8/22 Mostly Pictures

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.
















22 thoughts on “8/22 Mostly Pictures

  1. Anonymous

    You are doing a fine job of removing Amur honeysuckle from the Preserve! I did not even notice it on yesterday’s hike! Kudos!
    Regards. DonL.
    PS. Your articles are top flight.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. oneforestfragment

      Thank-you Don! We are actually at the point of having cut all Bush honeysuckle on preserve property, except for what’s down the steep creek banks. This will be followed by two years of herbicide foliar spraying. The USDA contract is really motivating us to get it done!


  2. shoreacres

    The Spicebush Swallowtail larva brought an out-loud laugh. It looks like a child’s toy. It was interesting to see “the same, but different” plants, too; we have different species of ironweed, for example. I found the berries of jack-in-the-pulpit recently, and had read about the Green Dragon. Apparently that can be found in east Texas, too, but I’ve yet to see it.

    Wonderful photos, all around.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. oneforestfragment

      Thank-you! In regard to the Spicebush Swallowtail larva, I cannot convince my brain they are just fake eyespots. I imagine they are pretty effective with birds. I love the Green dragon – though we see many small ones that just languish in the shade, when this plant has good soil and sunlight it can get really huge!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. tonytomeo

    Are those black elderberry?!
    I intended to win a blue ribbon this year for blue elderberry jelly. I win second place annually. However, for the first time, there are not enough berries! They ripened slowly, so were taken by the birds before big bunches of them ripened. Well, I still have my blackberry jelly and jam. Black elderberries are quarantined here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. oneforestfragment

      Well that’s interesting – Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis is the current botanical nomenclature for our elderberry, and S. nigra ssp. caerulea for the blue one. So they’re really close relatives. Why is the Black elderberry quarantined? USDA maps show nigra as native to CA, though not to Nevada or the Northwest. Red Elderberry seems botanically distinct, at least not a ssp.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. tonytomeo

        I never found information about the quarantine. It is likely because of the potential to naturalize. Nomenclature is very confusing for them. I do not think of blue elderberry as related at all, but as Sambucus caerulea and Sambucus mexicana. Sambucus mexicana has smaller leaves and grow more as a small tree. The red elderberry (which has a more limited range on top of the Santa Cruz Mountains) is a distinct species from the red elderberry that lives elsewhere.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s