Posts Tagged ‘species’



Spiderwort flowers bloom among my other spring wildflowers.

Two clumps of them grow in my spring wildflower garden (between the pine and hackberry tree) where they attract small insects.

An occasionally breeze blew this flower and made it look like a flying “butterfly.”

There are several species of spiderworts (Tradescantia)

… and this one posed to have its picture taken.

Horace’s Duskywing Skipper

They don’t call them skippers for nothing.


There are spread-wing skippers, like this Horace’s skipper,

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and there are foldwing skippers. This one is probably a sachem. I need to see the underside of the hindwing to be sure.

A checklist of Illinois butterflies lists 54 species of skippers! Needless to say there’s a lot of similarities among them.

Double-Ringed Pennant

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 A double-ringed pennant (Celithemis verna) didn’t mind my attention this morning and posed for a few pictures. This is a male; the females have a yellowish thorax and a little yellow on base of  their abdomen.

Earthstar Mushroom

It’s been years and years since I’ve seen an earthstar mushroom.

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I’m not sure which species of earthstar this one is. Not knowing in no way diminishes my enjoyment of the find.

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  Obviously, the earthstar would’ve probably gone unnoticed if I hadn’t walked straight up to it.

A Ladies’ Tresses Orchid

 Buffy and I went for a morning hike along the lake trail at Jones Lake. It was a cloudy, windy morning with the temperature climbing into low 50’s. We started down the hill from the parking lot, and hadn’t reached the bottom when I found an orchid in bloom.

It was a ladies tresses orchid (Spiranthes sp.) Five species of them grow here in southern Illinois. Usually the only one I see in October has a triple spiral of flowers and 2 leaves.

This one had a single spiral, and the leaves had already dried. The plant stood 8 inches tall.

The lip had yellow on it. A state-endangered ladies’ tresses orchid has a single spiral and yellow on the lip. It’s much taller and blooms earlier in the season.

There are 2 other ladies’ tresses species with a single spiral that bloom earlier too. Their flowers are smaller than the ones on this plant. The flowers on this one measured 7mm.

This picture shows the spiral of the flowers from a different angle.

I was focusing so hard on the orchid that I didn’t notice this one until I stood up. It was only 4 feet from the one in above pictures.

Even with my Illinois and a Missouri orchid books, I couldn’t decide definitely which orchid species these were. Two of my friends are botanists. I sent them pictures and information before starting this blog. Needless to say, I’m anxious to hear from them.


One friend replied. He said it’s a Spiranthes ovalis, a rare orchid. Larry worked in southern Illinois, first for the IDNR and then Shawnee National Forest for many years. He’s now the national botanist for the U.S. Forest Service in D.C. He’s only seen 2 of these orchids in Illinois. That makes this find even that more exciting!

One never knows what one might find while hiking along.

Caterpillar Mystery

I started a major rock project next to my water garden. While scattering the rocks from the LONG pile of them, I found this caterpillar on the underside of one.

Several rocks later, I discovered this caterpillar on the underside of a rock too. Obviously, it’s the same species as the one above. I can’t explain the circle-like shapes around it. It looks like it molted in the center area. What would the larger ones have been used for? They wouldn’t use them to shrink. The top caterpillar was about 5/8 inch long, and the other was under a half inch.

After going through 400 pages, page by page, in my Caterpillars of Eastern North America, I didn’t find a caterpillar that resembled these. So, maybe the caterpillars will change considerably as they mature, or maybe I wasn’t looking quite the right way at the details.

If anyone knows their identity, please let me know.

The Accused and the Culprit

Hayfever season affects so many people. The sneezing, watery eyes begin, and all the sufferers see is the profilic bloomer goldenrod. It gets accused for all their suffering. They never notice the actual culprit, the ragweed (Ambrosia sp).

Do you see the ragweed in this picture taken in my backyard?

I rest my case.

Average height of most ragweeds is 6 feet or so. Giant ragweed can reach 17 feet tall! Peterson’s Field Guide to Wildflower shows 31 species. Illinois has 5 species.

Goldenrods (Solidago sp.) grow to 5 feet tall, with Illinois having 25 species.

This picture shows the male ragweed flowers beginning to bloom,

and this one shows them from the underneath side. Ragweed is pollinated by the wind. Insects pollinate the goldenrods.  (The flowers in this picture haven’t started blooming like in the picture above.)

Female flowers are practically hidden in the leaf axils. If you look closely, you can see yellow stamens.

These flowers were pollinated, and the seeds are developing.

Wonder if this holds one or more seeds?

Obviously, goldenrod is attractive to insects and not the cause of hayfever.