The Ninth Annual Day of Insects

Yesterday and Friday I went to the Ninth Annual Day of Insects, hosted by Reiman Gardens in Ames, Iowa.

I have posted about this event in the past, but it keeps getting better and better.  This event is about insect enthusiasts, conservationists, and naturalists all getting together and sharing their work.  There are some professional entomologists in the group (a very small percentage), but most people are only hobbyists.  Some are photographers, some manage urban or rural habitats on private property, some manage habitats on public property.  Many are educators in schools or in conservation organizations.  Some raise insects–collecting galls on plants to see what comes out, for example.

“Day” of insects might be a little bit misleading, because it has turned into at least a day and a half for people who are so inclined.  The main event consists of different insect enthusiasts  giving 15 minute talks about subjects that interest them.  Friday this year we had some longer workshops, and they were all good.  Here, M.J. and Anita are talking to us about how to raise insects.

Elieen and Lloyd gave a workshop about spiders and harvestmen.

This year there were about 150 people in attendance.   Think about it–150 people willing to pay a small fee to attend talks about insects.  Not “how to get rid of insects,” but how to conserve them.

I totally enjoyed myself, and I think most people there did also.  This is a very special event.  Thanks to all who helped to organize it, but especially Nathan, M.J., and Anita.  You folks are awesome.

Of course, while there I had the opportunity to tour the butterfly wing.  Since it was cloudy and rainy outside there was not as much activity inside as there could have been.

This atlas moth was magnificent.

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Spring has Retreated

I was very happy to see the crocus bloom last week.  But the warm weather that helped the crocus bloom quickly turned cold.  We had about an inch of snow, most of which melted.  It is still cold, and we expect to get about three more inches of snow tonight.

The crocus still have their petals, but they are not really blooming anymore.

There is still a little bit of snow on the ground, even in places where it has mostly melted.  And of course, there is more to come.

This moss on an elm tree stump is anticipating spring.  The small reddish “shoots” will soon develop into spore capsules, making identification a little easier.

This icicle hangs down from the stem of a multi-floral rose.

We had a taste of spring, and the weather forecasters predict that the warm weather (at least warmer than now) will be back by the end of this week.  Until then, we will hunker down by the wood stove.

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Spring has Sprung (for now)

We had some very warm weather that made the crocus bloom.  I looked for it yesterday, and it was not blooming then.

The wind is blowing very hard right now, and we will get thunderstorms (and maybe worse) in an hour or so.

So I enjoy the color for now.  Who knows what will happen to these flowers in the storm.

And  winter could be back soon.  It is March in Iowa.

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Another lichen

I found this unusual lichen on a pine tree in our yard.  I need to remember to look for it after rain to see what it looks like then.

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I looked through my lichen book and tried to figure out what it is by photos.  I don’t know. I guess I am going to have to wade through the keys.

But not tonight…

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Wet Tree Watch

It is that time of the year, or at least almost that time of year.  Watch for wet trees.

Here in Iowa most of the trees are deciduous.  The leaves fell from the branches last year, and the sap is starting to flow.  There can be wounds in the bark or near the branches–caused by wind, heavy snow, even mammals like fox squirrels.  When that happens, sap flows down the tree trunks.

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These small holes were caused by a sapsucker (a small woodpecker).

Insects, including butterflies, are attracted to the sap.

I should note that it is extremely rare to see wild butterflies in February in Iowa.  But it did happen last year.  And I think it could happen this year, also.  Possibly as early as this Friday, if the forecast is to believed.

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So if you see a wet tree trunk, look closely.  You just might see a butterfly.  Mourning cloaks and eastern commas are the most likely.

 

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A Few Random Photos

I wandered around today with my camera and took a few photos.  It was a warm day, although we are still in winter.  Most of the snow is gone, but some remains and the ground is saturated.

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In a roadside ditch next to our house we have a large patch of Equisetum–snake grass as the locals call it.  It has died back for the winter, although it still remains green.

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On the other side of the ditch some of the ground was exposed, showing mosses that will be invisible during the growing season for the vascular plants that take over in the summer.

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A little further up the road is a patch of cattails.  This is a seed head that is starting to fall apart.

No butterflies or other bugs out that I could see.  They should be out in a few weeks though, and maybe some flowers as well.

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I Can’t Walk Past a Puddle….

…without taking a picture.

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This was on a sidewalk in our yard.  I wasn’t all that happy with the result but I did enjoy the experience.  I got the knees of my jeans wet and muddy, and I loved it!

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Winter Trees and a Spider

We have been having some unusual winter weather lately.   Warmer than normal (but of course still cool–it is January here in Iowa) and very wet.

Walking on the lawn is an adventure.  The ground is frozen, but there is a little layer of water on top of the ground, soaking the grass.  It was not raining, yet the trees had drops of water from the fog hanging from the branches.

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I also found a tiny spider today.

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Today’s Ramblings

We had a sunny day today, not too cold.  I had the day off and I walked around the lawn and the prairie patch and took a few photos.

I found a common milkweed and photographed it against the sky.  I used fill flash, which almost bleaches out the colors.  Natural light might have been better, but I sort of like this look as well.

This small tomato-like berry is a horse-nettle.

This is a similar plant, the ground cherry.

The multifloral rose that grows in an increasing impenetrable mass by our shed seems to have been fooled by the unusual weather, and grown some small leaves that are dead.

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Lichen Christmas

We are having very unusual weather for Christmas.  Rain, lightning, thunder, and temperatures predicted to be as high as 50 degrees F.

During a gap in the rain I went outside and took a photo of a lichen.  Nothing rare, just one growing on old farm metal.12-25-160015

They become spectacular after a rain.

So this is my Christmas greeting.  If you haven’t seen the beauty, look for it.

Merry Christmas.

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