My Home is my Castle

I saw these dogbane moth caterpillars the other day.


They use silk to bind some leaves together in a loose structure, then surround that area by a nearly invisible network of silk.  While I was watching, I saw a parasitic wasp (sorry, I don’t know the name of it) investigating.  I am pretty sure it would lay an egg on or in one or more of the caterpillars if it could.


While it looks like reaching the caterpillar should be an easy task, while I was watching it was not able to accomplish that goal.


I got chased away by mosquitoes after a few minutes.  I don’t know if she succeeded or if she failed, but the nest does at least provide some protection.

Posted in insects, invertebrates | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

An Aging Butterfly

I was surprised to run across this coral hairstreak, Satyrium titus, on butterfly milkweed in my prairie.  Actually, I was surprised to find the butterfly milkweed also–I had searched for it earlier in the year but had not found it.  I think I only have one plant of this lovely flower in the prairie.  I would love to have more.


We are rapidly approaching the end of the coral hairstreak flight in Iowa.  To see more we will have to wait for next year.

Posted in butterflies, invertebrates | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A Mouthful of Moth

This familiar bluet, Enallagma civile, had no trouble flying, even with a mouthful of moth.


I think the prey was one of these:   Crambus agitatellus.


I guess cuteness does not prevent you  from becoming a meal.

Posted in insects | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The Spider and the Fly

A lynx spider is consuming its prey, which is some kind of fly.


I took the photo at a little bit of an angle in order to get all of the spider in the photo.  It was mostly vertical with its rear end up.

Posted in invertebrates | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Milkweed Pollinia

I took some photos of insects on milkweed, and got a shot of this bee with the little pollen sacks that milkweeds use for pollination.


Look on the tips of the legs.

Posted in plants | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Royalty, Just Above the Mud

Yesterday I went to Medora Prairie, which is owned by The Nature Conservancy, in search of the magnificent regal fritillary,  Speyeria idalia.  I did find some, but most were where I had not expected to see them.  The limited access road just to the east of the prairie was clay saturated with water, making the walk in somewhat of an adventure.  A few regals were drinking nectar from the red sweet clover and getting water and minerals from the wet ground.


The king of butterflies, attracted to the muck.

Posted in butterflies | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Why I Live Here

There are a lot of places a person could live.  I was born in Iowa.  I have lived most of my life here.  At times I have thought about leaving–living my life elsewhere.  There are lots of nice places.

But sometimes the beauty of the place comes through.


Maybe I will move someday.

But not today.

Posted in rural scenics | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Life on a Burr Oak

Today was a very rainy day.  I was on my own and I wanted to make the most of it.  My plan was to chase butterflies, but because of the rain and overcast conditions I thought I wouldn’t happen.  But late in the afternoon it got warmer and quit raining.  I thought I would at least try.

I went to Jacob Krumm Nature Preserve, which is a Jasper County (Iowa) park near Grinnell.  The ground was soggy, and only a few very common butterflies were flying.  So I walked around and basically got skunked with my butterfly photography.

But I stopped near a burr oak tree in the shelter area.  Since everything was still wet, the lichens (at least three species) were at their most spectacular colors.  I took some photos of some of the life forms on the trunk of this tree.


I noticed this jumping spider on the trunk.  It was somewhat active, and there seemed to be several of the same species.


Another smaller spider was present as well.


There were a couple of leafhopper species present.


The fruiting body of a fungus:


At least three species of ants, including this one:


And a snail:


I think the snail is Vallonia pulchella.

This was just an evening exercise in macro photography.  I have not taken the time to try to identify all of the organisms I saw.

Seems to me someone else (maybe Alex Wild?) recently did something similar but in a lot more depth.  I did a quick search on the internet, but did not find it immediately.

It might be cool sometime to do a biological inventory on a single tree–maybe a large oak or cottonwood–to catalog all of the organisms living on it.  Maybe some one has already done it.

Could be a project in the future, though…

Posted in ants, insects, invertebrates, snails | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The Gray Copper

A butterfly named after two colors, the gray copper, Lycaena dione, has been more common this year than previously.

It is quite large for a copper–in fact, it is large for the group of butterflies called “gossamer-winged butterflies.”  There are similar-looking butterflies among the group, but all are smaller.

They have one flight period per year, and it is almost over.



Posted in butterflies | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Can You Yada Yada History?

The TV show Seinfeld had a memorable episode called “The Yada Yada.”  In the episode, a number of conversations involved a story in which a part was described with the words “yada yada, yada.”   Usually that is used to skip over some unimportant parts to a story, but in this episode, it was used to cover up some other events–sexual encounters, shoplifting, and other things.

Do we do that with our history?  The nation was expanding, we signed treaties with the Indians, yada, yada, yada, the settlers moved in.

I saw a sign at a new museum recently:

IMAG0201The museum gives some of the history of the state of Iowa.

I have an unfinished project that I have been working on, and have added some pages to my “History of the butterfly” pages.  Long term readers might know it is about the discovery of a butterfly, Oarisma poweshiek, in Iowa, and the people involved with its history, including the Mesquaki chief that the butterfly was named for.

I recently completed a section on Black Hawk.  You can find it here.

I also have a section that includes newspaper clippings from a period in 1837 when a number of Meskwaki, Sauk, and Sioux leaders visited the city of Washington to air out their grievances.  Go to this page, and follow the links on the left.

Some important details were left out.

Posted in American Indians, Black Hawk, Fox tribe, Iowa History, Meskwaki, Mesquaki | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment