Sunday, May 6, 2012

May 6, 2012

This week the insects started to invade Lake Wicwas.  The black flies have hatched out, but they aren't the biting types yet - at least mostly.  I did get a bite or two, but mostly they were still the swarming types.  But by next week, life outside will change....

There are lots of other bugs joining them, including tiny green caterpillars rappelling down their silk threads from high in the trees, floating far on the wind as they travel to spread their genes to new territory.  I also saw the first butterflies of the season, including a Red Admiral, which shows the migratory insects have started to find their way to their summer homes.  The Red Admiral winters way down in Texas!

Red Admiral - Vanessa atalanta
I also saw this cool Leaf-footed Bug enjoying the warm sunshine.
Leaf-footed Bug - Leptoglossus phyllopus

With the insects comes the arrival of the flycatchers.  I watched a phoebe sitting in the tip-top branches of the tallest oak trees, flicking its tail about, and then darting off to capture an insect before returning to its perch.  One less insect to deal with!

A more diverse range of flowers is coming out as well; we are nearing the peak of the spring wildflower season.  Decorating our world right now are Fringed Polygala, Goldthread, Wild Strawberry, and many others.  Any walk outside will surely reveal some of these for you to enjoy.

Fringed Polygala

Wild Strawberry

The trees are also making good progress toward summer.  The red maples are especially colorful;  their true color is apparent on both their fruit ("keys") as well as their leaves that have not yet turned green with chlorophyll.
Red Maple "Keys"

I was interested in the bracken fern, which are just starting to unfurl.  Bracken are the three-branched ferns, and it appears that they send up a tall, sturdy stalk as much as two feet high before they open up their leaves. 

Bracken Fern

In just a few weeks it will look like this:

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