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Early Summer Blooms & Bugs
Lens: FA 50 macro, FA 100 macro, others Camera: K20D Photo Location: East Tennessee 
Posted By: mole, 07-14-2013, 08:04 PM

It's been a cool and VERY WET early summer here in the hills of East Tennessee. Perfect for blooming things, but less than ideal for many of the pollinators.

This little plant, called Pipsissewa, is usually rather sparse and easily overlooked. But this year, we are seeing large groups of healthy, bloom-filled plants.

The damp field-edges are rich with one of our native roses. Carolina Rose is usually full of small bees and butterflies. But no insects visited this group of blooms (at least, not while I was watching them).

Sunny meadows are perfect habitat for another summer bloom. We've seen plenty of Black-Eyed Susans this year, but again, not an abundance of the small butterflies and leaf-cutter bees that usually visit them.

Well, at least the Common Milkweed's abundant bloom has been host to some insect pollinators. Here's a female Tiger Swallowtail - it's the dark form that mimics the (bad-tasting) Pipevine Swallowtail.

And here's her brighter-colored male counterpart...

This little butterfly was a new one to me. Juniper Hairstreaks are common some years, rare others. Their caterpillars eat Junipers (our native and very common Eastern Red Cedar is actually a Juniper). Notice the hairlike appendages on the back of the wing, close to the eye-like markings. Supposed to fool predators into grabbing the wrong end of the butterfly. This allows the butterfly to escape with a slightly damaged wing, instead of becoming lunch. Also notice the yellowish sacs on its feet. These are milkweed pollen sacs. When an insect lands on a milkweed flower, its feet slip into little slits where the pollen sacs are waiting to be picked up and carried to another flower...

One of our commonest summer butterflies is not very common this year. We've only seen a few Great Spangled Fritillaries so far. Perhaps when the heavy rains are over...

Will close with a few Dragonfly shots: A Ruby(?) Meadowhawk, a pair of Slaty Skimmers, and a Spangled Skimmer. Again, we are seeing a good variety of dragonflies, but lower than usual numbers. Perhaps it's a result of the prolonged cool spell this spring...

In any case, sure do hope you enjoyed the blooms & bugs, and that you will share your comments & critique.
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07-15-2013, 06:38 AM   #2
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Stunning series. Your bugs and butterfly shots are some of the best I have seen.
07-15-2013, 07:38 AM   #3
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Very nicely captured series.----charliezap
07-16-2013, 01:20 PM   #4
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Lovely series and those dragonflies are so sharp.


07-17-2013, 03:30 PM   #5
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Susan - You are too kind!

Charlie - Glad you liked them!

Igor - And thanks for taking time to comment!
07-17-2013, 03:33 PM   #6
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another wonderful series from the Ranger, always a pleasure to view here in the desert.
07-24-2013, 06:41 AM   #7
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Great set of photos...very well done. TFS

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