#493 Grayish Fan-Foot (Zanclognatha pedipilalis)

11 July

A litter moth of the family Erebidae. The species was first described by Achille Guenée in 1854. It is found in eastern North America, from Nova Scotia south to Florida and Mississippi, west to Alberta and Kansas.

The wingspan is 24–30 millimetres (0.94–1.18 in). Adults are on wing from May to August. There is one generation in the north, with a partial second brood in Connecticut. There are two broods in Missouri and multiple generations in Florida. The larvae feed on dead leaves in deciduous woods.

#492 Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum)

10 July

A bird in the family Mimidae, which also includes the New World catbirds and mockingbirds. The brown thrasher is abundant throughout the eastern and central United States and southern and central Canada, and it is the only thrasher to live primarily east of the Rockies and central Texas. It is the state bird of Georgia.

As a member of the genus Toxostoma, the bird is relatively large-sized among the other thrashers. It has brown upper parts with a white under part with dark streaks. Because of this, it is often confused with the smaller wood thrush (Hylocichla mustelina), among other species. The brown thrasher is noted for having over 1000 song types, and the largest song repertoire of birds. However, each note is usually repeated in two or three phrases.

The brown thrasher is an omnivore, with its diet ranging from insects to fruits and nuts. The usual nesting areas are shrubs, small trees, or at times on ground level. Brown thrashers are generally inconspicuous but territorial birds, especially when defending their nests, and will attack species as large as humans.

(*Image from Wikipedia)

#491 Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus)

9 July

Not to be confused with the more common Cedar Waxwing – distinctively the lower belly is a rich chestnut colour and there are cinnamon-coloured areas around the mask.. The breeding habitat is coniferous forests, usually near water. The pair build a lined cup-shaped nest in a tree or bush, often close to the trunk. Many birds desert their nesting range in winter and migrate farther south. In some years, large numbers of Bohemian waxwings irrupt well beyond their normal winter range in search of the fruit that makes up most of their diet.

In some years, this waxwing irrupts south of its normal wintering areas, sometimes in huge numbers. The fruit on which the birds depend in winter varies in abundance from year to year, and in poor years, particularly those following a good crop the previous year, the flocks move farther south until they reach adequate supplies. They will stay until the food runs out and move on again.

(* Picture from Wikipedia)

#490 Prince Baskettail (Epitheca princeps)

8 July

Epitheca princeps, commonly known as prince baskettails, are found in more than 27 states in the United States, spanning mostly the midwestern and eastern United States. These insects have been reported in Ontario and Quebec, Canada.

Prince baskettails, like most Corduliidae, live in and around freshwater swamps and ponds. This species lives in the surrounding vegetation of permanent ponds, lakes or streams, all of which have a slow current. The eggs and larvae live in the water, usually occupying depths of 0.5 m. The water conditions can range from clear to muddy, and a suitable oxygen concentration is necessary for the eggs laid underwater.

most often can be observed flying over trees during the day and feeding in swarms during the evening. This species can form swarms of 10 to 30 individuals and may fly with Epitheca cynosura simulans. Epitheca princeps perches to feed on larger food items; it also perches at night. It perches by hanging under twigs, often with its wings elevated. It typically is still perched at dawn, as the sun must heat its muscles before it can begin flying. Species in the genus Epitheca, prince baskettails included, are known for their strong, persistent flights.

Epitheca princeps females are solitary until they reach sexual maturity, generally occupying a range that extends farther from the water source. Males can be territorial; they guard oviposition sites from other male E. princeps and other dragonflies. However, E. princeps often is not the most dominant odonate in the habitat; thus, many Epitheca princeps males cannot patrol close to the shore.

Larvae often enter diapause during the winter. They migrate to deeper waters when temperatures are low, which enables them to avoid predation and the dangers associated with cold temperatures close to the shore.

#489 Striped Cucumber Beetle (Acalymma vittatum)

7 July

A beetle of the family Chrysomelidae and a serious pest of cucurbit crops in both larval and adult stages. Large numbers of adults emerge from diapause in the spring to feed on the foliage, flowers, and pollen of cucurbit species. Between one and two generations of beetles can pass in a season depending on the region, with the final generation settling into another period of diapause to wait out the winter.

Females will lay eggs on or in the immediate vicinity of the stem of a viable host plant, often a member of the genus Cucurbita. Eggs are a bright orange color and less than a millimeter in diameter. Eggs hatch after a short period and larvae feed on the roots of the plant.

#488 Evening-Primrose (Oenothera sp.)

6 July

Flowering plant in the family Onagraceae, native to eastern and central North America, from Newfoundland west to Alberta, southeast to Florida, and southwest to Texas, and widely naturalized elsewhere in temperate and subtropical regions.

#487 Field Peppergrass (Lepidium campestre)

5 July

Apologies for the photograph which shows the plant in a rather late stage of its life cycle. Grows in disturbed land, crops, and waste places. It can tolerate most soils. The plant is edible. The young leaves can be eaten as greens, added raw to salads or boiled for ten minutes. The young fruits and seeds can be used as a spice, with a taste between black pepper and mustard. The leaves contain protein, vitamin A and vitamin C

#486 Large-leaved Avens (Geum macrophyllum)

4 July

Geum macrophyllum, commonly known as largeleaf avens or large-leaved avens is a flowering plant found from the Arctic south to the northern U.S. states, and in the Rocky Mountains and west to the Sierra Nevada in California and as far south as Northwestern Mexico.

It is even more distinctive in fruit than in flower, with spiky spheres of reddish styles. The fruits are a ball of tiny velcro like hooks that catch on clothing and animal hair.

#485 Condylostylus patibulatus

3 July

Apart from it’s metallic gold colour this is a very (very!) tiny “long-legged fly” that has flown so far under the radar that it doesn’t even have a common name.

There are 7000 species in the family Dolichopodidae. They are generally small flies with large, prominent eyes and a metallic cast to their appearance, though there is considerable variation among the species. Most have long legs, though some do not. In many species the males have unusually large genitalia which are taxonomically useful in identifying species. Most adults are predatory on other small animals, though some may scavenge or act as kleptoparasites of spiders or other predators.

#484 European/Essex Skipper (Thymelicus lineola)

2 July

Needless to say this is an introduced species, though there are plenty of native Skippers around too. Accidentally introduced in 1910 via London, Ontario and has spread across southern Canada and into several northern US states. In many parts of the Northeastern United States it is the most abundant skipper.

Eggs are laid in strings on the stems of grasses where they remain over the winter.