29 April 2012

The Meandering Path

The Barton Creek Greenbelt is gorgeous right now, full of wildflowers like Indian blanket, Engelmann's daisy, white poppy, verbena, winecup and blackfoot daisy. Meandering paths, like the one pictured above, are idyllic right now.

Indian blanket, Gaillardia pulchella, is particularly dominant in this field.

Here's a cool critter that I found on an elm near the creek bank (actually in a tree right next to the one where we found the forest tent caterpillars a month or so ago).

This may look like a giant white caterpillar, which is what I thought it was. But it's actually the caterpillar-like larvae of the Elm sawfly, Cimbex americana. These beautiful larvae, which are about 2 inches long, were all over the elm. Sawfly's are primitive hymenopterans, related to the ants, wasps and bees. Sawflies are not like their more social cousins, which generally raise their young in brood cells, such as the cells in honey bee hives and wasp nests, or brood chambers in an ant hill.

Instead, sawfly larvae look and behave much like the caterpillars of lepidopterans (butterflies and moths). They can be major forest pests, and the larvae of many species live socially in large groups much like tent caterpillars. They can devour tree leaves very quickly in such large groups. Fascinating creatures.

Apparently, it is characteristic for them to coil into this shape when at rest. I love spirals. They are everywhere you look.

Here's another lovely critter that was swimming with me at the waterfall. Can you see it? This photo is like a puzzle, but if you look close, you'll see the well camouflaged southern leopard frog, Rana utricularia.

1 comment:

Ashana M said...

This is an absolutely beautiful blog. I'm glad I ran across it looking for "meandering paths."