on Facebook so more people can read your stuff! Hope the rain stops for you soon. :)