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, May 21, 2014

More Spring Hiking

Before leaving the house I noticed this large Geometrid on my window. This is the Tulip-tree Beauty, Epimecis hortaria. This is one of our larger Inchworm moths.

Shooting from the top side shows the wavy markings typical of this species. I found it interesting to get a front and back view, but what did I learn from shooting both sides? My windows are filthy.

The diversity of Log Cabin Hollow keeps me going back for a wide variety of subject matter. I went to continue building pictures of aquatic insects, which I'll save for later. Along the creek were a pair of Harvester Butterflies, Feniseca tarquinius. Generally not a real abundant species, but here they are locally common. This butterfly is known for the caterpillars that feed not on plants, but aphids. A meat eating larva.

You can see the one on the left probing the log for nutrients. Their tongue, or proboscis is too short to penetrate down into flowers for nectar. The adults also feed on the sugar water wastes (or honeydew) from the same aphids the larvae consume. Speaking of wastes, you can see the droplet on the right specimen.  Adults have liquid wastes, while caterpillars have a solid waste or frass.

Also along the stream was this bee seeking out mud for its nest. Looking like half Carpenter bee and half Bumble bee, the hairy face and legs make this a Mason Bee. Bees in the genus Osmia are related to Leaf-cutting Bees. They are sometimes called Orchard Bees because a number of them were introduced and released for their pollinating abilities.

Rusty hairs, yellow and blue spots on the side, and a white racing stripe down the back, describes our Eastern Tent Caterpillar. Currently feeding on Wild Cherry leaves, they soon will be leaving the trees to pupate somewhere away from the food plant.

In a recent post I mentioned finding an old fruit stalk of the Putty-root Orchid, Aplectrum hyemale. I headed out to Wahkeena to find it in flower. These maroon and gold petals were just starting to open. The big broad leaves, also shown in that same earlier post, pop up nearly 6 months ahead of the flower. Come blooming time, you may not find the leaves, as they tend to wilt before the flower comes up.

Here was a group of plants with the petals a little further open.

A closeup of the middle lip, typical of many orchids. It wasn't until I enlarged the picture did I notice an unknown miniature spider in the upper flower.

Always one of my favorite orchids, this is the Pink Lady's Slipper, or Moccasin Flower, Cypripedium acaule. Look for it in conifer forests with acidic soils. Unlike the Putty-root, this species has a pair of basal leaves present during blooming.

In order to perpetuate, these plants depend on a fungal association below ground, and Bumble Bees above ground for pollination. Some studies show that prescribed burning can increase the orchid population by allowing more sunlight to penetrate, and to decrease the competition on the forest floor.

Long-leaved Stitchwort, Stellaria longifolia, is a narrow leaved species of Chickweed. Unlike it's shorter relatives, it tends to grow a foot or two high.

Violet Wood Sorrel, Oxalis violacea. Found in a variety of habitats, it's quite common in upland forests and sites with limestone soils.

Sweet Cicely, Osmorhiza claytonii, just beginning to bloom. The flowers look a little chewed, but that's because each of the petals are notched.

Sweet Cicely and Aniseroot Osmorhiza longistylis, are similar. Check the stems, Sweet Cicely will be covered in hairs.

Aniseroot stems will be smooth. Both these species smell like licorice when scratched, but Aniseroot has the stronger odor, especially in the roots.

Spirea shrub in bloom. Ornamentals can add beauty to a landscape, and I have no problem with them, as long as they are non-invasive. This looks to be one of the many varieties of Bridal Wreath Spirea. That's a pollen feeding Scarab Beetle on the flowers.

The folks at Wahkeena Nature Preserve beat me to the post. I started this a long time ago, just finishing now. There is a reason for that, but I'll discuss it at the end of this. Some of the Rhododendrons are now in bloom, and I went to check them out while I could. This is commonly referred to as the Mountain Azalea, Rhododendron canescens I believe.

I used to find this in the panhandle of Florida. The native range is south of Ohio. For those who use the Newcomb flower book, there are three similar plants discussed on the page. All three are now considered the same species.

The red striped buds of the Flame Azalea, Rhododendron calendulaceum, were just popping out while I was there.

Early blooming flowers start as yellowish. Besides the color, the long protruding stamens add to the striking appearance.

In a very short time, all the flowers turn a brilliant orange. Flame Azalea is considered native to parts of southern Ohio, but it's rare to find them growing wild this far north.

"In your face Fonzie".

"Stick it in your ear Potsie". Happy Days are here again. Finals are over, and you'd think I'd be in the field everyday. I don't mean to be a downer, but all year people have asked me "What's wrong with your eyes?" I looked like I just got up, no matter the time of day. Some probably thought I was always stoned. HA!

All joking aside, I have been to Columbus a lot lately, and have been diagnosed with a very rare form of dysplasia in my eye. This is why I haven't been posting. Turns out pathology says it is metaplasia, less serious, and NO carcinoma cells present. Still, a little 'snip snip' here and a 'snip snip' there, that's how they work the day away in the merry old land of OSU. They got it all, so all is well again in the land of Oz.

My favorite phrase from a doctor, "we caught it early". Recovery is a pain, feels like ground glass in my eye. Considering there was no cancer, I'll be fine. Can't wait to start 'snapping' photos again, but it may be awhile.