Little Riddles of Nature

I went to Medora Prairie today, with a plan to photograph butterflies and any other type of critter I might find.  I walked out onto the prairie and saw that the butterfly milkweed was in bloom all over.  An eastern tiger swallowtail flew onto the prairie and found the milkweed.

There was a little mystery regarding the butterfly milkweed, however.  Except for the swallowtail, other pollinators were not visiting it.  It was in full bloom all over the prairie, and butterflies were just not visiting it, nor were bees, flies, or other insects.  There were plenty of butterflies on the prairie however.  Plenty of great spangled fritillaries and pearl crescents, among others.  I have seen butterfly milkweed loaded with butterflies, but not today.

The common milkweed that was on the access road was a different story.  It was in full bloom, and had a fragrance that could be detected from several feet away.  The common milkweed was in full bloom.

Banded hairstreaks were easy to locate, and I was lucky enough to see two on the same cluster of flowers for a short time.  There were also bees, flies, and soldier beetles visiting the flowers.

I find the small bee flies to be especially charming.

I saw this brief interaction briefly.  I think the flies are Physocephala tibialis, a thick-headed fly.  I got two photos of about the same thing before the took off and I lost sight of them.  The haltares (the little white dot things that are the vestigial hind wings) were twitching in kind of a hypnotic motion.  I think this was some kind of pre-mating behavior, but it could also have been some kind of aggression.

A muddy area in the middle of the prairie had several visitors, including this male pearl crescent.

If you really pay attention, you can come up with lots of questions about nature.  Sometimes there is an answer, but often the answers only bring more questions.


About the roused bear

Nature photographer from central Iowa.
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