Lately, I’ve had some great opportunities to photograph big charismatic animals like bison and cute mammals like prairie dogs. During the same period, however, I’ve also managed to make the kind of photographs I’m most drawn to – images of little things like flowers and bugs. Since much of what I’ve posted lately (the dung beetles post notwithstanding) has been bigger wildlife, I decided to share a selection of more close-up views of prairies today.
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) from beneath. The Nature Conservancy’s Platte River Prairies, Nebraska.
Prairie cicada at The Nature Conservancy’s Niobrara Valley Preserve, Nebraska.
Prairie wild rose (Rosa arkansana) at the Niobrara Valley Preserve.
Katydid nymph on upright prairie coneflower. Platte River Prairies.
Side-oats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula). Platte River Prairies, Nebraska.
Broad sweeping vistas and big stompy animals add drama to prairie landscapes, but most of the complexity and function actually happens at a very small scale. Sometimes it’s nice to just pause and enjoy the little things.
We came across these galls on a wild rose plant last week, and Eliza insisted I do a blog post about them. So here you go.
Insect galls on prairie wild rose – TNC’s Platte River Prairies, Nebraska.
Galls like this are formed when an insect lays an egg on or in a plant and the feeding of the recently hatched larva stimulates excess growth of plant tissue. The result is that the plant creates a little structure that contains both food and protection for the young larva. The most familiar example of this in prairies is the goldenrod gall, which can be seen in just about any prairie containing goldenrod plants. In this case, a wasp laid eggs on this wild rose (Rosa arkansana) plant and inside each of the resulting galls is a tiny white larva.
More galls on the same plant.
For much more information on galls and the insects that create them on wild rose, click here.