Monday, July 31, 2023

Bee Balm Diary

These incredibly complex-looking flowers are a big draw for hummingbirds, but I can't get them in a still shot, no matter how long I wait in the dense vegetation, ticks and mosquitoes. The birds hover and check me out, but are so fleeting in their nectaring that I can't focus quickly enough. So I present instead, flowers, since they stay still for me!


Sunday, July 30, 2023

A Murder of ...

 ... cherries! I think that that collective noun fits cherries better than crows! As I pitted them, even my face got splashed with red, bloody-looking droplets.

I don't know how many times I had to wipe my counter, too.

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Xmas in July

When I saw these bright colors in my yard, I immediately thought of Xmas holly!

Those brightly colored blisters belong to the oak leaf gall midge - Polystepha pilulae, a long legged mosquito-like fly. The midge larvae develop within the leaves until it's time to hatch. The galls for this species are always made on the top surface of oak leaves.

When you look at their texture up close, they're quite beautiful

Their presence does not signify disease; it just appears 'out of place' in our ordered view of how we see our yards.

Friday, July 28, 2023

Swirling Waters


This is the view of the Presumpscot River from the Westbrook River Walk terrace. Lots of churning going on

The Saccarappa Falls and Blacks Bridge are visible upstream, where the town has constructed an environmentally sound fish passage. Yay, Westbrook!

Thursday, July 27, 2023


This is Lucidota atra, known as both the black firefly and the woodland lucy - its exquisite antennae are striking (all the better to detect female pheromones, my dear!). This species is diurnal.

I found the common eastern firefly, Photinus pyralis, at my kitchen sink, so released it outside after it sat fleetingly for a quick portrait. Both are native to the northeastern U.S.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Bugs n Blooms


Umm, does he feed her/let her feed to distract her from what he's doing?

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Pattern Fascination

 What do you think this could be?

I saw these fascinating patterns in the pollen residue on the front surface of a stainless steel grill. It looked as if light rain or dew had dripped slowly down the surface, but the etched-looking markings made us think differently.

It appears that tiny worms may have been feeding in the pollen, making these intriguing lines.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Fly City


A speckled water lily! Speckled and busy with bugs, that is.

The central portion looks like a daisy, set in a Jello mold!

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Ghostly Rockets

These white, woolly-looking rocket ships with fluffy boosters are planthopper larvae. I found them on my Virginia creeper after another period of rain and swampy, humid conditions.

This one fell onto the deck, so you can appreciate how small it is next to a nailhead. I tried to nudge it onto a stick and it rocketed away like a flea would.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Friday, July 21, 2023

Beautiful Bladderwort

This exquisitely beautiful and sunny common bladderwort has the unfortunate scientific name of Utricularia vulgaris. Vulgar it is not, but the reference is to its common-ness.

And as for Utricularia, well,  Merriam Webster says:

a large widely distributed genus of aquatic plants (family Lentibulariaceae) having saclike ascidia that serve as animal traps, floating stems with finely dissected leaves, and scapose often showy flowers with a very irregular spurred bilabiate corolla.
(Merriam Webster)

Saclike ascidia! Scapose flowers! Irregular spurred bilabiate corolla! Okay. To me the flower in profile looks like the cartoon character Daffy Duck.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Abuzz with Bugs

I wanted to get a pic of this blister beetle on my milkweed plant, and noticed afterwards that there were AT LEAST 11 insects busy on it at the same time! Phenomenal and impressive!

Include a few natives in your garden to help our pollinators ...

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Red Sac

I thought I was photographing a bright red fungus on this decomposing oak leaf, but was amazed to discover that it is in fact the egg sac of a spider in the genus Phrurotimpus! They're also known as ant mimic or guardstone spiders.

It's quite striking, and looks a lot like a limpet. Mom was nowhere to be seen.

Monday, July 17, 2023



This unusual looking fly with a long beak for mouthparts is called the scorpionfly (Panorpa communis), not because it stings (it's completely harmless), but because the male has a posterior protrusion that resembles a scorpion tail, the orange convolution of which is vaguely visible between its wings.

Apparently the male clasps the female on his back so his appendage can curl up and into her ovipositor for fertilization.

Their elongated mouthparts enable them to feed on fresh decaying plant and animal matter. Forensic entomologists know that if scorpionflies are present on a cadaver, it's still relatively fresh, 1-2 days old.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Raspberry Joy


At last I have one!

Purple flowr'ing raspberry -

Behold its beauty.


Saturday, July 15, 2023

Likin' Lichens

A beautiful lichen pattern on a beech tree

 How detailed in close up!

So much texturing!

Friday, July 14, 2023

Squirrel Darlings

We were recently graced with the presence of 2 squirrels on our deck at the same time, albeit full of noisy chattering and posturing in between chasing chipmunks. This young one got really close to me, allowing me to wallow in her perfection.

Look at this exquisitely magnificent, gorgeous tail

The other squirrel is well known to us, with a deep fork in her tail. She's molting and is more grey and disheveled-looking by comparison with this sleek newcomer to the perils of outdoor life.

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Spider Mom

We've all heard of Tiger Moms and also Spiderman, but this is a whole new scenario ... may I present Spider Mom:

Wolf spiders don't make nests, so they must carry their big egg sac around with them wherever they go. Once hatched, the babies ride on her back as she hunts for food on the ground. They don't make webs to catch their prey, so she must carry her babies with her as she stalks prey -what a burden! I think I can easily count 22 bodies on her back - eek! That means at least 176 legs to account for!

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Spotlight on Partidgeberry

This delightful little native, Mitchella repens, an easily overlooked evergreen groundcover in North American forests, goes by the common names patridgeberry or twinberry.

It produces teeny little flowers that occur in pairs from a shared calyx. They start off as little pink buds:

The flowers become white as they mature and open (only about ½" long). They have a perfect way to prevent self fertilization - one of the flowers has a long pistil and short stamens, and the other has the opposite arrangement: a short pistil and long stamens. It's quite difficult to see clearly when the flower is all white, as in this capture, but if you look closely, a long pistil is visible on the left hand bloom, but not on the other.

Another amazing feature of this plant is that BOTH flowers must be fertilized in order to produce ONE berry, since they are actually formed from one shared base.

Indigenous people's use and knowledge of plants has always fascinated me, so I'm including this nugget: First Nations women drank a tea from the leaves and berries during childbirth.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Bottoms and Bloomers

This beaked hazelnut looks incredibly voluptuous to me! No surprise there 😊. I see a nicely rounded bottom in a pair of bloomers with frilly edges.