Square Meter of Prairie Project – July 2018

Quick note – registration is still open for the 2018 Grassland Restoration Network workshop (September 5-6) in Illinois.  Click here for more information and/or to register.  It’ll be worth your time!

The square meter photography project continues!  Throughout this calendar year, I’m trying to document as much beauty and diversity as I can within a single square meter of prairie along Lincoln Creek in Aurora, Nebraska.  Today, I’m sharing some of my favorite images from July.  If you want to look backwards, you can click to on these links to look at selected photos from June, May, and January.

July was a little slower than I’d expected, to be honest (August, however, has been really hopping).  I was surprised how few pollinators showed up to feed on the butterfly milkweed plant in my little plot.  (I’m sure it didn’t have anything to do with the loony guy and his camera looming nearby.  There were lots of insects hanging around on butterfly milkweed plants elsewhere in the prairie…)  Regardless, there was still plenty going on in the plot last month.  Here are some highlights.

One of the few bugs I did see on the butterfly milkweed plant in my plot kept playing hide and seek with me.  This was the only photo I could get on this particular day.

A few days after the above photo, I saw the same kind of bug again, but this one was more tolerant of my lens in its face.

Morning dew drops.

I’m not sure what this beetle is, but I saw it a few times last month.

This tiny spider was hanging out one day.  It looks similar to the lynx spider I was seeing in June, but the eyes are wrong – and it seemed to be making a web.

Purple prairie clover (Dalea purpurea).

A leaf-footed bug (I think?)

I believe this intricately-patterned little beauty is a leaf hopper. Any guidance as to species would be appreciated…

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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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9 Responses to Square Meter of Prairie Project – July 2018

  1. Loren Padelford says:

    Chris,
    I think your spider might be a Lined Orbweaver (Mangora gibberosa). See: http://www.fnanaturesearch.org/index.php?option=com_naturesearch&task=view&id=637&cid=9
    Loren Padelford, Bellevue, NE

  2. Brad Copple says:

    I’ve been seeing that last one a lot this year in corn fields that I scout. According to Julie Peterson a UNL entomologist “it is a type of planthopper called a ‘derbid’. They do feed on plant juices similar to an aphid, but I’ve never heard of them actually causing damage.”

    • Chris Helzer says:

      Thanks Brad – that’s helpful. I think Robert got the species identified, but it was cool to look at derbids. It helped me identify another species I’ve found in August…!

  3. Robert Dana says:

    Looks like the planthopper Liburniella ornata.

  4. Julene Bair says:

    Beautiful pictures, Chris. I always love your posts.

  5. Teresa Lombard says:

    Beautiful!

  6. Chris, your posts thrill Jim Luyten and me. These small intimate beauties! I love learning about prairie from you.

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