Spicebush Swallowtail larva exposed – it stays hidden inside a folded Spicebush leaf, pulled tight by a silken web.
Another summer’s worth of images are piling up, and as usual I can’t work the best of them into just one blog post. Besides, no matter what story line I come up with, sometimes the best story is just a picture. So here goes – the summer of 2019 in one little forest – the visual edition.
(For maximum viewing enjoyment go full screen, I try to make my images high quality.)
Spicebush larva at an earlier stage. Except for the eyespots, young swallowtail larvae look more like bird poop than caterpillars.
Thanks to a quickly increasing Spicebush understory, its namesake butterfly is very abundant in the forest.
There’s plenty for butterflies, bees and hummingbirds to nectar on, with this year’s bumper crop of Pale Jewelweed coming into bloom.
Forest fruits ripening at this season – Green dragon (above) and Elderberry (below).
Planting and encouraging a diversity of fruit bearing native shrubs is part of the plan to reduce recurrence of non-native invasive plants.
Box turtles help disperse seed, particularly of ground level fruits like Mayapple, Jack in the Pulpit, and Green dragon. I met this female with unusually bright eyes right on the trail.
Ironweed is just coming into bloom, surrounded by River oats in this sunny gap on the Red Maple trail
The Hackberry emperor, a common butterfly whose larval host is Hackberry. Butterflies have been more abundant in the forest than any previous year I recall. A greater diversity of larval food plants and flowering pollinator plants, and this summer’s weather conditions have all helped.
The tiny flowers of Late Figwort, with Joe Pye weed in the background. These two figworts were transplanted into this gap in early spring; the maroon flowers are nectar-rich and highly attractive to pollinators.
More pollinators can support more predators, such as the Wheelbug, which injects a toxin that liquifies the prey’s innards. It then drinks the meal with a long curved proboscis.
A female Luna moth was dangling near the trail one morning; she’s the first I’ve seen in this forest.
A four inch long cocoon spun by a Cecropia, the largest north american moth.
The Cecropia cocoon was concealed in a Greenbrier thicket, another reason to encourage such protective tangles.
It’s not all good news on the restoration front; the super-fast-growing invasive vine Porcelainberry is also on the increase. The leaves resemble native grapevine but are more deeply lobed.
Porcelainberry quickly takes over sunny sites, growing up and over every plant in its path, and pulling down young trees.
Dense cluster of River oats growing from seed in a sunny gap.The best strategy to reduce Porcelainberry and other invasive plants is a very diverse, dense, layered native plant community with plenty of native grasses.
On shadier, moist sites the tall perennial Virginia jumpseed forms a dense protective groundcover.
Jumpseed, Pennsylvania smartweed, and Clearweed quickly colonize a soggy trailbed abandoned one year ago.
Parting shot – this may be a Sycamore moth caterpillar, though the images I based my ID on had more reddish tufts. If you know what it is please share.