NATURE NOTES OF S.E. MINNESOTA
Thursday, June 14, 2012
We found this unusual plant called Prairie Smoke on Hayden Prairie in northeast Iowa. If you find this flower, you are looking at a true praire flower and it is a marker for authentic prairies. Blooming in late May or early June, the delicate whisps (sepals) will blow with the wind. A short flower, they tend to grow in clumps.
About five miles from our home, in a road ditch adjacent to an old railroad bed, is a prairie remnant. Prairie Phlox is one of the many true prairie flowers that still bloom there. These flowers mark a quality prairie remnant. Old railroad beds are often a great place to find prairie flowers, because the railroads used flame throwers in the old days to burn off the weeds. The prairie flowers could withstand the burning better than the alien weeds.
DRAGONFLIES AND MORE PRAIRIE FLOWERS
Wild parsnip is an alien invader that is spreading all over. You can often find it in road ditches. This is a plant you should avoid. Contact with this plant combined with sweat and sunlight can cause a severe burn and blistering. A friend of ours even ended up in the hospital after too much contact with this plant. It pulls easily if the soil is moist (wear gloves and long sleeved shirt). If the soil is dry, cut the root twice with a shovel. It will not come back.
Friday, June 1, 2012
BUTTERFLIES ARE BECOMING COMMON
During this past week many new butterflies have emerged. Now instead of chasing birds with cameras in hand, we are pursuing the butterflies. We have several species pictured below.
The Great Spangled Fritillary is a large (3.5 in) and common butterfly over much of the United States. This butterfly seems to prefer wet meadows or marshland edges as its primary habitat. We have a great hatch of fritillaries this year.