Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum) began its long bloom period a little early this summer in St. Louis. Actually, it began blooming in early June, at the end of springtime. This allowed me to create these images in a garden I passed during a morning walk. Such walks and encounters dispel anxieties and remind me of their triviality. Daisys also remind me of my mother; they were her favorite flowers. So many emotions worked through me during this particular walk; therapeutic reflections of life as I admired these mid-life blooms.
Eastern Daisy Fleabane (Erigeron annuus) shows up voluntarily along paths and roadsides. The flowers are thumbnail sized and bloom in bouquet arrangements tempting passersby to capture their loveliness. Today I brought them home as images saved.
I had a single mission, to protect my home. I was arming a defense of our newly restored driveway from gradual destruction. Our property is alongside the end of an alley and used by garbage trucks twice a week to make a wide turn onto the street leaving tire tracks. Snow plows gouge pits into it as they complete their run through the alley plowing the gravel path clear of snow. I would create an appealing defense. I was going to create a large barrier that would not go unseen even in a foot of snow. It would stop monster trucks from crossing our driveway which was built to withstand light car traffic. I had no idea that my obstruction would be a habitat in itself.
Our driveway hosts the only patch of all-day sunlight on our property. The gardener in me chose three large planters to place at the corner of driveway/alley area. The pots would hopefully be large enough to sustain plant roots during the Chicago winter weather. Two pots were to hold small evergreen shrubs. One pot I filled with some perennial trailing groundcover and for summer color I added African Daisies (Osteopermum)
in blue and white. Osteo means “bone” and permum is “seed” so I thought this a valid name for flowers that were placed to send a “strong” message to trucks to “watch out” as they drove past.
One day, I back-tracked as I passed the pots because I wasn’t sure if I had seen an insect or a blade of grass lying across a flower. The curious naturalist in me had to know which I had observed. To my excitement (yep, that’s exciting for me!) I spied what looked like a long legged grasshopper with spotted antennae. I was unsure if it would still be there after taking a few minutes to get my camera, but it seemed to be patiently awaiting my return. It was resting on the blue Osteopermum, also known as Blue-eyed Daisy. Its delicate profile fit the peaceful setting.
One sighting is all the encouragement I need. So the following day I was anxious to see if by any chance the grasshopper-like insect had remained in this habitat. What a wonderful amazement to see that it was still there, but now on one of the white African Daisies. So now I was hooked and needed to do research to learn the identity of my new fascination.
What I learned is that this was not a grasshopper, but a Scudderia – Scudder’s Bush Katydid. Specifically it was a nymph (young) Scudder’s Bush Katydid. I would have recognized it had it been an adult, but have never knowingly seen a nymph. Insects are amazing at going through many changes during their short life. Metamorphosis is the official name for this, and perhaps the degree of “change” is worthy of such a big word. I have often wished for a reference book ( or online resource) with a visual image of every change during life of every common insect for our area. But I realize this is quite ambitious because there are over 90,000 insect species in the United States (that have been identified). Even if 1/4th of them reside in Chicago that would be quite a reference book if each phase of change is documented for each species. This is even more overwhelming a project when you realize that a stage for an insect, such as larva, can contain several physical transformations before moving onto the pupa stage. So some insects would warrant documentation for quite a few more than four changes before maturity. Desired habitats change also for an insect as it matures (much like us!?), so I do not expect my new friend will remain a part of this small habitat very long.