Saturday, August 19, 2017
This Summer's Surprising Abundance
Beck's Water Marigold (Bidens beckii) is classified as a rare plant in New York, as well as in many surrounding states, and I have been lucky enough to know where to find some for quite a few years. But never have I seen these emergent flowers thriving in such abundance as they are thriving this summer. There's a Hudson River backwater near Glens Falls, NY, where I used to find maybe 3 or 4 plants holding their bright-yellow blooms and green stem leaves above the still water, but this summer one whole end of the pool is just chock full of them.
Those big yellow aster-like flowers and sharply-toothed green leaves are the first things we see when we paddle the quiet waters where this plant grows, but the bulk of this flower's leaves grow beneath the surface, in hair-fine whorls that circle the underwater stems.
I'm not sure why we are seeing the Beck's Water Marigold in such abundance this summer. Perhaps it's because our summer has been rainier and cooler than those in the recent past. Whatever the reason, I wonder if those same conditions could also account for the amazing abundance of Primrose Moths (Schinia florida) I found this past week. I have been looking for this pretty pink-and-yellow moth for years, searching almost every stand of Evening Primrose (the moth's only food source) I came across, but to no avail. But this year, I have been finding them almost every time I look for them. In addition to the one whose photo I posted on my last blog entry, here are a few more of the Primrose Moths I found the past few days.
The moths always seem to occupy the bright-yellow flowers face down. I wonder, are they still feeding on the Evening Primrose nectar, or are they finally sleeping after a night of seeking food?
Here were a couple of them, sharing the same flower.
They do seem to be pretty groggy, quite unwilling to be dislodged when I nudge them to try to see their faces. Even this bumblebee buzzing around the moth's flower did not seem to disturb it one bit.