Saturday, August 27, 2011

Fu Manchu bottlebrush caterpillar, jewelweed gall midge, alien spacecraft, and impending hurricanes

Have I mentioned recently that I, Ms. No Discernible Income, recently went back to work after a self-imposed two-year hiatus? That’s right, I’m working, part-time, at a top-secret entity whose details I will not reveal, except for to say that we have a veritable shitload of yogurt in our fridge these days at any given time. Pardon my French.
This past week was my third week on the job. Remind me of how people do this whole work thing? I know, I know, cue the violins, shut up, Sarah. But seriously, it’s been a rough adjustment: not being able to dawdle with the camera for an hour or so each day, and then spend two or three hours doing research on my discoveries and tagging my photos and blogging about it – you might not realize it, but this wee little odyssey of a dilettante naturalist takes quite a bit of time
Today I divided said time between getting ready for our overnight guest – that would be Irene – and aggressively puttering around and goofing off.
Home is where the heart is.
We’ve cleared the decks, literally – Kevin took down the portable screened-in-porch, and I dealt with the deck furniture. We have garbage cans set up under the eaves to catch rainwater (we don’t have gutters, and recently figured out that something like 25% of our roof run-off ends up in the corner between the bump-out and the bulkhead, where it subsequently sneaks in down the bulkhead’s (presumably eroding) foundation and from there, into the basement. (Not for nothing did Santa Claus bring us a shop vac for Christmas.) Flashlights, batteries, water, food…I think we’ll be OK. Gulp. Oh, and I went for my run, since tomorrow’s not going to happen. It was supposed to be a nine-miler, but I think…heavy sigh…I think I may need to re-think the next half-marathon, and let my plantar fascia sprain and concomitant (you read right, I used “concomitant” in a sentence) ankle discomfort heal up.
Onwards to the report. There’s a lot to report. Go grab a snack, you’ll be here a while.
The anemones have long gone to seed, and now those seeds are starting to be dispersed.
Anemone canadensis on July 13…
…and today. This appears to be the classic “eat me and poop” strategy.
P1130185 P1140431
Anemone virginiana on August 5…
…and today. Oh cool, a totally different game plan for this one: wind dispersal.
I got a better look at the opened up flowers of tall blue lettuce (Lactuca biennis), first seen here the other day
I love that this plant, which can grow to 12 freakin’ feet high, but has flowers no larger than a quarter inch wide, is named for the color of the tips of its tiny, wee stamens. Speaking of tall lettuce, here’s tall white lettuce (Prenanthes altissima).
It was already going to seed, which tells you how little I’ve been able to get out and about with the camera, but fortunately I found a few flowers still open:

At long last, some of the False Solomon’s Seal berries are really, truly, turning red:

Nearby, I found Mr. Fu Manchu Bottlebrush Caterpillar hanging out.
I am informed that his real name is Halysidota tessellaris - Banded Tussock Moth – but I like my name better, duh.
And now, let’s play with the jewelweed (Impatiens capensis).
Here’s one that’s obviously preggers – see how the uvula-like dangly bit at the top is getting fat? I am REALLY looking forward to documenting how this is going to turn into a seed. I’ve seen some seeds already, but I haven’t (damn this “working for a living” B.S.!) found the time to scout out all the intermediate stages. I will, though.
I did, however, have time to suss out something that I’d been curious about since I first saw it on August 8th: a weird huge jewelweed bud? leaf? that had clearly been appropriated by some other life process.
Trust me, this is not a normal jewelweed thing. I pinched it off and took it home to do a little home surgery.
Dum – dum – Dah!!!
Little orange larvae! Excellent! One of them woke up and started exploring, whereupon I promptly filmed him.

After some digging around, I learned that this is probably the larva of a gall midge, Schizomyia impatientis. I love how they are as orange as the plant’s flowers. How cool is that?
I wandered down toward the mailbox, across the meadow, and checked in on the plantain (Plantago major). Many have gone to seed, but a few are still flowering.
This one has only the white bits. Stigma?
Others have both the white, and the purple (stamen?), bits.

Here’s an alien spacecraft disguised as a longjawed orbweaver, hanging out on a stalk of plantain.
Next door, here’s a type of marsh fly:
By the way, I don’t know a thing about bugs. These ID’s are brought to you by the incredible nerds (and that’s a good thing) at
I checked in one more time on a jack-in-the-pulpit on the streambank:
Looking good.
OK, the sky is darkening up. Here we go, campers. See you on the other side.

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