Good friend and photo buddy, Dan Olson, texted this morning that he was going out on a photo shoot for a couple of hours. He had a total knee replacement on his right knee about 4 weeks ago, and is slowly recovering despite the pain. We first visited Middle Fork Barrens Natural Area, our all time favorite place to photograph butterflies. It was still a bit early and heavy dew was on the plants; at first, the butterflies were far and few between.
Our first find was a robber fly, also known as an assassin fly. They are powerfully built, bristly flies with a short, stout proboscis enclosing the sharp, sucking hypopharynx. Robber fly insects are a mixed blessing to gardeners; if they’re seriously perturbed, they can inflict a painful bite, but they also help rid the garden of harmful pests like grasshoppers, other flies, wasps, leafhoppers, white grubs and pupating beetles. Both Dan and I have become enamored with them, and most of the time we see them, they are eating prey.
Next, an Asiatic Dayflower presented itself adjacent to the road pathway. Commelina communis, commonly known as the Asiatic dayflower, is an herbaceous annual plant in the dayflower family. It gets its name because the blooms last for only one day. It is native throughout much of East Asia and northern parts of Southeast Asia. Across the path was a Cardinal Flower, perhaps the first I’ve seen.
After an hour of wandering, the butterflies and dragonflies began go appear. We saw an isolated Dun Skipper and Southern Broken-dash Skipper here and there, and lots of Carolina Satyrs. Also, a few dragonflies kept still enough to photograph.
From Middle Fork Barrens Natural Area, Dan drove abound places where we had observed blooms and butterflies this time last year. The thistle was a few days from reaching peak bloom, thus the absence of nectaring butterflies. As a final stop, we walked the fence line at McClellan Beaver Dam Trail in Hot Springs Village. There we saw wildflowers, dragonflies, and butterflies, including the rare to us, Zabulon Skipper. (L to R: Guara, Horace’s Duskywing, Southern Brokenn-dash, Guara, Southern Broken-dash and Thistle, Guara, Common Whitetail Dragonfly, Dainty Sulphur, Red-banded Hairstreak, Southern Broken-dash, Zabulon Skipper, Zabulon Skipper and Southern Broken-dash on Thistle.
I arrived home just after 12 noon, and Karyn and the grandkids were there, all hyped up to go swimming. They returned from swimming a little more sedate, and played with their tablets and watched Netflix and YouTube. We all went to bed really early.