Photo of the Week – November 2, 2018

Compass plant (Silphium laciniatum) leaf.

I can’t believe November is already here, but our prairies are certainly transitioning from fall colors to winter dormancy.  There are still a few hearty insects hanging  around, but it’s getting much harder to find them.  Wildflower seeds are also disappearing – being blown off seed heads or consumed by birds, mice, or other animals.  Here are four photos from the last week.  No particular theme, just images that struck my fancy during a few quick prairie walks.

A fuzzy “woolly bear” caterpillar.
Seeds of tall boneset (Eupatorium altissimum).
Milkweed bug nymph on common milkweed seeds.
This entry was posted in Prairie Insects, Prairie Photography, Prairie Plants 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 – November 2, 2018

  1. What are wooly bear caterpillars? I see them all over the West on highways and around our local river in the Sierra Nevada. Are they all the same species or just a common, similar looking form?

  2. The large milkweed bug – Oncopeltus fasciatus (last photo shows an immature one) is reputedly a migratory species, of which adults fly south in fall and re-colonize the colder parts of its breeding range each spring. I say reputedly because even as a quite interested insect watcher, I have never seen them in anything that looked like long-range, directed flight, but maybe they fly at night. I also am repeatedly surprised at how many immature ones remain to die in the cold each fall. It seems like a good opportunity for selection for cold tolerance, or (as in monarch butterflies) to enter reproductive diapause (gonads become inactive as the days shorten in fall, neither of which strategies has been realized in this bug species.

    • James, that’s fascinating – thanks for the info. I hadn’t heard that they might be migratory, and as you say, the number that stay behind doesn’t fit well with that strategy.

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