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.

Click me for the first post of this series.

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Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Mismatched Appetite

Bugged

Nectar at the base of each flower petal may be the quixotic quest of this mosquito. Quixotic because the physical characteristics of benefit to human predation, a light body, makes it unsuited to delve into the petals.
Flowers are like people in emitting carbon dioxide, another mosquito attractant. If it is looking for blood here this mosquito is also at a loss.

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Another lily with a tiny fly (mosquito?) perched at the base.

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Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Fillmore Glen Gallery

A Successful Outing during COVID-19

Here is a gallery recapping my afternoon among the wonders of Fillmore Glen, a New York State park, Moravia, New York. I visited there during the New York COVID-19 “PAUSE.” ENJOY!!

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Early Spring X

Beginnings

Amazing natural sights were mine while living 25 years on the edge of the Malloryville Preserve near Freeville, Tompkins County, New York. None more so than early one Memorial Day, 2004, walking the bank of Fall Creek opposite home I came upon, totally unexpected, a first time sighting of a Trout Lily.

Today’s header image is one of my attempts at capturing the Malloryville Trout Lily’s from April 2006. This year’s visit to Fillmore Glen yielded my first “perfect” photographs of this flower.

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Several popular names for this flower originate from the distinctive leafs markings, “Adder’s Tongue Lily” and “Fawn Lily” among them. The second is from the American naturalist and author, John Burroughs, who observed them from his home among the Catskill Mountains of New York State.

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Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Early Spring IX

Purple Striations Revealed

Three corolla (petal) characteristics of the Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) are seen in today’s photograph: the pointed ends referred to yesterday, a reflexing (bending back) seen when the season warms up. Purple striations grouping together basally and spreading toward the tip is the third.

A purple flush, tending toward red, is a coloring associated with the genus name. “Erythro-” is from the Greek for the color red.

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Early Spring VIII

Dog Tooth

Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) is named for the mottled brown leaves resembling markings on trout. The source of another name, “Dog Tooth Lily,” is hidden. My surmise was the pointed flower petals, instead it is for the pointed corms, modified stems developing underground and used to store energy to survive winter conditions.

An individual Trout Lily is seen here in an environmental shot, cradled by a tree root, and in a macro with the leaves that suggest the common name. Both shots are from the Canon 100 mm “macro” lens. All photographs in this series are from my May 5, 2020 afternoon visit during the Coronavirus pandemic.

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Early Spring VII

Hundreds of While Trillium

Fillmore Glen is a supportive environment for trillium, as seen in these overview shots.

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Early Spring VI

Aspect Continuum

White Trillium from different aspects.

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Early Spring V

Purple vs. White Trillium

Purple Trillium, a different species from the white, present different challenges. The purple blooms tend to dip down toward the ground. White flowers face upward toward the sky. My successful photographs of purple (Click me for another Purple Trillium posting) have the camera lower than the plant, say where there is a bank above the trail.

Shot from beneath, White Trillium project a hopeful air. Here is a comparison of the two species in the environmental and individual treatments.

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