Nature Notes

Inescapable Colors

By Boak Wiesner

“Blazing in gold and quenching in purple” certainly described well the edges of the Ordway Prairie. Goldenrod, Sunflowers, and at least two shades of purple of New England Asters greeted me on maybe the last hot day of the year. Emily Dickinson sure knew her stuff.

The red leaves of a Pagoda Dogwood drew me in as their deep red offers such a contrast to the otherwise gold and purple. A closer look yielded an unexpected treasure: a small spider had spun its web in the dished area of the folded leaf.

DSC_0185Next to the dogwood, I noticed that some of the leaves of Milkweed leaves that had gone yellow were eaten along the edges. I thought it a little late to be Monarchs just hatching out. Turning the leaf over, voila!, Milkweed Tussock Moth caterpillars. These colorful little guys will metamorphose into rather small, drab, white moth soon.

DSC_0207Collecting pollen on an aster was a Common Honeybee. That she can fly at all with all that pollen to carry is wonderful to behold!

DSC_0269Another bee caught my eye but wait! Look again, it’s a fly. How can one tell? It only has two wings – most insects have four. It’s a Bee Mimic Fly. A rather straightforward naming I’d have to say.

DSC_0251A Grasshopper was resting on what was left of the inflorescence of a Sunflower. Petals don’t have nearly as much nutritional value as do leaves, so this little orthopteran wasn’t eating, just basking in the sun.

DSC_0317Boak Wiesner is a Minnesota Naturalist Volunteer

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