Sunday, August 1, 2010

Blooms and Bugs and Berries

While walking on a trail near Lake Lonely today, I spotted a beautiful patch of bright yellow Moneywort and dropped to my knees to take a photo.

Nose to the ground, I spotted this little white rear sticking out from the underside of a Moneywort leaf.

When I flipped the leaf over, here's what I saw: a furry little white moth who just wouldn't budge. Is this not an exquisite creature, with its ermine stole and Art Deco antennae? (Be sure to click on these photos to better see the detail.) I left my thumbnail in the photo, in order to provide scale.

Eventually, I managed to coax it onto my finger, where I lifted a wing to discover this orange abdomen hidden under those grey-spotted white wings.

As it crawled up onto my wrist, I was able to see it head-on. Whoa! Look at that orange and black beard! No, I guess that's really the marking on its breast. A very diagnostic marking, too, since it clinched its ID: this is a Virginian Tiger Moth (Spilosoma virginica), the moth of the Yellow Bear caterpillar.

And here is a Yellow Bear caterpillar, whose photo I took last October. A mighty cute critter, and at least twice the size of its moth.

These Pearl Crescent butterflies were far more active than that Yellow Bear moth. There were at least a dozen flitting about me as I walked through a sunny spot, but none would sit still for a photo, of course. Except for this pair, who seemed to only have eyes for each other.

I kept scenting perfume on the air, and looking up into the tall hedge of Phragmites that lined the trail, I saw masses of Ground Nut flowers twining around the canes. From afar, these flower clusters just look like brownish blobs, but up close, the convoluted structure of the flower is just amazing to behold. And their fragrance is enchanting.

Here's another enchanting close-up view. I noticed the sunlight illuming this Bittersweet Nightshade berry, and moved in close for a photo. That's when I noticed the crystal drops and the little bug. Hmmm . . . . I wonder if that bug is poking holes in those berries to make the juice run out?

I almost didn't bring my camera today, just meaning to get a little exercise on a trail where I thought there would not be much to see. Well, I didn't get much exercise, but I did find lots to see!


Louise said...

The Yellow Bear moth is so beautiful! What a lucky thing that you had your camera with you, so you could get such good pictures of him. You certainly had a lovely walk, even if you didn't get much exercise.

I love the name "Lake Lonely" by the way.

squirrel said...

Nice photos of the moth. Bending over and getting up and down count as exercise. :-) I too am glad you took your camera. Nice post.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thanks, Louise, glad you stopped by. Regarding lake names, there's also a Lake Desolation near Saratoga. All we need now is a Lake Woebegone.

Thanks, squirrel, good to hear from you. Yes, there's no reason not to carry my little camera that fits into my pocket. The world is full of surprises, some of them worth a picture.

greentangle said...

Love the moth photos!