Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Fall Colors

Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum) and Tiny Spider in the Native Plant Garden
It has been raining here on and off for over a week and while I appreciate that we need the water, I have had a terrible case of cabin fever. I was so sick of gray skies and wet weather. What a relief when I looked outside this morning and saw blue sky and sun! It seemed like a perfect day to go to the State Botanical Garden of Georgia and scout around the native plant garden and the wildflowers growing along the power line easement.

Bee-Fly on Goldenrod
Very Hairy Fly on Goldenrod
Hungry Carpenter Bee on Yellow Crownbeard

Bright yellow swaths of Goldenrod, Camphor Weed and Golden Crown Beard dominated the sunny, open space and the hungry insects fed furiously. Days of rain had kept them from their primary tasks of eating and reproduction. They had to make up lost ground.

Buckeye on Yellow Crownbeard

Mating Fritillaries

At the edges, tall purple Ironweed beckoned to starving skippers.

Silver Spot Skipper on Ironweed

Another Skipper on Ironweed

Down below, tiny Eastern Tailed Blue butterflies the size of my thumbnail danced on the grass, while further down the path a giant Praying Mantis, nearly 5 inches long, swayed back and forth as it tried to focus on its catch. I kept distracting it and it would look at me disapprovingly. I have seen so many mantids since moving here!

Eastern Tailed Blue in the Grass

Praying Mantis 

In the wildflower understory, smaller plants provided additional color and nectar, as well as perches for dragonflies, grasshoppers and a doomed Tussock Moth Caterpillar, parasitized by a wasp.
Pearl Crescent Butterfly on Blue Mistflower

Blue Faced Meadowhawk Dragonfly

Tussock Moth Caterpillar with Wasp Larvae Cocoons

Just about everywhere I looked there was movement and color. What a contrast to the past week!

Gulf Fritillary on Crownbeard

Liatris sp.

I saw bright colored grasses and berries and watched the yellow leaves fall from tall trees. More signs of fall presented in the form of the dried summer flowers. Cotton Puffs of Fireweed seeds hung on dried stems. Spiky thistles. Soft fuzz on Pluchea. Brown River Oats.

American Burnweed (Erechtites hieraciifolius)

Thistle Head (Cirsium sp.)

Fuzzy Pluchea

Dangling River Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium)

At the end of my trip I felt like I'd been treated to a spa session. Nothing lifts the doldrums like blue skies, sunshine and nature's beauty.

Button Asters