Walking near the Water

This time of year it’s the most interesting place to be walking. This is because near the water is where there is the most sun and consequently, the most flowers and the most insects, etc. I can always find something new to see in these areas. So this walk is partly from yesterday afternoon and this morning.  I found more stuff this morning I think because of the wonderfully cool temperatures. What a relief! Anyway, lets start with yesterday afternoon…

As I walked onto the boardwalk I noticed that the swamp milkweed was still blooming. I gaze intently at the closest plant looking for any signs of monarch caterpillars. (We don’t tend to get caterpillars or adults until August.) Sure enough that familiar pattern of black and yellow jumps out at me. Upon closer inspection, I see that there were two caterpillars, but one of them has succumbed to disease or parasitism or some other calamity. The live one however, is busily munching away.

There are a couple more milkweed plants just a few feet away. Sure enough, I found a third caterpillar. This one is quite small. How did I find such a small caterpillar? I look for his frass (poop) of course! Often that is the best way to find caterpillars. I find it especially helpful when I’m searching for the ever elusive tobacco hornworms on my tomato plants!

Here is the frass…

… and here is the caterpillar! You might have noticed that he’s not actually on the milkweed plant but a cat tail leaf that was next to it.

On to this morning’s finds. Tom had a couple of cool sightings. He had a green heron fly right past him on the driveway! It even gave him a little squawk as it flew past. Tom also saw a garter snake eating a green frog! A good day for the snake, but not so much for the frog.
I saw a muskrat in the boardwalk area and found plenty of flowers and bugs to take pictures of to share with you. Here goes:

Dodder, a parasitic wildflower.
Blue Mist Flower – blooming a little early.

Garden Phlox

A Fragile Forktail damselfly. Can you see the upside down exclamation point on his thorax?

An ailanthus web worm on the swamp milkweed. These guy’s caterpillars eat Tree-of-Heaven.

Some of the smaller button bushes will be blooming soon, extending the season on these butterfly magnets!
An Io moth caterpillar eating Bur Reed.

A close up of Ditch Stonecrop.

Can you see the caterpillar in this picture? Look hard! The “dead” stem at the top of this plant is really the caterpillar!

Jumpseed in full bloom.
Here are the new flowers in bloom:
Tearthumb – Arrow and Halberd-leaved
Blue Mistflower
Garden Phlox
Buttonbush (soon)
Silky Dogwood (again)

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