Bugs and Flowers

Posted: May 4th, 2009 under photography, Plantlife, Wildlife.
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This is the season when all my plans for writing sensible, helpful, organized entries about this or that aspect of our project go blooey…because since we finally got some rain, the flowers (and their insect “friends”) are burgeoning and all I want to do is take pictures and say “Look!  Look at this one!”    For instance, stiff-stem prairie flax,  Linum berlandieri, gold from a distance, but up close decorated with delicate, precise lines of dark orange.


The flax is short–never more than six inches tall–and over and around it are other beauties, like this gaura (I think it’s white gaura, Gaura lindheimeri):


One of the many yellow natives we’re glad to have is Engelmann’s Daisy, Engelmannia peristenia.  It survived years of overgrazing to reappear just a couple of years ago.


I haven’t IDed that humpbacked fly on its petal yet.

While working in the vegetable garden today,  I noticed a red and black ‘bug’ of some sort on one of the sunflowers, so when I was through I went back to the house for the camera–and the insects were still there (on a different sunflower.


From this angle, it just looked like a small colorful beetle,  but from the other side of the leaf, it was clearly contemplating lunch:


I think this is a weevil named Rhodobaenus tredecimpunctatus…and I do know it’s got 13 spots.   And it’s a new species for our list.

Also in the garden, I found this black flower scarab beetle with wrinkly elytra:


I planted that flower to attract butterflies, not beetles!   Another of the same species was nose-down in another Engelmann’s Daisy, and I’ve photographed this kind before, on both dogbane and cow parsley.


  • Comment by cdozo — May 4, 2009 @ 4:03 pm


    Your flowers are so beautiful! The gaura is so pretty and delicate. And I love the weevil. They are such funny/cool looking bugs.

    Beetles are beginning to grow on me. I like the wide variety in their colors and antennas. I don’t like their grabby sticky feet when they land on me.

  • Comment by elizabeth — May 4, 2009 @ 6:04 pm


    Thanks–you should have some gaura on your place, too. There are both the white (this one, I think) and ‘crimson’ gaura. Every evening, the white petals open, but after a day they turn pink and fall down to decorate the rest of the stem, and new ones open above them.

    Beetles are…just incredible. I have no hope of ever learning all of them, but I hope to learn *some*. I used to think weevils were in the true bug group–only found out they were beetles in the last year, DUH–and always thought they were ugly and dull. But they’re actually kind of clownish. Not if they’re eating your grain, though.

  • Comment by gunhilda — May 4, 2009 @ 6:46 pm


    Wow, those are lovely. I never thought about photographing weevils before, but this might change my mind.

  • Comment by elizabeth — May 4, 2009 @ 7:23 pm


    When I realized how useful photographs could be (they hold still; they don’t require me to lug a pack of field guides out to the land), I started photographing *everything*. Everything that I could, at least. In the process, I’ve found many critters that I’d never thought of as photogenic were actually very interesting and sometimes even pretty or funny.

    I’ve got a lot of photos up at my LiveJournal,
    http://pics.livejournal.com/e_moon60/ and they’re divided into galleries by taxonomy. However, uploading photos there is much more difficult than doing it here, so eventually I’ll have photos organized on the 80acresonline website.

  • Comment by Rosanne — May 5, 2009 @ 6:28 am


    Pretty! I especially like the gaura.

    I love the random wildflowers that are popping up around here, too. I’ll have to get pics. There’s a big white flower that shows up mostly in fallow fields, and a smaller, orchid-like one that’s showing up in yards and occasionally roadside. I finally took some samples of a gorgeous purple roadside flower to our local nursery. He told me it was silver nightshade… not QUITE as bad as “deadly” nightshade :o)

  • Comment by Rosanne — May 5, 2009 @ 6:38 am


    Looking it up, I see that it should read “silverleaf” nightshade. After a rain, with the dust washed away, the plant practically glows…


    This one’s a little better, color-wise:


    ~ Rosanne

  • Comment by elizabeth — May 5, 2009 @ 7:17 am


    We have that one. It takes over in disturbed/abused ground, like many other tough plants that can stand compacted soil, heat, and drought. It can, however, be crowded out by other plants, especially dense turf. It’s stingy–though not as bad as a yellow-flowered relative of it called ‘buffalo bur’, Solanum rostratum. That one causes intense and lasting pain if you contact the spines. Various small animals eat the yellow berries of the silverleaf nightshade, so I don’t consider it a noxious weed but another wildlife support plant. If you see a field or lot covered with it–that’s a result of bad land management.

  • Comment by Rosanne — May 5, 2009 @ 5:52 pm


    I enjoyed reading about it – apparently, the Indians used the berries when making cheese, and combined the seeds with brain matter to use in tanning hides. Roots grow to a depth of 6 to 10 feet!


    We just see it along the roadside, so it’s usually pretty scruffy. After a rain, though, the healthy ones are beautiful.

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