Sunday, August 8, 2010


Last Sunday I drove to that land in Kansas and discovered Surprise lilies (Lycoris squamigera) in full bloom. I think if you could time it right, you could make popcorn and then eat it while all the Surprise lilies popped out of the ground with just as much speed. They sure are fast at doing what every other flower does at a much more sensible time of year.

I found them blooming by the creek too...that spot near the raccoon latrine. I had a suspicion that the crazy big leaves that were in that area this spring were not daffodils. I completely forgot about Surprise lilies. It's been a long time since I've grown any. Turtles, you know.

The jewelweed (Impatiens pallida) was still in bloom. Nothing new there.

Nearby were the Mimulus alatus (sharpwing monkeyflower). This is the first time I've ever seen it and it was blooming in all sorts of places...even in the creek.

Two weeks ago when I visited the land, I was anxious to get out there because it had been raining so much. I thought that the day after Saturday's really big deluge, I would be able to witness something amazing. When I saw the creek the next day on Sunday, it was the driest I had ever seen it. When I was out there this past Sunday, the creek was even drier.

A little frog (he's right in the middle there) that should have been hiding in or near water...

...was out on a big flat rock giving me a staredown.

I'm not sure what it is about some frogs, but if you look at them and then blink, they turn 90 degrees before you open your eyes again. They don't want you to know that you were the subject of their staredown.

Sometimes they do a 180 before you open your eyes.

But give them a few blinks, and they're back to where they started.

That water level was low.

Low enough to uncover some arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia) which I had never seen growing along the creek before.

And then there was this unfortunate little guy. There isn't as much water in the creek but this poor little caterpillar managed to find a spot where it was deep enough for him to drown. He's an Ellida caniplaga caterpillar who would have grown up to become a Linden Prominent moth (thanks BugGuide) if he hadn't pulled an Ophelia. These caterpillars are not photographed often because they spend their lives at the tops of linden trees and don't climb down until it's time for them to pupate, probably what this guy was doing when he took a wrong step. Or maybe something more dramatic was going on because that is one Millais worthy pose.

Anyway, there were other pretty butterflies in the area to be discovered, such as this Eastern Tailed-Blue butterfly...

...and Little Wood Satyr.

The orb weavers have started to build their eye level webs again. This was the first web I walked through this year and of course, this guy jumped on my head and didn't want to get off. Eeeeugh. Spined Micrathena spiders are the freakiest looking things.

From then on I was onto them. I ducked and walked around any slight shimmer of a web and I think they were disappointed that I didn't walk through any of them because apparently they consider me a good catch and did not want me to get away. Some of them were bold about their intentions...

And some of them tried to make themselves really inconspicuous, thinking I could never see such an invisible, well-hidden spider hanging in mid-air....right in front of my face.

But I was onto them and their various strategies. Nobody caught me after that first spider.

There are always a lot of stink bugs in the area but this is the first time I ever met a dusky stink bug (Euschistus tristigmus). He's situated himself on a seedpod of some prairie mimosa.

His underside was a brilliant bright yellow and for a stinkbug, I thought he was very pretty.

Close by was one of his young relatives.

My biggest discovery of the day was this.......chanterelle mushrooms. At least I think they're chanterelles. I'm not going to eat any until an expert confirms this and even then.....but at least I know they're there if that's what they turn out to be. That was my best discovery of the day.

And then there was my weirdest discovery to date......

At one time there used to be a house on the land until it burned down. After everything was cleared, all that was left was the foundation. And in the middle of that foundation was a small square where the old fireplace used to be. Last week, some mysterious person visited my land for who knows what reason, to spend some time excavating that spot. The beer cans or the one lost shoe, those things I can understand when I find them. Country teens tend to lose things, but someone to spend so much time in the hot sun when it's been around 100 degrees every day? Just mystifying. I kind of want to know... what were they looking for? What was buried there? Did they find it? And....will they be back?

