Tuesday, June 10, 2014

My deodorant failed me!

This afternoon I walked out on the observation deck at the Fox Island Nature Center and immediately was amazed by the number of dragonflies and butterflies that were performing their aerial acrobatics over the deck.  Within seconds a butterfly landed on my shirt and I began fumbling for my mobile phone's camera button.  Eventually I retrieved the phone from the bottom of my pocket under the 5 pounds of keys I carry in that pocket.  By that time the butterfly was gone but quickly returned and landed on my hand.  By this time I was in a panic to get some pictures of this once in a lifetime event.  The phone camera clicked away as I took pictures to share with friends far and near.  Needless to say I was feeling pretty special and the butterfly seemed very content to stay on my hand working it's proboscis across my skin.

After several minutes the butterfly flew on it's way and I went to get more information on this insect that I was unfamiliar with. It seems this is a Hackberry Emperor Butterfly (Asterocampa celtis). The good thing is that this butterfly is known to regularly land on humans and appear very friendly.  The bad thing is that while the caterpillar only feeds on Hackberry leaves, the adult does not feed on nectar but rather rotted fruit and animal dung. When I read this I immediately had a flashback to the deck and the 3 piles of raccoon scat that I saw when I first walked onto the deck.  Since this afternoon I have washed my hand numerous times and have vowed to change my deodorant.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Fire Pink

Most conspicuous of the wild flowers on the Fox Island Upper Dune Trail is this small bright red flower called the FIRE PINK.  The reference to "pink" has nothing to do with the color of the petals but rather to the small notch at the end of each petal as if they had been cut with "pinking" shears.  Another name for this family of plants is "CATCHFLY" due to the sticky liquid produced by the flowers that traps insects that land on the petals.