|The Common Buckeye Butterfly is not so "common" in Central New York|
It’s been a very dry summer so far. In fact, like much of the country, here in Upstate New York we’ve been experiencing a moderate drought. Still, life at the nature preserve goes on and the season's procession of blooming wildflowers and their visiting insect pollinators continues.
|The Wildflower meadow is dominated by Gray-headed Coneflower|
Only about half as tall as the coneflowers, the Bergamot is a real insect magnet. If you scan any grouping of these pale blue flowers you’re likely to see a variety of butterflies and bees working diligently on them. The tubular flowers of Bergamot are especially compelling to any creature with a long proboscis.
|Clouded Sulfur Butterfly on Oxeye|
|Hummingbird Sphinx Moth hovers over Begamot as it feeds|
|The amount of eyeshine alone tells of this moth's noctural habits|
At one point I shined a flashlight on it and was amazed by the amount of reflection that came back from its eyes. Obviously, this is a moth that is well geared for low light conditions. Eventually, the moth did settle down on the floor and I was able to capture it and release it outside –seemingly undamaged by the ordeal.
The incredibly tall Compass Plants have started to bloom along the meadow’s edge. This perennial sunflower has finely cut leaves that are a little fern-like. It’s likely that this adaptation helps the plant from losing moisture. Also, the leaves have a rough texture which aid in the retention of water. The roots of the Compass Plant grow astoundingly deep –likely yet another adaptation to dry conditions. You would expect no less from a plant that evolved in a prairie environment. The Compass Plant flower is like a smaller version of a typical annual sunflower bloom, but usually with lighter yellow petals.
Royal Catchfly has also begun to bloom on the other side of the meadow –where the meadow meets Wick’s Pond. From a distance its brilliant red flower could be mistaken for Cardinal Flower, but it’s no relation. However, the Cardinal Flower’s relative, Blue Lobelia, is growing nearby at the shore of the pond, but it’s nowhere close to blooming at this point in the summer.
|A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird visits Culver's Root growing in the meadow|