Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Red Morning Glory (Ipomoea coccinea)


 
October 13th, 2014
Red Morning Glory (Ipomoea coccinea) 
Walton County, Georgia  

Red Morning Glory (Ipomoea coccinea) vines were sharing the same embankment with the Purple Morning Glory (Ipomoea purpurea) purple and white vines.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Migrating Monarchs (Danaus plexippus)


October 28th, 2014. Many years ago, we planted elaeagnus plants along the fence line to form a windbreak. The plants were labeled as Elaeagnus umbellata but they look more like Elaeagnus pungens with…



Spotted buds and flowers, and…

ovoid fruit.
 
They are blooming profusely at the moment. The fragrance from the flowers is almost overwhelming.

As much as these bushes are reputed to be invasive, they provide a rich source of nectar for honey bees at a time when sources of food are sparce. The bushes hum with the sound of hundreds of bees swarming around them.

This morning, however, I saw flashes of orange and thought they were Gulf Fritillaries but suddenly realized I was looking at Monarch butterflies (Danaus plixippus); there were at least four and, possibly, as many as six. They were alternating between basking in the morning sun and feeding on the nectar from the flowers. 


As much as the elaegnus get a bad rap for being invasive, it appears that these plants may be providing an important source of food for these butterflies as they migrate south to Mexico for the Winter. 

I’ve seen the occasional Monarch in the woods during the Fall but never in the numbers I saw this morning. This is the first time I’ve seen Monarchs on the elaeagnus. Obviously I’m going to have to pay more attention to these bushes during the Fall.

Monday, October 27, 2014

White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)


October 4th, 2014. We often see several does with their fawns in the field between our house and the road. One doe had two fawns this year. They would spend the afternoon in the field and I’d often see them move into the woods at dusk. I was so used to seeing the fawns with their spots that I was somewhat taken aback when I saw them on this particular afternoon and saw that they no longer had any spots. They were young adults. 


The doe and…


one of the fawns.
 
I haven’t seen them recently. Maybe they read that the deer hunting season was about to begin (October 15th) and they should lay low for a few months?

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."