Saturday, December 31, 2022

The Rest of 2022, Part IV: Insects and Plants

Whew, I guess I did have a lot to share from 2022, since this is the fourth post wrapping up this year's sightings from our property. But really, this is what I get for letting things pile up since March. In any case, here are some final assorted highlights from 2022, featuring insects (and spiders) and plants!

The first significant wave of spring flowers always makes me very happy, and our show started in late April this year. I was especially happy to see flowers that I've planted in front of our house in recent years (mostly thanks to our local native plant nurseries!). A small bee was enjoying these Bloodroot flowers on April 24 as much as I was:

Nearby, the Wild Ginger I planted last year was opening its first flowers at ground level:

And I was super excited to see the first flower buds on a Virginia Bluebells plant that had been in the ground here for a couple of years and that I was starting to think might never bloom:

Here are the Virginia Bluebells on May 7, open and accepting pollinators:

On May 12, I finally identified the spider species that builds intricate double-layered webs throughout our meadow every year as a Bowl and Doily Spider (Frontinella pyramitela); what a cool creature:

And here's the meadow lit-up with Bowl and Doily Spider webs on May 16:

I've been so happy to see the meadow's progress over the past few years, since we needed to have some excavation done in late 2017 and scattered a mix of native seeds over the disturbed portion. This year, the meadow settled into basically three waves of dominant flowering plants (with other species joining the show to a lesser extent). Beautiful Wild Lupine (Lupinus perennis) took the first wave, and here's the lupine-filled meadow on May 30:

By late July, Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) was the star, casting a pale purple wash over the meadow (the gradually increasing presence of Common Milkweed also helped); here's the same portion of the meadow on July 28:

September is the time of goldenrods and asters here, and goldenrod in particular turned the meadow overall golden this year; this is a view from a different point in the meadow on September 4, but this view was similar in other parts of the meadow as well:

I will be very curious to see how the meadow progresses in future years. I mostly expect the goldenrod to take over from other plants, but who knows, perhaps the lupine and bergamot will be able to hold their own and continue to add their waves of color in future years as well. We'll see!

Speaking of goldenrods and asters, here's a scene from the edge of our property on September 14. Our place really is at its most decadent in September, with blankets of flowers covering every unmown surface -- what an absolute treat, and a total surprise, since those plants were all there waiting for someone to stop mowing them so they could burst into bloom:

A few other new flower combinations in the front beds made me especially happy this year. Here's amazing Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) with Whorled Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum verticillatum var. pilosum) and Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana) peeking in on the side, all blooming profusely on July 27:

And here's Brown-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba) together with Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum) on September 10:

I so love adding plant diversity to our yard, and the pollinators seem to like it, too. I plan to keep expanding and diversifying in future years!

Jumping over to insects, here's a dragonfly in the yard on June 11, an aptly named Dot-tailed Whiteface:

We found this Maple Spanworm caterpillar (Ennomos magnaria) pretending to be a stick on the mailbox on June 16:

Is that an incredible stick mimic or what? It looked especially at home when I put it on a Silver Maple twig (one of its many food plants):

I planted some Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea) in the front flower bed last year, and this year a whole bunch of American Lady caterpillars (Vanessa virginiensis) showed up to munch on the leaves and developing buds. These caterpillars are cool and the butterflies are pretty, but they also ate a lot of the plant, so if they show up again next year I'll likely relocate most of them:

Purple-flowering Raspberry (Rubus odoratus) is a native plant that already had a strong foothold in a semi-shaded area near our house when we moved in, and it's continued to expand in this area in recent years; these pictures are from June 23:

I love this plant's crinkled purple flowers:

I still haven't been able to identify the species of fritillary butterflies we have in our yard every year, but this individual was looking especially pretty on July 17 on Purple Coneflower:

A few Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars grew nice and big on our Spicebush plants this year; here's a big caterpillar with its fancy eyespots sheltering in a leaf on July 28:

I also saw a bunch of Black Swallowtail caterpillars this year, both on wild Queen Anne's Lace plants and on my fennel and dill plants in the garden. Here's a big fennel-munching individual on August 17:

And here are a couple of caterpillars on Queen Anne's Lace on August 21:

It's hard for me to pass up an opportunity to take pictures of Hummingbird Clearwing moths, even though these fancy moths are quite common on our property in the summer. They're just so cool. This moth was enjoying a patch of Garden Phlox flowers on August 7:

And this individual was feasting from New York Ironweed (another relatively recent addition in our front flower beds) on September 3:

I love the Ironweed's super curly bits in this next picture:

These Gray Dogwood berries were looking especially pretty on their pink stems on August 26:

Also on August 26, I found this cute baby White Pine in the meadow, surrounded by seedheads of what I'm pretty sure is Wild Basil (Satureja vulgaris):

Here's a backlit view of Wild Basil seedheads on October 14 -- these plants are common throughout the meadow:

In the woods, a few Wild Basil plants were still flowering:

Our White Ash trees are gradually being eaten by Emerald Ash Borer, but this year nearly all of the trees on our property had a big crop of seeds; here's a picture of the seeds on otherwise bare branches on October 14:

Also on October 14, I admired the gorgeous colors of American Hazelnut leaves, with next year's catkins and buds also in view:

In the woods, fallen White Pine needles had turned the surface of the little pond golden:

This falling needle had enough force to punch through a yellowing beech leaf:

Meanwhile, the Virginia Creeper vines that cover the trees on the edge of our woods had dropped their leaves but were still holding on to brilliant pink stems, making the tree trunks look like they'd sprouted some weird pink growth:

And for one last burst of color in this post, here's a Six-spotted Tiger Beetle that was hiding in our front yard on October 29, until I exposed its sandy hiding place under a rock:

And those are some highlights from 2022! Happy new year! Perhaps I'll manage to post more frequently in 2023. :)

1 comment:

  1. Your meadow is looking great! Fascinating to watch over both the seasons and the years.