“It Sounds Seussian”

My friend P wrote that when I posted a picture of purple-headed sneezeweed (Helenium flexuosum) on social media. I included a few pictures in my August 7 post here, but want to share a few more. It’s such a photogenic flower!  That’s a pearl crescent (Phyciodes tharos) sitting on the flower head.

Here are a few more pictures from my August ramblings on the banks of the Potomac.



fogfruit, aka frogfruit (Phyla lanceolata; Verbenaceae)





blue vervain (Verbena hastata; Verbenaceae)








riverbank goldenrod (Solidago racemosa; Asteraceae)




tall meadow rue (staminate flowers; Thalictrum pubescens; Ranunculaceae)



Pearl Crescent


pearl cresecent
Phyciodes tharos

The pearl crescent is a common small butterfly in the brush-foot family. They produce several broods each year; the adults can be seen flying in Maryland from early May to November. They range from the Rocky Mountains east in the US, southern Canada, and northern Mexico.

Caterpillar host plants include a large number of aster (Symphyotrichum) species. Adults feed on plants in the dogbane, aster, and mustard families (Apocynaceae, Asteraceae, and Brassicaceae).

Like many butterflies, especially brush-foots, they’re often found near puddles. The one pictured here was one of about a dozen flitting about the mud on the banks of the Potomac River one morning in mid-October. The deep depressions to the left and bottom of the picture are dogs’ pawprints.

For more information have a look at
Maryland Butterflies
Butterflies and Moths of North America
Mass Audobon

On the Asclepias Buffet

20150623-20150623-_DSC0134The milkweeds sure do attract visitors.  Pleased to discover a very small stand of swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) in an easily accessible area, I decided to stay awhile to see who came by. Here are some of the insects I saw on it.


This is a pearl crescent butterfly, Phyciodes tharos, a member of the brushfoot family (Nymphalidae).  20150623-20150623-_DSC0105

See the blurry orange thing in the foreground?


That’s an assassin bug (species unknown, family Reduviidae). They sometimes hide in flowers, but more often actively hunt their prey*.  They use their rostrums to inject prey with salvia, which then liquefies the victim’s insides so that the bug can suck them out.

I have a sudden, strange urge to watch Starship Troopers again.

In less gruesome news, the milkweeds were also attracting the bees.


I have no way to identify the species of this bumblebee (family Bombidae).

[edited to add: see comments]

*Encyclopedia of Life