Sunday, June 30, 2013
Identification is complex with dragonflies as the males and females look different, and often the young adults look different than the older adults.
The only way to positively identify many of the dragonflies is to look up close and personal at the last or 10th segment of the male's abdoman. Each species has a distinctive structure, which is how we were able to identify this male Midland Clubtail Dragonfly.
This gets pretty technical. I enjoy the ones that can be easily identified from a distence.
Friday, June 28, 2013
So in front of many onlookers, photographers, and my camera, she ignored us and patiently dug a hole as far as her legs would reach into the ground.
Her right hind leg is a blur in this picture as she flings dirt up out of the hole.
She carefully places the dirt removed in a small pile behind the hole. It took her about 45 minutes to dig the hole.
She immediately began to lay eggs once she was done digging. In this picture her second egg can be seen emerging from her cloacal opening under her tail.
After finishing egg laying the female turtle immediately filled the hole in with dirt using her hind legs again. In between each foot full of dirt she would press her bottom shell onto the fresh dirt to pack it down. In 20 minutes she completed moving all the dirt and the nest site was as smooth as the dirt near by.
It will take 60 to 90 days for the eggs to hatch. The female will not return, but instead let the sun incubate the eggs.
Monday, June 24, 2013
The next picture shows how much change has happenned in 18 hours.
There is a lot of small rippeling movement here through the body as the change begins inside the skin.
Within an hour of the antennae going limp the caterpillar will straighten down out of the "J" position.
Within seconds of these two things happenning the skin will begin to split as can be seen in the next image.
For some reason the post will not let me write alongside the next picture, but as the skin begins to split the new chrysalis expands pushing the skin up the body.
As the new chrysalis emerges the skin is forced higher up toward the button that is holding everything.
The new chrysalis is wiggling back and forth quite a bit at this time
You can see the black probe (my name for this, I'm sure there is a more proper name) has just emerged from under the skin here. It is at the top right of the new chrysalis.
I cropped and enlarged this portion of the image below.
Here you can see the probe easier, and the delicate hold that the old skin still has on the silk button.
Here the probe has pushed itself onto the silk button. the new chrysalis wiggles in circles here to get the probe attached securely.
The probe is attached now, and the chrysalis continues to wiggle and releases its hold to the old skin, which causes the old skin to fall off, and makes a more secure connection for the probe.
This whole process took only about 2 minutes but must take a lot of energy for the chrysalis. The spiracle breathing holes, the little horizontal slits, one on each segment of the abdoman, were opening and closing repeatedly while I was taking these pictures. Heavy breathing!
It is amazing to see how the future butterfly wings and antennae are already formed and can be seen so clearly.
This on what was a walking eating caterpillar 24 hours earlier
The new chrysalis begins to get shorter and fatter. It needs to work quickly before its new skin begins to harden. So it wiggles and moves the wings toward the silk button.
More wiggling, but the definition of the wings and antennae is already beginning to flatten out after only 15 minutes.
Here is the chrysalis after only one hour. It has stopped wiggling now, and the skin is taking on a hard shell like appearance.
Another post in a few days will show how the chrysalis changes with time. But since I just took these pictures, we will all have to wait to see how it looks.
Still, it already is a beautiful emerald jewel like sculpture. But it beathes.
Sunday, June 23, 2013
This Monarch caterpillar is preparing to become a chrysalis, its pupal stage. First it creates a silk "button" to securely attach itself to as it goes through the very inactive chrysalis period.
Now the caterpillar quiets down for a few minutes, and then slowly begins to let all its true and false or pro legs loose from the plant stem.
It very slowly lets its body down and then lets loose with this last leg hold.
It will stay in this position for about 18 hours while its internal body makes significant changes.
This is its last act as a caterpillar. At the end of the 18 hours, its skin will split and a beautiful chrysalis will be revealed.
The next post will show that process.
Here the caterpillar is only 3mm long, but it started eating right away. At 48 hrs old it had grown to 6mm long.
It does not have the bright colors yet to warn predators that it will taste terrible as it starts to eat the milkweed plants that are its food.
At this point it is full grown as a caterpillar, and starts wandering for a safe place to change into a chrysalis.
Friday, June 21, 2013
After the long winter we had here in Minnesota this year I enjoyed the Bloodroot when it bloomed, and I posted this picture on May 7th shortly after the last snowfall.
The Bloodroot flowers have now turned to seed pods, and the seed pods have started to open to show their fascinating inside.
The seed pod here is a little less than two inches long, and is a yellowish-green color.
The pod splits along its long axis and opens to show the seeds inside, as can be seen below.
It is the "connections" that caught my attention. When I first saw them through the camera I thought they were little parasites or slugs or maggots of some kind.
I watched closely for movement and then noticed that each seed has just one connection. and that it is a part of the plant.
But looking at the close up picture below shows that these do not look like any plant tissue I have seen before.
To me each seed looks like a little apple, and the connection looks like a moist slug about to have supper.
The pod will curl open as it dries, and the "slug" connection will turn black, as the picture below shows. the seed pod below was on another plant about a foot away from the one above.
The seeds dropped off with only a little bump, and each may become a new Bloodroot plant with flowers early next spring.
These Spiderwort flowers were blooming in the prairies where I took these photos yesterday.
The plants seem to be in the most difficult to grow places, one plant per location out in the open.
But they are great for the pollinators, and the bees really like them, for pollen and nector.
They look inviting to pollinators, but while I was taking these photos nothing landed on them. Butterflies flew by to land on what must have seemed more productive flowers near by.
These flowers withstand wind and storms out in the open, but they always seem delicate and fragile when I see them up close.
Sunday, June 16, 2013
These two pictures show two different birds, the top one with a black and a blue band on its left leg, the other with a blue and a silver band on its left leg.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
As the flower turns to seed it points itself to the sky for the wind to blow the seeds as far as possible.
Five petals are on this flower as the name suggests and one more than the Puccoon.
And the seed heads are a geometric wonder and work of art waiting for a breeze or a breath to start the individual seeds on their journey through the air.