#271 Swainson’s Thrush (Catharus ustulatus)

30 November

These birds migrate to southern Mexico and as far south as Argentina. The coastal subspecies migrate down the Pacific coast of North America and winter from Mexico to Costa Rica, whereas the continental birds migrate eastwards within North America (a substantial detour) and then travel southwards via Florida to winter from Panama to Bolivia. This species may be displaced by the hermit thrush where their ranges overlap. Possibly, the latter species adapts more readily to human encroachment upon its habitat. At least in the winter quarters, Swainson’s thrush tends to keep away from areas of human construction and other activity.

#270 Wood Horsetail (Equisetum sylvaticum)

29 November

These horsetails are commonly found in wet or swampy forest, open woodlands, and meadow areas. The species name sylvaticum is Latin for “of the forests”, emphasizing that the wood horsetail is most commonly found in forested habitats. The plant is an indicator of boreal and cool-temperate climates, and very moist to wet, nitrogen-poor soils.

This plant reproduces by spores, but its primary means of reproduction is done vegetatively by rhizomes. These rhizome systems are deep and extensive, as well as extremely long-lived. These creeping rhizomes occasionally produce tubers, and often outweigh the above-ground growth by 100 to 1.

##269 White Vervain (Verbena urticifolia)

28 November

White vervain has opposite, simple leaves on thin, rigid, green stems. The leaves look similar to those of Urtica, which is the reason for the plant being named urticifolia. The small flowers are borne in spikes; they open in summer and unusually for this normally bluish-flowered genus are white. The fruit is a dark- colored capsule with many brown and thin seeds. The entire plant except for the flowers and fruit is covered in stiff bristles.

#268 Bur Marigolds – Genus: Bidens

27 November

A genus of flowering plants in the aster family, Asteraceae. The common names beggarticks, black jack, burr marigolds, cobbler’s pegs, Spanish needles, stickseeds, tickseeds and tickseed sunflowers refer to the fruits of the plants, most of which are bristly and barbed, with two sharp pappi at the end. The generic name refers to the same character; Bidens comes from the Latin bis (“two”) and dens (“tooth”).

The plants are zoochorous; their seeds will stick to clothing, fur or feathers, and be carried to new habitat. This has enabled them to colonize a wide range, including many oceanic islands.

#267 Common Lamb’s-Quarters (Chenopodium album)

26 November

Chenopodium album is a fast-growing weedy annual plant in the genus Chenopodium. Though cultivated in some regions, the plant is elsewhere considered a weed. Common names include lamb’s quarters, melde, goosefoot, manure weed, wild spinach and fat-hen, though the latter two are also applied to other species of the genus Chenopodium, for which reason it is often distinguished as white goosefoot.

Do you have horses?

C. album is able to generate high levels of oxalates. If horses consume large quantities of oxalates it can cause a significant reduction in calcium update it triggers the parathyroid hormone to demineralize bone calcium stores, leading to weakened bones, increased risk of bone fractures, intermittent lameness, and stunted growth. Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album ) is a rapid growing summer annual weed. It emerges throughout the summer, with peak emergence in mid- to late spring. Mature C. album plants have broadly triangle-shaped leaves with irregular, shallow-toothed margins and a white mealy coating. It’s stems are smooth or hairless, grooved, and green or reddish in color. It has tiny green to gray-green flower clusters at the tips of stems and branches which eventually turn into its seeds. C. album seeds are able to remain dormant for extended periods of time. C. album is extremely hardy and thrives on many types of soil and at many pH levels. It is one of the last weeds to be killed by frost, and its presence is one of the best indicators of good soil.

See more at: http://www.horsedvm.com/poisonous/lambsquarter/

#266 Hackberry Emperor (Asterocampa celtis)

25 November

A North American butterfly that belongs to the brushfooted butterfly family, Nymphalidae. It gets its name from the hackberry tree (Celtis occidentalis and others in the genus Celtis) upon which it lays its eggs. The hackberry tree is the only host plant for A. celtis and is the food source for larvae.

The hackberry emperor is known for being a quick, mercurial butterfly. It often is found along water sources and lowlands, although it lives in a broad range of habitats. Another notable characteristic is that it rarely is spotted visiting a flower, which is considered unusual for a butterfly.

Species in the genus Asterocampa are regarded as being “cheater” organisms, since these butterflies do not pollinate flowers when they feed from them. This species can more accurately be described as parasitizing their hosts and plant food sources since they extract nutrients without providing any benefits to the host.

As a member of the family Nymphalidae, the hackberry emperor oviposits its eggs in clutches, or clusters, upon hackberry leaves. There are a few plausible evolutionary reasons for this behavior, but the exact cause for this species’ behavior is contentious. Possible explanations include higher fecundity that may be aided by aposematic coloration.

#265 Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)

24 November

Found in all parts of the United States except the west coast, and throughout Mexico and parts of southern Canada, in particular Ontario. Its habitat is open areas such as pastures, road edges, vacant lots, fields, open pine woods. Its pattern is quite variable. Males usually have black antenna knobs. Its upperside is orange with black borders; postmedian and submarginal areas are crossed by fine black marks. The underside of the hindwing has a dark marginal patch containing a light-colored crescent.

The wingspan is from 21 to 34 mm. The species has several broods throughout the year, from April–November in the north, and throughout the year in the deep south and Mexico.

#264 Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)

23 November

A butterfly of the family Hesperiidae. It is claimed to be the most recognized skipper in North America. E. clarus occurs in fields, gardens, and at forest edges and ranges from southern Canada throughout most of the United States to northern Mexico, but is absent in the Great Basin and western Texas.

E. clarus larvae create and reside in unique shelters stuck together with silk, which do not protect them from predators. Natural predators of the species include paper wasp foragers, sphecid wasp and Crematogaster opuntiae ants. The species is also considered to be a perching species, meaning that adult males compete for territory to attract females. Although E. clarus is considered to be a pest of a few crop plants such as beans, its pest activity is not serious enough to warrant initiating major control measures.

#263 American Dagger Moth caterpillar (Acronicta americana)

22 November

The young caterpillar is densely covered with yellow setae. The older caterpillar’s setae are either pale yellow or white. All instars have thin, black setae on the first and third abdominal segments. On the eighth abdominal segment, there is one tuft of black setae. The caterpillar will reach a length 50 mm (2.0 in). While there are numerous reports of the larval hairs of this species sometimes causing skin irritation in humans, there is no evidence that they possess any form of venom.

The American dagger moth can be seen from April to September throughout its range. Caterpillars can be seen from July to October.

#262 Pale Smartweed (Persicaria lapathifolia)

21 November

A plant of the family Polygonaceae. It is closely related to Persicaria maculosa and as such is considered a weed in Britain and Europe. Other common names for the plant include pale smartweed, curlytop knotweed, and willow weed. It is a species complex made up of a great many varying forms, sometimes considered varieties. The environment also has a strong influence on the morphology of an individual plant.

An annual herb with erect reddish stems with swollen joints, growing to a height of 20 to 80 cm (8 to 31 in). The leaves are alternate with short stalks, often densely hairy underneath. The leaf blades often have a dark-coloured blotch in the centre and are lanceolate or narrowly elliptical and have entire margins. Each leaf base has stipules which are fused into a stem-enclosing sheath that is loose and fringed with few if any hairs at the upper end. The inflorescence is a dense spike, often nodding. The perianth of each tiny pink flower consists of four or five lobes, fused near the base. There are six stamens, two partially fused carpels and two styles. The fruit is a rounded, flattened nut. This plant flowers from July to September in northern temperate regions.