Thursday, October 23, 2014

Black And Yellow Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia) & Egg Cases

October 4th, 2014. This Black and Yellow Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia) set up ‘house’ on a sunny, southwest-facing window pane on the house where she appears to have thrived.
Her web is in the lower left-hand pane. 
She has kept the web repaired. This image was captured on October 4th. 
Now, late in the season, the web has undergone some wear and tear. 
In early October, I was a little surprised to see an egg case in the upper left-hand corner of this pane followed by another in the upper left-hand corner of the upper left pane

Now she has a third egg case located next to the second egg case.  These egg cases are in a shaded, less exposed location compared with the first egg case.

According to the Museum of Zoology at the University of Michigan, this species breeds once and may produce one or more, although rarely 4, egg cases each containing 300 to 1400 eggs. In areas with cold winters, the eggs may hatch in the late Summer or Fall and the young remain dormant until Spring.

It will be interesting to see if we can observe the young as they start the next generation of this intriguing spider.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tall/Common Morning Glory (Ipomoea purpurea) - White Variant

October 13th, 2014. Common Morning Glory (Ipomoea purpurea) plants have been blooming along fence lines around the county. Most flowers are blue or pink so it was noteworthy to see some white flowers.

A white variant of the Tall Morning Glory blooming on the embankment

Closer views

Most of the flowers had purple highlights

The sepals

Close views of the leaves and a bud

A purple flower of one of the ‘parent’ plants that also exhibits the deeper purple highlights
Some of the white flowers lack the purple highlights although the highlights are distinguishable on the flower to the left.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus)

October 12th, 2014. Adult male and female Evening Grosbeaks (Pheucticus ludovicianus) arrived at our bird feeders at the end of April.

 The male was shy and would land in the branches of a tree near the platform feeder. He came to the platform feeder a few times and then disappeared.
The female wasn’t as shy and came to the sunflower tube feeder several times a day for almost two weeks.
We are a little south of their breeding range so they were migrating north at the time.

Then, on October 12th, we saw two young males, one at the sunflower feeder and…

another at the platform feeder.
They stayed around for a couple of days and then were gone, migrating south to the Caribbean or Central/South America. It’s a little sad that they aren’t resident here but it was nice to see them on their way through.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Whitebanded Crab Spider (Misumenoides formosipes)

October 6th, 2014. J spotted this small spider on a dead branch of a pine tree near the house. Crab spiders may change color to blend in with their surroundings but this little guy wasn’t doing so well in this regard. In spite of the fact that it’s yellow, we identified it has a Whitebanded Crab Spider (Misumenoides formosipes).

Crab spiders belong to three genera within the Family Thomisidae: Misumena, Misumenoides, and Mecaphesa. These genera may be identified by the arrangement of the eyes as shown in Bug Guide. 

To quote Bug Guide,
Misumenoides: All four anterior (front) eyes are about the same size. When viewed from the front, and a little above, only six eyes are visible. The posterior laterals are facing sideways and are on the ends of a long horizontal transverse ridge across the face. Eric says "Misumena has essentially no black markings (while Misumenoides may have some), which is how you can tell them apart in the field most easily."

Friday, October 17, 2014

Coker's Amanita (Amanita cokeri)

September 30th -  October 5th, 2014. 

This mushroom emerged on the shoulder of the road outside our place. It looked like it would be a specimen mushroom so I decided to photograph it each day until it opened completely.
September 30th

October 1st

October 2nd

October 3rd, morning

October 3rd, afternoon

October 3rd, afternoon. The mushroom, in profile, showing the veil still partially attached to the cap.

October 4th

October 5th

Closer views of the tubercles on the cap

The cap grew so large that it split the stem. I’ve never seen this in a mushroom before.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Purple False Foxglove/Purple Gerardia (Agalinis purpurea)

September 30th, 2014. In mid-September, bright pink flowers appear on small bushes along the roadside in Walton County. Usually the bushes are on embankments or agenst fences that don’t allow easy access. This particular plant was accessible and the blooms were in perfect condition. A special treat.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Spotted Knapweed (Centaurea stoebe ssp. micranthos)

September 28th, 2014. This plant was growing in the long grass by a road sign at a busy intersection. Its roots are probably in the ditch. I’d see it as I rode through the intersection but was paying more attention to getting safely across the road that I’d forget to stop. From a distance, it looked a little like a blazing star or an ironweed. By the time I did remember to stop, the plant was way past its best but there were a few flowers, and some leaves left. 

I was a little surprised to find it was a Spotted Knapweed, the first I’ve seen. I’ll have to pay more attention next year.