Jul 312014
 

On a cloudy, windy afternoon, I discovered another new flower blooming:  a single whirl of four yellow petals, forming a cross atop a low shrub with oval leaves.  The plant is almost certainly Saint Andrew’s Cross (Hypericum hypericoides), native to the Southeastern United States.

 

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Jul 302014
 

As sunset approaches, a horse grazes contentedly at the base of a pecan tree, while across Piney Woods Church Road, a mother cow gives her new calf an evening tongue bath.

 

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Jul 292014
 

Here is another charming bug I saw along Piney Woods Church Road today.  I am almost positive that it is a Leaf-Footed Bug nymph, quite possibly Acanthocephala terminalis.  Despite bearing a passing resemblance to a Wheel Bug sans wheel, Leaf-footed Bugs are harmless vegetarians that feed on the juices of plants rather than those of other insects.

 

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Jul 292014
 

Eleven days ago, I paid a late-day visit to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.  A stunning array of lilies and water lilies was in bloom, and dragonflies were everywhere.  There were some butterflies, too, to round out my adventures.  The first photograph is of a Pineapple Lily.  I did not get the opportunity to identify any of the other flowers.  The dragonflies are male Blue Dashers (Pachydiplax longipennis), while the butterfly is a Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus).  The last photo is of a female Blue Dasher perched on a tomato cage on my back porch.  I figured that she belongs with the males, although in this case, they are actually separated by a couple dozen miles.

 

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Jul 292014
 

I took these photographs on Piney Woods Church Road four mornings ago, after a dense fog had blanketed all the spiderwebs with dew.  The cattle pastures were covered with webs, and many more were strung along the barbed-wire fences along the roadside.

 

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Jul 292014
 

Late last night, a male Reddish-Brown Stag Beetle (Lucanus capreolus) visited me on our back porch, doubtless attracted to the light.  This stunning beetle, easily two inches in length, sports quite impressive pincers.  Nonetheless, the beetle is a vegetarian, feeding on tree sap.  The pincers are for challenging rival males.  Interestingly enough, the female of the species also sports a set of pincers, though smaller than the male’s.

 

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Jul 282014
 

Today’s whimsical photograph features a horse and rider ornament atop a mailbox along Piney Woods Church Road — the same black mailbox covered with lichens that was featured back on Day 102.

 

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Jul 272014
 

On my walk this afternoon, I wandered into a neighbor’s yard and began photographing butterflies on his blooming lantana, phlox, and butterfly bush.  I noticed a lovely long-legged fly (Condylostylus sp.), less than 1/4 inch in length, perched on the edge of a phlox leaf.  I am not able to identify if precisely, but I am comforted by the fact that two different insect identification books on my shelf both comment that the different species of Condylostylus (of which there are over 40) can only be distinguished by a specialist.  If I am correct as to its genus, at least (as the shape of its wings, red color of its eyes, and length of its legs indicate), then this fly is actually brilliant metallic blue or green in color, and only appears coppery in this photograph because of sunlight reflecting off its body.

 

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Jul 272014
 

It was a frightfully hot afternoon, and I had little anticipation of encountering anything wonderful or mysterious on my walk.  I felt the pressure of a frantic day, having spent hours before my walk preparing a talk for Monday, and facing the prospect of several hours afterward tutoring online.  Still, I was surprised to find a new bloom — or, rather, a new bloom for July.  The Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) partway down Piney Woods Church Road was flowering again.  It is the third set of blossoms on that particular wisteria for this year.  Like last time, though, there was only a single raceme of blossoms — the rest of the plant was merely leaves and seedpods.  Still, I am impressed with the determination of this invasive flower.  Like human beings, Chinese wisteria is a weed species.  Like us, it seems capable of being fertile and having sex (in its case, the floral variety) many times in one year.  It is a trait I might expect of a hybrid cultivar purchased from a greenhouse, but not from a vine growing in the wild along the roadside.

Still, the flower is so delicate, so pretty, with such cloyingly sweet perfume, that I am nearly seduced by its charms, and almost willing to forgive its flowering out of season….

 

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