Photo of the Week – May 7, 2015

As I’ve said many times, the prairie is an ecosystem best seen up close.  You have to look carefully to see much of the beauty.  Dillon (one of our Hubbard Fellows) and I were poking around today and found this yellow wood sorrel flower.  It looked as if an artistic child had been playing with a hole punch.  There were a few scattered holes in nearby blossoms but this was the only one that looked as if it had been purposefully accented.  Any insect smarties out there know what might have made the holes?

Wood sorrel (Oxalis stricta) with insect holes.  TNC Platte River Prairies, Nebraska.

Yellow wood sorrel (Oxalis stricta) with insect holes. The Nature Conservancy’s Platte River Prairies, Nebraska.

This is the season of small statured wildflowers.  Puccoon, ragwort, locoweed, wood sorrel and many others are just starting to bloom.  Perhaps the most ostentatiously-colored of our spring flowers, however, is purple poppy mallow.  This one was just getting ready to open today.

Purple poppy mallow (Callirhoe involucrata).  TNC Platte River Prairies, Nebraska.

Purple poppy mallow (Callirhoe involucrata). The Nature Conservancy’s Platte River Prairies, Nebraska.

Purple poppy mallow (Callirhoe involucrata).  TNC Platte River Prairies, Nebraska.

Another look at the same flower.

We’ve been getting a lot of rain lately, which bodes well for a good wildflower season, at least for the next month or so.  We’ll see what kind of weather the El Nino brings after that.  We might get really wet or really dry.  For now, I’ll enjoy the colors.

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About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is the Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska. His main role is to evaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration work and then share those lessons with other landowners – both private and public. In addition, Chris works to raise awareness about the importance of prairies and their conservation through his writing, photography, and presentations to various groups. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press. He lives in Aurora, Nebraska with his wife Kim and their children.
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4 Responses to Photo of the Week – May 7, 2015

  1. Karen Hamburger says:

    Are there leaf cutter bees active already?? Pretty small for that.
    They look like the holes that are showing up in my spinach. I blame leaf hoppers for that,

    Karen

  2. Linda says:

    It sure looks like the work of leaf cutter bees, but do they use flower petals?

  3. jlhopwood says:

    I’m thinking that maybe a caterpillar chewed a tunnel through the flower just before the petals unfurled.

    Leaf cutter bees obtain pieces of leaves or petals from the outer edge rather than from the middle.

    • Lisa says:

      I like the caterpillar explanation. All the holes are evenly spaced from the edge – not the work of random grazing.

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