Photo of the Week – September 3, 2015

Recently, we’ve been seeing some very pretty sunrises and sunsets (and moon rises, for that matter) because of a thin veil of smoke in the sky from the western U.S. wildfires.  That diffused light makes pretty good opportunities for photos, and I’ve been trying to take advantage of those when I can.

Last Saturday, I drove to a nearby town to do some shopping, but took my camera along.  I ended up stopping briefly at a restored prairie on both the way there and back because the light was so nice – even at around noon – and the wind was barely blowing.  Here is a selection of photos from the day.

Sphinx moth. Deep Well Wildlife Management Area.

A sphinx moth feeds on nectar from a tall thistle (Cirsium altissimum). Thistles were abundant in this prairie, as were bumblebees, other bees, butterflies, moths, and many other insects feeding on pollen and nectar from them.  Deep Well Wildlife Management Area, near Phillips, Nebraska.

Rough white lettuce (Prenanthes aspera) Deep Well Wildlife Management Area.

Rough white lettuce (Prenanthes aspera).  This is not a common species in this area, so it was nice to see a healthy population growing in a cropfield-converted-to-prairie.  The site was restored by Prairie Plains Resource Institute and owned/managed by Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Katydid. Deep Well Wildlife Management Area.

This is a very attractive little katydid (a female because of the ovipositor – the egg-laying tube coming out the back).  However, I couldn’t ever manage to photograph an even more attractive katydid that was colored both bright green and purple.  Gorgeous, but skittish.

Indiangrass. Deep Well Wildlife Management Area.

Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans) was reaching the tail end of its blooming period.   These anthers have lost their bright yellow color and will probably fall soon.

Butterflies. Deep Well Wildlife Management Area.

These eastern-tailed blue butterflies let me get close enough for a photo before flying off (still attached) to a more private location.

Damselfly on monarda. Deep Well Wildlife Management Area.

I had fun watching this damselfly but am still not sure what it was doing.  It was flying up to plants and bumping its “nose” against them repeatedly while moving up and down the stems.  I wonder if it was looking for insects to eat but I’ve never noticed this kind of behavior before.  It would bump plants for 15 or 20 seconds and then find a perch to sit on for a while before starting out again.

Rosinweed (Silphium integrifolium) Deep Well Wildlife Management Area.

Entire-leaf rosinweed (Silphium integrifolium) was done blooming and well into its senescence last weekend.  Summer must be nearly over…  That was quick.

This entry was posted in Prairie Insects, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography and tagged , , , , , , , , by Chris Helzer. Bookmark the permalink.

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.

5 thoughts on “Photo of the Week – September 3, 2015

  1. I rarely make it out to prairies, so am glad to be able to see it in posts like this. I do get to see various kinds of insects on some native blooms in our yard, though. How cool to see the damselfly doing something you haven’t noticed before!


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