A Day in the Life…Part 37

It’s the end of the second week in September and the fall colors are showing themselves.  Above Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is one of the very first plants to change color each year. This five-leaved climbing vine is easily seen on the trunks of many trees.

Also making an early appearance is the last fern to emerge, Cut-leafed Grape Fern (Botrychium dissectum). The fertile frond (leaf)  extends up from the center of the triangular leaves and resembles a bunch of grapes. The leaves will turn a bronze color when frost bitten.
The “asters” are blooming and are an attractive food source for many insect like the Cucumber Beetle above.
Calico Aster (Symphyotrichum lateriforum) got its name because the abundant tiny flowers resemble calico print fabric.
One of the most dominant flowers in bloom is White Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima). The plant was responsible for a disease called the Milk Sickness. When cows grazed on large qualities of the plant, it would make the cow sick and poison their milk. (Don’t worry today’s milk supply is safe.)
This flower is nothing to sneeze at…it’s Sneezeweed! (Helenium autumnale). This plant is also aptly known as Swamp Sunflower and grow in the wet meadow area here at Wahkeena.
Late summer and autumn are good times to see a wide variety of caterpillars. The poor tussock moth caterpillar above is still alive but has been parasitized  by a Broconid wasp. When the wasp larva hatches it will feed on the host caterpillar. The original movable feast!
Posted by Tom
  

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