August 8, 2013 at 6:10 am (botany, insects (other), mammals, plant-eating insects)
Tags: Hibiscus palustris, Liatris pycnostachya, Mayslake, Monarda fistulosa, Mydas tibialis, Polites themistocles, prairie, prairie blazing star, Ratibida pinnata, swamp rose mallow, tawny-edged skipper, white-tailed deer, wild bergamot, yellow coneflower
by Carl Strang
Between trips to Indiana for parental care, and vacation days for research, I haven’t spent as much time as usual in Mayslake Forest Preserve. Life goes on there, of course, and I have some glimpses to share.
This summer’s deer have been more secretive than usual. This doe, photographed at the beginning of July, showed no signs of nursing.
However, she sometimes has accompanied another doe, and this week I saw tracks of a fawn, which I expect to encounter at some point.
There have been a few tawny edged skippers this year, a species I have seen at Mayslake before but not in most years.
A new species for the preserve list was Mydas tibialis, a large and impressive, flower-visiting fly discovered at Mayslake by Nikki Dahlin.
The rains of spring and early summer, along with the prairie burns, have resulted in Mayslake’s prairies blooming with unprecedented beauty.
The first swamp rose mallow I have seen blooming on the preserve.
Prairie blazing stars are just now peaking.
Banks of yellow coneflowers and wild bergamot are providing gorgeous backdrops.
June 21, 2013 at 6:18 am (dragonflies and damselflies, insects (other), plant-eating insects)
Tags: Bombus auricomus, Carolina saddlebags, eastern amberwing, Erynnis baptisiae, foxglove beard tongue, Lestes rectangularis, Mayslake, Penstemon digitalis, Perithemis tenera, Polites themistocles, slender spreadwing, tawny-edged skipper, Tramea carolina, wild indigo dusky wing
by Carl Strang
We’re at the edge of summer, and bees and butterflies and Odonata are center stage. Skippers have been appearing at flowers.
Earlier in the season there were wild indigo dusky wings. This is one of the skippers that typically rest with wings open.
This week a new skipper appeared in Mayslake’s main prairie. This is one that closes the wings at least part way, and had practically no detail beneath.
With the wings partly open there clearly is some color on the leading edge of the forewing, and small groups of dots. It appears to be a tawny-edged skipper.
Carolina saddlebags have been one of our more consistent early season dragonflies.
The violet forehead is just visible in this back-lit individual.
So far the only spreadwing damselflies I have seen have been slender spreadwings.
Slender spreadwings continue to be common this week.
In the past few days a number of dragonflies have made their first appearances of the season.
One of the recent species is the eastern amberwing. I like the way the light projects a distorted image of this male’s wings onto the rock.
Early bumblebee colonies have begun sending out workers.
This bee was diving into the foxglove beard tongue flowers so quickly upon landing that flight photos were needed to show sufficient detail for identification. The black basal abdominal segment followed by two yellow ones is one clue. The trace of yellow on the back half of the dorsal thorax is another.
The other details are consistent with an identification of Bombus auricomus.
New insects will be emerging frequently for the next couple of months.
June 28, 2009 at 9:29 pm (insects (other))
Tags: Ancyloxypha numitor, Celastrina ladon, Epargyreus clarus, Hobomok skipper, least skipper, Mayslake, Poanes hobomok, Polites themistocles, Semiothisa bisignata, silver-spotted skipper, spring azure, tawny-edged skipper, Zanclognatha cruralis
by Carl Strang
Recently I provided an update on damselflies and dragonflies that have become active at Mayslake Forest Preserve. New butterflies and moths also have been appearing. The large group of butterflies known as skippers can be tricky, but I believe I have these right: Hobomok skipper,
and tawny-edged skipper.
Both are, according to my references, common. I have found Hobomoks in other preserves early in the season. Even more common and distinctive are two more species, the least skipper
and silver-spotted skipper, the latter never far from black locust trees.
The most recent butterfly to show itself has been the spring azure.
Moths also are in evidence. This one, Zanclognatha cruralis, belongs to a curious group whose larvae eat dead leaves.
The following moth I photographed on the slope between May’s Lake and the friary, not far from a large white pine.
This one proved to be a tough ID. There is a large group of moth species which look very much like this one. Furthermore, many of these species show considerable variation among individuals. The yellow head and anterior thorax are unusual among them, I gather, and help to narrow down the possibilities. My tentative identification is Semiothisa bisignata, the caterpillars of which eat pine needles. In the future I may need to collect one or more of them. With some insects, photographs simply aren’t enough.