Monday, August 9, 2010

More Flowers and Insects

Several species of Tick Trefoils are actively producing their sticky seed pods. The pods attach to whatever animal happens to brush against them. As the animal continues its wandering, the clinging pod breaks apart and allows the seed to fall free. In this way the seeds get scattered far from the parent plant. I think the greatest collector of Tick Trefoil seeds is a pair of denim jeans. I may have spent as much time last fall cleaning pods from my clothes as I did actually out walking. This year’s crop of pods looks to be even larger.

Japanese Beetles as strongly attracted to the Tick Trefoils. Most of the heavy predation occurs late in the year after the plant has produced its crop of seeds. Since Japanese Beetles are such a pest on cultivated Roses, I would expect them to vigorously consume the Multiflora Rose. I rarely see this beetle on any of the wild rose species.

Here’s another hairy seed pod, but this one doesn’t stick. This is Hairy Milk Pea, Galactia volubilis, one of the uncommon species found here. The plant will create a long vine that twines its way through the tall prairie grasses.

The yellow spikes of Agrimony flowers are everywhere. These blooms are favored by small bees and flies who do an excellent job of pollination. The little yellow flowers are quite attractive and would be considered a nice landscape plant if viewed at this stage.

This is why most people avoid growing Agrimony in their flower gardens. The seed capsules develop a mass of stiff projections, each tipped with a fish hook type structure that’s designed to hold on to animal fur for a ride to a new growing location. When one seed capsule is snagged by a passing animal, the rest of the willowy plant whips over and leaves long rows of seed capsules attached to, let’s say the animal’s shirt. It’s things like this that cause my clothes to be washed in a separate load. Sometimes it’s hard to find where all of these seeds have hidden and no one in my family appreciates finding things I’ve collected in the field hiding somewhere in their freshly cleaned outfit.

This is a member of the family of Long-legged Flies, most likely a Condylostylus species. There are several species of these flies and most of them can be described as tiny and shiny. Most are predators on even smaller insects and spend their time sitting on the upper surface of leaves as they watch for prey items to fly by. I usually spot them as they sparkle in the sunlight.

I’m still seeing above average numbers of butterflies. I usually only see one or two Red-spotted Purples each year. I’ve seen dozens this year and have witnessed several mating couples.


  1. As always, an interesting post highlighting treasures most of us might overlook. I think this is the year of the butterfly, as several species have been reported in larger numbers than is the norm. Very pretty. ~karen

  2. Hi Steve...those large numbers of butterflies are not here unless it is just where I am...I sure have plenty of the right plants for them!!!Your Red Spotted photo very nice!!
    Very interesting the Agimony and the Tick Trefoils mode of travel to spread there seeds about!!...ways I might not have thought about!!
    I have learned over the year.. while weeding and digging in my gardens to identify the Japanesse Beetle stage that they are a rusty color and probably not far from ready to surface and attact some poor unsuspecting plant...and I pinch them between my fingers...but you have to be fast because those bugger "no pun intented" move fast!!
    Interesting Steve...Have a good week!!

  3. Thanks, Karen.

    grammie g - Maybe next year will be your year for butterflies. It's certainly odd that they are absent in your area. If I could make some head your way, I would certainly do that.