I’m a day late with my weekly miscellaneous wrap-up. We had some internet issues yesterday that took most of the day to sort out, which prevented me from doing anything online. It’s somewhat eye-opening to see just how much time is spent on the internet – or how much one relies on it for reference – by way of how inconvenienced one is when it’s no longer available.
The forest has completely greened up over the last few weeks, and the landscape around here is very much beginning to resemble the high-summer state that we first saw it in when we arrived last summer. It’s beginning to look like we’ll be moving at the beginning of July, not quite a month shy of the date we moved in last year. I have to admit, I am really going to miss being on the water. This house has spoiled me, and despite having spent the first 96% of my life not on waterfront, I suddenly feel like I can’t bear to move away from it. However, our prospective new house reminds me a lot of where I grew up, and I’m sure I’ll feel right at home there, too, once we’re moved and settled.
Our landlord came by this afternoon to mow the lawn, which Dan and I had been dutifully ignoring. We have no lawnmower, in part because we both prefer to have long-grassed “meadows” rather than lawns, which are much more beneficial to wildlife. I personally think they’re more interesting to look at than a mowed lawn, too. However, long grass does have a certain unkempt feel that can put off many prospective house-buyers. I was a bit sad to see it mowed, because the wildflowers in it were just starting to appear and bloom. One of the first to come out were these Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium) flowers. If everyone’s lawn turned into these when left to grow, do you think anyone would mow it?
Our neighbour up the lake started some seeds indoors this winter, and was extremely generous, sharing some of her extras with me for my “garden”. Among the plants she gave me were these johnny jump-ups, members of the violet family (the common name has been applied to a number of species, but I think these are probably Viola tricolor). They’re just beginning to bloom, the first one opened yesterday. As I was inspecting the plants one day earlier this week, something caught my eye. Can you see it?
It’s a cluster of small, pale green eggs. I assume these are lepidopteran eggs, but what species, or even whether moth or butterfly, I don’t know. There are a few species that feed on violets as caterpillars – several species of fritillary target violets exclusively, for instance, or the Giant Leopard Moth which we saw caterpillars of around here last fall. I’m planning to let them hatch, and then when the caterpillars come out moving them into another container with some violet leaves and seeing if they’ll eat those. If so, I’ll try to raise them that way; if not, I guess I’ll reluctantly give them back (some of) my johnny jump-ups. Hopefully the plants will have grown up a bit more by then.
I spotted this Goldenrod Crab Spider, Misumena vatia, “hiding” out among the flowers of my Allium. It was so well hidden, it immediately caught my eye when I looked at the flowers (as I do every day to admire them). I’m not sure she was having any luck in catching anything, as I never saw her with a meal… but given that she doesn’t make a web, perhaps she ate at other times of the day.
Speaking of eating… Last weekend I bought some Japanese Lanterns, Physalis alkekengi, perennials that produce really neat orange “paper” seed pods in the fall. I remember, growing up, my mom used to have a patch that we’d sometimes collect the “lanterns” from for flower arrangements. I always really liked them, so when I stumbled across them in the nursery I couldn’t resist buying a pack. When I got home I planted them into a nice big pot and set them in the sun. As I do with all my plants, every day I’d check on them to see how they were doing. A few days ago I noticed they had been found by a few beetles, who were sitting in a nook in the leaves. I didn’t think much of it, until yesterday I noticed that holes were starting to appear in the leaves. Hey! Those are my plants! Sure enough, it turns out the beetles (left) are Three-lined Potato Beetles, Lema daturaphila. They favour plants in the family Solanaceae. And guess what family Japanese Lanterns belong to? I’m debating whether to just let them munch, or to try to remove them (repeatedly; I assume they’ll return). So far the damage seems to be restricted to just a couple of leaves on a couple of plants.
With him is a Clavate Tortoise Beetle, Plagiometriona clavata. There are also two of these on my little plants. They also eat plants of the Solanaceae. Now it’s starting to get a bit crowded…
This morning Dan and I went out to do a bit of final site scouting for the first of our three MAPS stations, Hemlock Lake. Although it wasn’t strictly necessary for me to tag along (I won’t really be “needed” until the actual banding begins, whereupon you really need two people in order to operate efficiently and safely), I chose to come so I could help out a bit, but also so that I could do a bit of early-morning birding. I so rarely get up at dawn these days, by the time I’m awake and going, the birdsong is starting to slow down for the day. I take Raven out later in the afternoon usually, hardly the best time of day for birding.
It turned out to be an unusually quiet morning, possibly because it was also a rather cool morning by recent standards. However, we did still encounter a good variety of nice species, including the Chestnut-sided Warbler, above, and the Northern Waterthrush, below, both of whom will be breeding at the site this summer. Who knows, in a few weeks these guys may even be sporting a shiny new band.