Things have been hopping around the preserve this week. We have been busy with visitors and catching up on outside projects since the rain has held off. The Green frog above is enjoying a sunny basking moment.
One of those outside tasks was the annual removal of Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) from the pond and wetland areas. When I first approached the specimen below, I noticed something odd on the lower stem.
Closer examination revealed the mystery...Potter's wasp nests. This may be the work of Eumenes fraternus. The nests are made from coarse mud and grouped together...like a fraternity. Notice the flared lip on the "pot." The female wasp stocks the pot with food (caterpillars, sawfly larva, leaf beetles) then lays a single egg and closes the pot with a final daub of mud. When the egg hatches it will feed on the stored food supply.
Another unusual creature, seen below, is probably the larva of one of the green lacewings (Chrysopidae). The larva disguise themselves with bits of lichen and other debris and sometimes referred to as "trash carriers."
On the flower front, the Red or Swamp Milkweed (Ascepias incarnata) has replaced the orange milkweed and common milkweed as the dominant flowering milkweed. As the name implies, it is found in very moist environments.
Another wetland plant is Branching Bur Reed (Sparganium androcladum). This plant has male at the top and female flowers below.
Back in the woods, the sixth native orchid is blooming. The Green Wood Orchid (Habenaria clavellata) grows in the moist edge habitats along the trail.
The next and seventh orchid, just beginning to bloom, is Cranefly Orchis (Tipularia discolor) seen below. Like the Green Wood orchid above, Cranefly blooms from the bottom up. The insect, cranefly resembles a large mosquito, and the plant's name is reference to its wispy look. Like the Puttyroot orchid that bloomed earlier in May, Cranefly's single distinct leaf has withered away, leaving a naked flower stock.
Fungi continue to thrive in the moist woods. One of the coral fungi below gets its name for obvious reasons!
Off to take advantage of another sunny day!
Posted by Tom