Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sun and Sand

It was, today, beautiful -- sunny, breezy, warm-not-hot. Rough blazing star is now in full bloom, making the sandy prairie areas at the beach just lovely.

Here, resting in a sheltered area among them, is a viceroy. You can tell the difference between the two both by the smaller size -- which is subjective but was what actually gave it away on this one -- and by the pattern on the lower wings. The viceroy has a black line that runs consistently across the middle of them (faint but present in this specimen); the monarch does not. The viceroy is well known for being a mimic of the monarch, capitalizing on the fact that monarchs, from munch-munch-munching on milkweed, taste nasty to predators. It's commonly used as an example in learning about adaptations... but it turns out, the viceroy is pretty bad-tasting itself. Its larval host plant is the willow, which is filled with a delicious chemical called acetylsalicylic acid... also found in aspirin, which is about how it tastes. Delish!

And speaking on milkweed munchers... here's another. The milkweed tossock moth, as an adult, is kind of a plain and boring grayish moth. But as a caterpillar, it is fuzzy and at least somewhat colorful. These two here were the second and third I've seen this week.

Here, a downy false foxglove... well, I think it's downy, but I didn't take pictures of the stem and leaves, so I'm going on memory and what little you can see back there... provides a lovely burst of yellow in the forest. These plants are parasitic on the roots of oak trees. Crazy... it doesn't look like most parasitic plants I can think of!

It was very wavy today!


  1. Hi Naomi,
    While I usually only read your blog, about once a week I just wanted to share something with you today. Now that we are in Arkansas we are seeing creatures that we are not used to seeing. The other day we saw a most unusual flying creature. Morgan thought it was a hummingbird and Brian thought it was a moth. Guess what? In a way they were both right as it was a White-lined Sphinx Hummingbird Moth. I don't recall ever seeing anything like it in my life. It was so interesting to watch. I wished I had a camera but we found some really great shots on the internet. I'm including a link to a picture of one that looked identical to the one we saw in my mother's yard.

    Hope everything is going well for your guys. The wedding was wonderful. Brian and Morgan are still talking about it. :) What a perfect day too! Take care and our love to you both.


  2. Yeah, technically, we're in the range of hummingbird moths, but I can't remember ever seeing one in Illinois, only further south. I'm glad you made such a cool discovery, and I hope you all are settling into your new place! -- N