Monday, July 11, 2011

Odds and Ends

Thursday, while cutting food for our caterpillars at work, I found this egg case.  It was difficult to photograph because the outside was hard and shiny.  It turns out that it is the egg case of the eastern tent caterpillar. what to do?  Tent caterpillars are certainly destructive, but I believe they are a native insect, so it's hard to be totally against them.

Meanwhile, our search continues for monarch eggs and larvae.  It's been a poor year so far for monarchs.  These things tend to go in cycles, but down years are always so sad.  The wee caterpillar I brought in perished, and so did one of the two older ones we had.  The survivor, however has become a crysalis, so we are very happy about that.

We were even happier when Carrie (one of our naturalists) found these three monarch eggs out in the Children's garden.

Monarch eggs are very small - it takes a good eye to find them.

My walks along the roadside have turned up another new plant!  This one is a wild four o'clock, which took us quite some time to ID.  It's another native (whoo-hoo!) and is rather lovely.  In some areas this plant can become a weed, probably because it does so well in dry, sandy soils.

It's gotta be summer, for the chickory is blooming!

All around this area we have wild grapes.  Dare I compare it to kudzu?  Wild grape vines are draped over almost every surface:  trees, shrubs, and even just the ground.  They are native, so that's a plus, and it means the fruits are good for our native birds.  And, it turns out there is more than one variety of wild grape out there.  This one, I think, is summer grape, but I need to go and take a closer look at it to be sure.

I finally found some saint johnswort!  I was looking for this plant last month to use for my summer solstice walk, but could I find even one?  Nooooo.  Now, however, it seems to be blooming everywhere.  Apparently no one told the plants here in Michigan that they are supposed to bloom for the summer solstice.


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