Rie suggests it's the work of satanists and to be on alert for pentagrams. Rie thinks there are gold bars hidden under the foundation. I'm thinking it's probably connected with the volunteer water department but even then....what a curious thing to discover.


Leenie said...

I was beginning to think you'd gone missing. But you just went to Kansas.

Great tour of the flora and fauna on your property! Only thing I missed was the Aussie Dog. Had to biggify to see Mr. Staredown Frog. The Blue and Saytr butterflies are familiar. They come out here when the raspberries ripen. Don't know if there is a connection.

I can just see the spider telling her friends about the big Thing she has wrapped up and stashed in her web. "Gonna last me all winter. Won't have to catch anything else!"

As for the mystery hole. Gotta be treasure hunters. It's not big enough for a body...yet.

snakey said...

hey! i had a few of those mushrooms in my front yard this year. i didn't know what they were. i love the name.

LOL @ leenie's comment about the size of the hole!

Maria said...

Leenie-Yeah, I just went Kansas. Ha ha ha.

And I KNOW. I don't think I've seen Aussie in at least a month. I'm hoping she's being kept inside because of the heat. I very much miss that dog because I consider her a good friend.

Yeah, that one frog picture could have been cropped in a little better but they really are almost invisible until you sense there is something somewhere giving you a staredown. The raspberries are ripe down here too...I'll have to remember that next year because that little blue butterfly was gorgeous. I really did feel like prey to those spiders because they never ran away from me. I'd see a web and I swear they came running to be front and center.

You didn't say anything about the stink bug and his stink eye...I almost did in my post. Hahaha.

Yeah, that's definitely a mystery hole. I'll let you know when the body shows up.

Later, Potatohead.

Cathy-I'm still not sure if that's what they are. I got invited to Peyton's birthday party last week (because he owes me for winning our cicada contest for oh.....two decades?). Anyway, his wife is from Germany and we started talking about mushrooming and she told me what books to get, what classes to take, etc. etc. and then when I described the orange fluted mushrooms I had been seeing she lit up because she said those were chanterelles. I didn't think so but she kept saying they probably were. I might have to bring her out to identify them for me... if they are chanterelles......they were too easy to find, you know?

Leenie said...

stink eye--hehe

Mental P Mama said...

Okay. Now I'm all concerned about who's been digging in that fireplace. Other than that, these shots are awesome. As always;)

Maureen said...

Okay, you lost me with the spiders. Seen any enormous hornets yet? Got attacked by one in the Ozarks, stung me three times, was sick for a week.

Maria said...

Maureen-I think of your story every time I get buzzed by something. If I've got something following and buzzing me, I leave the area and head for the car and call it a day. Yeah. Those spiders make me shiver. Eeeeee. In the next month the woods will be covered with them and I think I"m going to have to invest in a great big sombrero to keep them off my face. Eeeeeee.

Mental-It's always something but never anything much. My friend Meg who lives in the area said to get ready for a whole lot of weird things happening before I actually start living there. I think this is just the first big mystery among many.

Rural Rambler said...

Great pictures Maria! Poor caterpillar :( My Surprise lilies have just about given us their last surprise. I love them but thought they were a little early this year. Stink bugs. I have seen quite a few but never smelled their stink, those Asian lady beetles are enough stink for me for a lifetime. A couple billion have died in the workshop/garage and they stink so bad right now that the inside of both our vehicles stink too. Love the little frog. Frogs pack alot personality in a small little body! The excavation by the fireplace, creepy Maria. That would really creep me out.

Eve said...

So you own the land the hole was dug?? I would be concerned. Very odd.
I loved the walk! Great critters...but I have a hard time getting past the spiders! I usually bring a long stick to wave in front as I go...but I like your tactic to be able to get pictures. JUST DON'T WANT THEM ON ME!! I guess youre telling me it's time to get out in the woods! Thanks Maria!