As July fades into August you can feel everything winding down, going into autumn mode. The milkweed and thistle plants have largely been pollinated and have started going to seed. Aphid populations have grown so dense that they are producing winged aphids (alates) that can leave the nest, so to speak; and ladybugs in all stages of life, as well as orb-weaving spiders, are still around to prey on them.
There are still some late-blooming monarch caterpillars, but fully grown monarch butterflies have been out and about for a while. Meanwhile, other species are even further along. The skeletonizing leaf beetles are nearing the end of their life cycle; most of them are pregnant now, getting ready to lay eggs that will hatch in the spring. The tussock moth caterpillars are just getting big. They’ll pupate over the winter and hatch next year.
Since my last visit to the lakeside, there’s a whole new crop of increasingly bizarre insect babies to be found on milkweed, thistle, and goldenrod. Photos and explanations after the jump, brought to you by that weird person who stares at leaves.
From the closing paragraph of Darwin’s Origin of Species:
It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us.
My own “tangled bank” is the little strip of land between Gus Ryder Pool and the lake. I find it endlessly fascinating to check on during lakeshore walks. It’s amazing what you can see when you look closely. Here’s what was going on when I visited it Sunday evening. Continue reading Tangled Bank