Synonyms for “naturally” include obviously, logically, unsurprisingly, certainly and indeed. The flowers below are growing in the natural, tropical habitat. Unsurprisingly they flourish when allowed to live naturally.
Autumn is a busy time for nature. Perennial plants and insects prepare for the changing, slower, colder, winter months.
The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert is a story that seamlessly integrates meticulous botanical details into your knowledge base as one reads this coming-of-age love story. The uniquely original ecosystems of moss are one such topic. Walking through the forest this past fall, this scene on the forest floor reminded me of Alma Whittaker’s fascination with such ecosystems. I felt somewhat guilty not returning regularly to document the changes within.
Common Milkweed (asclepias syriaca) is the chosen food of Monarch butterflies. Eggs are laid on the plant and larva feast on the leaves. Much has been reported on the loss of habitat for Monarchs including this Milkweed, not to be confused with the orange blooming Butterfly Milkweed (asclepias tuberosa). Loss of habitat has led to dramatically reduced populations of these wonderful creatures.
This Common Milkweed plant attracted me with its delicate fluffy seeds that had recently burst out of several pods. They always remind me of one segment of the Disney movie, Fantasia. As I focused on the seeds, I noticed a few brightly colored Milkweed Bugs. Several moments later, I realized the “brown” pod above the seeds was actually a community of Milkweed Bugs on one pod. The Milkweed Butterfly has left this northern area and begun its 3000-mile migration to Mexico, while the Milkweed Bug enjoys the remaining spoils of this host plant.
Two very different habitats though inches away in location. In the first image, the forest floor still has some un-melted snow while the top side of a decaying log resting on the same floor hosts a warmer habitat’s greening moss. The second image shows more green moss atop two logs resting in a typical vernal pool. Vernal pools are temporary springtime micro-habitats created when the still frozen ground has not yet absorbed the melted snows of winter.
The Halloween Pennant‘s habitat ranges from Canada to Florida. The one in this image I caught (with my lens) on a Ft. Lauderdale beach yesterday afternoon. It would be fitting to see the dragonfly in Florida, yet sighting this one on the Atlantic Ocean’s beach was a surprise. Halloween Pennant dragonflies inhabit FRESH water areas: ponds, streams, rivers and marshes. They lay their eggs in fresh water. Like myself, this dragonfly was merely visiting the beach yesterday.
A source of amusement for myself is pondering the creative thinking behind the naming of species. Common names for a plant or animal are often regional and therefore one species may be referred to by several common names, and one common name may be connected to more than one species. Scientific names remain the key identifier. This dragonfly has the common name of Halloween Pennant. “Halloween” references the orange and brown colorings similar to pumpkins and fall foliage. The “pennant” portion of its name reflects its routine of resting atop tall grasses or reeds, therefore resembling a pennant flapping in the wind. Coincidentally these creatures are skilled at maneuvering in wind, unlike most insects, which was beneficial for its encounter with sea breezes yesterday while away from their preferred environment.
See also “Observations From Hunting On The Prairie” 07/20/2011 made of the same species in a Chicagoland area prairie.