Photo of the Week – August 8, 2013

A little more than a week ago, I took a walk through one of the restored wetlands here in the Platte River Prairies, enjoying the abundance of wildflowers and other life.  Here are a few photos from that walk.  You can click on any of the photos to see a sharper version of it.

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Prairie gentian (Eustoma grandflorum) was blooming in pockets of the wetland.  It's always one of the more striking flowers in wetlands and wet prairies, but it is an annual, so its abundance changes drastically from year to year.

Prairie gentian (Eustoma grandflorum) was blooming in pockets of the wetland. It’s always one of the more striking flowers in wetlands and wet prairies, but it is an annual, so its abundance changes drastically from year to year.

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A paper wasp was feeding on nectar from swamp milkweed.  I'll share some more images and a story about this wasp in an upcoming post.

A paper wasp was feeding on nectar from swamp milkweed. I’ll share some more images and a story about this wasp in an upcoming post.

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Winged lythrum (Lythrum alatum) is a native wildflower that is closely related to purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) - an invasive plant.  Both are great plants for pollinators, but only one can take over the plant community in a wetland...

Winged lythrum (Lythrum alatum) is a native wildflower that is closely related to purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) – an invasive plant. Both are great plants for pollinators, but only one can take over the plant community in a wetland…

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Plains coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria) is an abundant annual wildflower in many wetlands in central Nebraska.

Plains coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria) is an abundant annual wildflower in many wetlands in central Nebraska.

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This snail's shell looked like polished wood as it moved across a piece of driftwood, washed up along the bank of a side channel of the stream.

This snail’s shell looked like polished wood as it moved across a piece of driftwood, washed up along the bank of a side channel of the stream.

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A tachynid fly on a coreopsis flower.

A tachynid fly on a coreopsis flower.

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Swamp milkweed is having a great year in our prairies.  While it's a perennial plant, we don't always see it blooming in abundance.  It's always nice when it does.

Swamp milkweed is having a great year in our prairies. While it’s a perennial plant, we don’t always see it blooming in abundance. It’s always nice when it does.

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About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is an ecologist and Eastern Nebraska Program Director for The Nature Conservancy. He supervises the management and restoration of approximately 4,000 acres of land in central and eastern Nebraska - primarily along the central Platte River. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press.
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8 Responses to Photo of the Week – August 8, 2013

  1. Ed May says:

    Love your photography Chris!

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. James McGee says:

    I’m waiting for your post about the wasp to tell you a story an ecologist might find interesting.

    James

  3. Mike Suiter says:

    Chris – do you see Swamp Milkweed doing anything in mesic conditions in your prairies? I put some seed down in December 2011 but the 2 dry summers since probably didn’t give it a chance. I’m hoping I might see some when we get a summer with average rain.

    • Chris Helzer says:

      Mike, it usually needs fairly wet soil, in my experience. Wet-mesic, maybe.

      • James McGee says:

        Gardener’s often succeed with Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) in dappled shade that is mesic. I have seen it growing happily on rather dry banks five or more feet above a pond. I think it can handle less water when competition from other species typical of the habitat has been eliminated.
        James

  4. Sue says:

    Beautiful pictures.

  5. James C. Trager says:

    Something about that fly says “not tachinid” to me. I’ll get back to you if I can find out more…

  6. Pingback: The Softer Side of Wasps | The Prairie Ecologist

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