I braved the heat this afternoon and snapped a few pictures from my front steps, as summer officially begins. The wildlife seems uninhibited by the warm temperatures and lack of rain.
This is the same Wheel Bug, fifteen minutes later. You can see that it has begun to turn gray, and its skin and limbs have firmed up.
Arilus cristatus, the Wheel Bug. A close relative of the Assassin Bug, and the largest of the stink bugs, the Wheel Bug is a voracious predator on Japanese Beetles, Squash Beetles and Colorado Potato Beetles. This one had just molted out of the gray empty skin you can see to the right.
A pair of bumblebees making a mess of themselves pigging out in a sunflower blossom.
The Jerusalem Artichokes are now taller than me, and beginning to bloom. The butterflies and goldfinches have started gathering already.
I have a colony of Polistes wasps, Paper Wasps, living in a knothole under the eaves of my front porch — an outstanding location for them, as you can see: the hummingbird feeder full of nectar is right there on their doorstep.
A female American Goldfinch, Carduelis tristis, is dining on the seeds of one of the sunflowers blooming in front of my porch.
As you can see, summer is sunflower season. We have a random assortment of Helianthus varieties and species growing in front of the cabin. Some are just coming into bloom, and others have already set seed and have become live bird-feeders for the goldfinches.
Prunu serotina, the Black Cherry or Rum Cherry. I love these things, but the birds usually get to them before I do. This tree hangs over where I park my car, so you can imagine what that looks like in the morning.
Belamcanda chinensis, the Blackberry Lily. Actually a relative of the iris, these are just now coming into bloom, but I think the effect of sunlight through the foliage is as attractive as the flowers themselves.
These are a lot like blackberries, but with pink flowers and canes more like raspberries. I can’t be more specific than that, but I can confirm that they are very tasty.
Asclepias tuberosa, Butterfly Weed or Scarlet Milkweed. This plant has already bloomed and is creating seed pods, which will open at the end of the summer to release hundreds of seeds carried aloft on puffs of fine white silk.
Agastache foeniculum, or Anise Hyssop, named for the sweet licorice smell and taste of its leaves, which make a very nice tea. Small butterflies are also big fans of the plant.