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Thursday, May 2, 2013

April Flowers and May Moths

The weather last weekend didn't end up being conducive to much more picture taking, but I did get out to a COASST survey at Fourth of July Beach, and as per usual the live birds were the most interesting find as there were no stranded birds. I was surprised to see a trio of killdeer there, and hanging out with them was a small flock of least sandpipers (149) and a single western sandpiper (150). 

This week, however, has seen some more beautiful, warm spring weather. On Tuesday afternoon I took a walk at American Camp where more wildflowers are blooming every day. 

Small-flowered lupine (Lupinus polycarpus)

Meadow death-camas (Zygadenus veneosus)

Common camas (Camassia quamash)

One of my favorite wildflowers is also one of the smallest. It's very easily overlooked - the small-flowered forget-me-not:

Small-flowered forget-me-not (Myosotis laxa)
Here's another shot with my thumb in it to show just how small they are. The flowers are only 2-5mm wide.

I'm not sure what this plant is, but it also had very small white flowers:

I was surprised to see a mosquito (or a close relative) feeding on some English daisies. As annoying as they can be, only the females are blood suckers and only during parts of their life cycle, so it makes sense that the rest of the time they're another useful species of insect pollinator.

I also came across this very cooperative butterfly:

Common checkered skipper (Pyrgus communis)
It stayed completely still as I slowly made my approach and took a few pictures. When I glanced down at my camera to check a setting, it made a quick getaway, as when I looked back up it was no where in sight. My field guide says this is probably the most common American skipper species, but I haven't noticed it here before.

These interesting insect sightings were trumped by a surprising find today on the sidewalk in front of the office at work. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw this ceanothus silk moth:

Ceanothus silk moth (Hyalophora euryalus)

These are the kind of moths you see pictures of in books and magazines, but I've never seen one in real life. They're mostly nocturnal, which explains why I haven't seen one before, but WOW! Also known as the Nike moth (for the swooshes on its wings), the larva feed on plants of the Ceanothus genus which explains their other common name. I was surprised to see Douglas fir and madrone are also on their list of host plants/food - I guess this is good habitat for them here!

The giant silk moth family, so named for the large silk cocoons they spin, contains some of the most stunning moth species in the world. I believe this one is a male due to the large size of the feathery antennae. The adults only live for 2-3 days, but males may fly up to 20 miles in that time as they track down females by scent.

Yet another example of how you just never know what you're going to see - or where you're going to see it!

1 comment:

Vera said...

Fantastic photos and very interesting blog. The moth is amazing and I also really like the forget-me-nots.