June 8, 2015

The Joy of June

Quite a bit of time has passed since my last blog post! My excuses involve lots of time spent exploring spring in Ohio and a reluctance to spend much time at the computer. Add in a daughter's May wedding and the blog has simply not been a top priority. I'll try to get back here when possible, though!

Bill and I did a day trip this past weekend that reminded us how special June can be here in the midwest. Many of the summer flowers are starting to bloom and few have begun to fade. For years we concentrated on the ephemeral spring bloomers, and more recently on the profusion of mid to late summer prairie plants, but June has its own special charm. 

I almost called this post "Roadside Botany" because basically this trip involved driving south along back roads in Jackson, Scioto and Adams Counties, looking for whatever happened to be in bloom. (As you'll see, "Summer Spangles" also could have been the title!) We planned this trip around trying to see several of Ohio's milkweeds in bloom (thanks to help from Andrew Gibson), and in the process saw lots of other interesting plants, butterflies and even one gigantic spider (arachnophobes beware!).

The weather was glorious and I just wish I could share the fresh summer smells and the sounds of the wood thrushes and the prairie, Kentucky, cerulean and blue-winged warblers, among many others. I'll keep the narration to a minimum and let the photos speak for themselves!

Early morning in Jackson County

Blunt-leaved milkweed, with its unusual curly-edged leaves, grew
in just a few spots by the side of the road.

I loved the morning light on this Great Spangled Fritillary as it rested on a berry bush.

Although they are not native to North America, I never get tired of Oxeye Daisies.

Yarrow is another humble plant that is often overlooked but that grows in a
range of habitats, brightening many landscapes.

Purple Milkweed was one of our target species and
it was spectacular.

Yellow Crownbeard was just starting to bloom.

From Jackson County we headed to Shawnee State Forest. The habitat here was quite different, featuring many more woodland, shade-tolerant plants.

The male flowers of Goatsbeard brightened the shady roadsides.

American Ipecac is a lovely and unusual June bloomer.

Quite unusual in Ohio, Fairywand can be found in a few spots
in Shawnee State Forest. This is a female plant.

A Northern Cloudywing butterfly on red clover, an excellent nectar source.

Bill spotted this huge female wolf spider, carrying about a zillion
babies on her back. Check YouTube for bizarre videos of people
finding them in their homes, poking them with a broom, and freaking out when
all those babies bail out.

The exquisite White Milkweed grows in the shade in a few southern Ohio counties.
Here it is being investigated by yet another Great Spangled Fritillary.

Wild Hydrangea brightens many shady roadsides in Shawnee and can do
well in the home garden, attracting beneficial pollinators.

I love the combination of the Blanketflower and the Pale-spiked Lobelia. 

We also spent some time in Adams County, where we spotted another milkweed just starting to bloom:

Orange Milkweed, hosting still another Great Spangled Fritillary! 
And here is one more:

A Southern Cloudywing sitting on top of Antelope-Horn or Spider Milkweed

Our last stop of the day was at Adams Lake State Park, where we spotted one of Ohio's most stunning dragonflies, the Spangled Skimmer.

Here are a couple more photos, based on a corollary to the fact that any food is better with bacon--any photo is better with Great Spangled Fritillaries!! Needless to say, these butterflies are abundant right now, and there is no such thing as too many!

Great Spangled Fritillary on Wild Hydrangea. 

Great Spangled Fritillaries on Purple Milkweed

For a beautiful and informative photo essay on Ohio's 13 species of native milkweeds by Andrew Gibson, check this link.

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