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Inside the Cage

Caterpillar to pupa to chrysalis

Still hanging, quiet, motionless the chrysalis from the caterpillar photographed yesterday becomes translucent the same evening, Day 9 since pupation.

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Day 10, early morning, the outer skin, fully transparent, signals emergence is immanent.

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I used the cage access door and the IPhone 7, with flash, for these views inside the cage.

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Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Chrysalis

Caterpillar to pupa to chrysalis

Our monarch butterfly sanctuary is a dense stand of milkweed, over the years the established plants grow rapidly late May through June, blooming in July. The flowers have an incredible scent, attracting numerous pollinating insects.

A colony of pesky sparrows nest nearby. In spite of a reputation for tasting bad, the sparrow actively feed on the hatched caterpillars. My strategy is to examine the plants early morning, placing rescued caterpillars in this old birdcage.

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The caterpillars and milkweed leaf is placed on the cage floor. I pile up the dried leaves, replacing with fresh each morning.

Sadly to report, the last, ravenous caterpillar stage is also carnivorous, cannibalistic. These two, below, were the only ones left except for one in the pile of dried leaves.

Here is a closer view of the two fifth stage instars searching for a safe location to pupate.

A few hours later one has successfully created a silk pad, attached itself and assumed the “J” shape. To the left a second caterpillar and silk pad.

The next morning, the first has formed a chrysalis. The second, hung spent.

This unsuccessful individual never completed the chrysalis, dried up and fell. My sources write the pupa transforms to a chrysalis through shedding of skin, the following photograph tells a different story. The chrysalis appears to extrude from the skin; arising over, or from, the skin rather and beneath it. I have never recovered a shed skin underneath a successful chrysalis.

Nine days later, Tuesday, July 28, the chrysalis hangs. I check several times a day.

These photographs are from a 100mm “macro” lens, handheld. The birdcage works well for protecting the monarchs. Is a poor location for photography.

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Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Weedy Orchid V

Presenting a macro of a Broad-leaved Helleborine (Epipactis helleborine) growing in our rose garden, in full bloom, a profusion of orchid flowers.

Helleborine, the scientific name species designation, means like a Hellebore. It must refer calyx, the outer leaves forming the flower bud, these open to reveal the flower. In this macro, the unopened buds are upper right. Bottom center the calyx, fully open, with the flower ready to accept pollination, fertilization. After opening, the calyx seems to be part of the flower, a characteristic of hellebore (see Helleborus argutifolius).

The flowers attract a variety of Hymenoptera. I observed wasps, yellow-jackets visiting. Today, each flower is a ripening fruit. I need to photograph is stage.

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Photograph is from a 100mm “macro” lens, f6.3.

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Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Weedy Orchid IV

Broad-leaved Helleborine (Epipactis helleborine), a wild orchid, is a wide ranging, invasive, plant now found across North America. I suspect this success is based on a partnership with fungi. Commonly known as the “Weedy Orchid” it is not especially particular on the fungus partner, accepting a wide, curiously undefined for lack of research, variety.

In this the fourth of a five part series, the 50 mm lens f-stop is tamped down a bit, narrowing the diaphragm to f2.2, yielding the column of orchid faces in sharp focus. The nodding top, bent into the frame, unfocused, stem and leaves soft focus, still lots of detail discernible. Background far less distracting.

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Today’s header image is from yesterday’s post, by way of comparison.

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.to be continued.

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Weedy Orchid III

This series reveals an an interesting plant I encountered July 2019. the Broad-leaved Helleborine (Epipactis helleborine), a wild orchid.

Each flower produces a seed capsule with an uncountable profusion of minuscule seeds. Germination is only possible if a fungus is present, mycorrhizal symbiosis the scientific term from the root words myco (fungus) and rhiz- as in rhízōma “mass of roots.”

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This photograph minimizes the clutter of this rose garden site, lost in a beautiful bokeh, at a cost of much flower detail. Many of the numerous blooms are out of focus. F-stop is set to wide open, f1.2. The apparent image distortion, upper left hand quadrant, is the blurred arc of a juniper bush limb.

Today’s header image is from yesterday’s post, by way of comparison.

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.to be continued.

Copyright 2019 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Weedy Orchid II

July 2019 I photographed an interesting plant growing in the wild. Motivated by curiosity I identified it as Broad-leaved Helleborine (Epipactis helleborine), a wild orchid.

A few years back we fenced in the rose garden as protection against marauding deer. This orchid specimen thrived within the enclosure, possibly turbocharged by rose fertilization.

The number of tiny flowers on a single stalk give a freakish, monstrous impression.

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Here, the tripod is moved to the fully illuminated side, at f9 the details of the interesting leaves, entire flower stalk including the top bent toward the view, are in focus. The background fencing is a distraction.

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.to be continued.

Copyright 2019 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Weedy Orchid I

July 2019, while hiking Fillmore Glen I photographed an interesting, till then unknown to me, plant growing on shale till beneath the gorge wall. Motivated by curiosity I identified it as Broad-leaved Helleborine (Epipactis helleborine), a wild orchid.

Using this information, I found the plant growing in our yard as a persecuted weed, observed closely a specimen surviving in a neglected nook and discovered the tiny face of an orchid flower.

2020, on my request, germinating plants with the same leaf form were spared weeding, even allowed to grow among the roses were the specimen of today’s photographs thrived.

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I captured this and all following (posts) photographs of this orchid in late afternoon light, after the sun was behind the hemlock hedge to the west, mounting on a portable tripod made the shot possible in this light.

This specimen benefited from the ample fertilizer applied to the surrounding roses. Compare with the specimen photographed in Fillmore Glen, in post header. I needed to fit into a tight space, so the smaller tripod was used. The lens is a 50 mm, f-stop 5.6. I could open up the diaphragm to 1.2, though the additional blur would not improve the background very much (over f 5.6) at a cost of much of the plant out of focus. Each orchid is smaller than a “pinky” fingernail.

..to be continued.

Copyright 2019 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Botanic Garden of Belfast

In closing

The Ulster Museum is set among the Botanic Gardens. It was in the gardens on this rainy Saturday Pam and I wandered for twenty minutes to sweep away the cobwebs of our rainy drive from Coleraine.

I do not have an identification for the following photograph. If you know, please comment. Thank You.

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“Tropical” palm trees and bromeliad are found throughout Ireland. Thank You Gulf Stream.

Another unidentified plant…..

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Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Paper Thin and Wet

Poppies!!! Petals like paper

The Ulster Museum is set among the Botanic Gardens. It was in the gardens on this rainy Saturday, after the Foxglove flowers of yesterday’s post, flourishing, bright red poppy flowers caught my eye.

Here is a take on poppy flower buds on long stems among leaves.

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Poppy is a storied plant, most species do not produce the narcotic alkaloids associated with sleep and death, pain control. Papaveroideae, the sub-family of these plants, is derived from the Latin for paper, papyrus. You can see the association in the following photographs, petals drenched in water, crumpling like wet paper.

….and more.

..to be continued…..

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Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Foxglove

Approach to the Museum

The Ulster Museum is set among the Botanic Gardens. It was in the gardens on this rainy Saturday we needed the umbrellas several times during our twenty minute digression before the museum engulfed us.

The rain brought out this snail, house on its back.

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We found flowers flourishing throughout the island. These foxglove were huge. The common name is after Leonhard Fuchs, who first described it. “Fuchs” is German for fox.

..to be continued…..

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