|Silvery Checkerspot on early dogbane blossoms - REK|
Dogbane grows freely in fields and open areas, prefers moisture but is thriving on our upper hayfield. The "cannabinum" might stir excitement in a lawman's heart but it comes from Cannabis as a fiber plant like hemp, and fiber is one reason why we protect it, but more on that later.
|Spittlebug home - REK|
During the early summer most of the dark red stems have a little bit of drool concealing a tiny green bug, butt up in the air, blowing froth of dilute digested xylem out its rectum. If you set aside the yuck factor and wipe away the bubbles, the little guys are actually cute! These are the nymphs of froghoppers, little athletes capable of hopping 2 feet in the air. They are well worth the blog focused on them alone.
|Spittlebug exposed - REK|
The broad head of flowers attracts a wide variety of pollinators including bees, flower flies, wasps, butterflies and moths. The USDA/ NRCS ranks its value to pollinators as "very high." Pennsylvania leatherwings (Chauliognathus pensylvanicus) are attracted to their pollen and their larvae attack many other insects. Tachinid flies visit the flowers and lay their eggs on stinkbugs, Japanese beetles and other pests where their larvae grow up eating inside them until they die or at least don't reproduce. Birds even use the fibrous fluff of the seeds for nesting material.
"Chrysochus auratus iridescence "changes color because of stacks of tiny slanting plates, under which is a pigment. Some light rays reflect from the surface of the plates, and other light rays reflect from the pigment underneath. At different angles, the light reflects at different speeds, causing interference and resulting in our seeing different colors that shine."The eggs are laid in the soil or on the plant and the larvae tunnel in the soil to feed on dogbane or milkweed roots. The adults are able to defend themselves by giving off a foul odor like many other beetles. The best approach to them is to photograph them and enjoy them at a distance.
|Colors we can't reproduce - Nature Web|
|Dogbane cordage - REK|