Saturday, October 26, 2013

How Do You Enjoy Autumn?

If you're a Midland Painted Turtle you crawl onto a log, stretch your neck, tail, and hind legs and let the sun warm your body in the 45 degree air.

If your a Chipping Sparrow you pause for a few moments, while eating wild berries, and let the sun warm your feathers before flitting away from a hiker taking your photograph.

If you're me, you stop and marvel at the color of a Sugar Maple's glowing leaves in the afternoon sun and appreciate the sun's ability to make all creatures pause and enjoy the moment.
 Bowman Lake, Fox Island Co. Park
Allen Co., Indiana


Sunday, October 13, 2013

When You're Hot, Your Not------A Male.

With the daylight hours decreasing with each passing day this Painted Turtle crawled out of the water onto sandy soil and turned facing directly into the sun in order to warm it's cooled carapace.  Suddenly, out of nowhere, comes a member of the local paparazzi, sits on the ground next to him and starts with the photographs.  Jeeze!!

While Painted Turtles bask in the sun to warm their bodies it is also the sun's warmth that determines the sex of the un-hatched turtles during the second of the three embryo development periods which take place in the underground nest.  Painted turtle eggs warmed and incubated around 74 deg. will generally be males and eggs incubated around 80 deg. will generally become females.  Differences of the egg positions in the nest assures an even balance of males and females.

Photographs at Bowman Lake, Fox Island County Park.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Now you don't, Now you see it!

Fox Island Marsh, Oct. 6, 2012, during the summer drought.
Acres of Smartweed

Fox Island Marsh, Oct. 10, 2013
Acres of Duckweed

 Fox Island Marsh, Oct. 1, 2013
Why Wetlands are so important.


Friday, September 13, 2013

"Come fly with Me"

The Yellow-Legged Meadowhawk is a small dragonfly whose flight period is one of the last of summer. 
male, Yellow-Legged Meadowhawk

Male and Female Yellow-Legged Meadowhawks fly in tandem (called contact guarding) when laying eggs.  The male grasps the female by the head and leads her in the egg laying process.  This guarding prevents the female from being inseminated by another male.

The female of this pair has just dipped her tail into the water.  A water drop still clings to her Ovipositor and the water ripples where she has just touched the surface of the pond.

Deer Run Park, Allen Co. Parks


Thursday, September 12, 2013

It's Halloween!?


This male HALLOWEEN PENNANT has taken up the OBELISK stance in order to keep it's internal temperature down on this 95 degree day.  It's abdomen is pointing directly at the sun and it's forewings are held higher than the hind wings in this typical perching stance. The Halloween Pennant is the largest Indiana Pennant and gets it's name from the black and orange coloration of it'd wing pattern and body.  Female Halloween Pennants are yellow and it is not uncommon to see males and females in open areas far from water.
Bowman Lake
Fox Island Co. Park                        

On the other hand, this CALICO PENNANT has assumed a "Reverse" OBELISK stance to accomplish the same temperature reduction.  Note that the reed he is perched on also has the remains of the exoskeleton from the last molt, to adulthood, of another dragonfly nymph (left) and the remains of the exoskeleton of a damselfly nymph on the opposite side of the reed.
Bowman Lake
Fox Island Co. Park

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Northern Leopard Frog, Trail #8,      
Eagle Marsh, Little River Wetlands Project  9/04/2013

While the dwindling numbers of Northern Leopard Frogs ( Rana pipiens) have put them on the list of "Special Concern" in Indiana, at Eagle Marsh they are alive and thriving.  This may be due, in part, to the ample source of grasshoppers which this frog is using as it's afternoon snack.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Join the Chorus

This little Western Chorus Frog, Pseudacris triceriata, came out to greet the Little River Ramblers at Eagle Marsh this week.  While very vocal during the spring breeding season, March - May, the Chorus Frog is difficult to see by the casual hiker due to it's small size (3/4"-1 1/2") and it's coloration.  This little guy was barely 1" long.
41 deg. 01' 50.34"N     85 deg. 14' 01.28"W

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Heating and Cooling

Dragonflies are dependent on ambient temperature to warm or cool their bodies. On cool days dragonflies will align themselves perpendicular to the sun's rays in order absorb as much of the sun's energy as possible.This Slaty Skimmer perches with it's thorax and abdomen perpendicular to the sun in order to collect the maximum warmth needed for it's activities.

On hot sunny days dragonflies will point their abdomen directly at the sun in order to minimize the surface area of their bodies exposed to the sun.
This Blue Dasher is in the position called OBELISKING in order to expose the least amount of surface area to the sun and lowering it's body temperature.
Fox Island County Park, Allen Co., Indiana.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Emperor's New Clothes

This Chinese Praying Mantis poses against the needles of a Blue Spruce after becoming too big for it's "britches"' and molting.  The remains of the mantis' skin is to the right of the mantis.  The male Praying Mantis may molt as many as 7 times and the female will molt another 2 times, in most cases. Mantids have excellent eyesight utilizing their 5 eyes.  They are also the only insect that can rotate their heads 180 degrees in order to track their prey.  It's a common myth that mantids are federally protected and illegal to kill.  The truth is that no state or the U.S. Government has a law protecting the Praying Mantis and it's been shown that mantids are their own worst enemy. Most males are eaten by their mate immediately after mating accounting for the greatest threat to mantis longevity.
Photograph by Sue Peters, Allen Co., IN

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Stream Damsels

                                                      Male, American Rubyspot
A damselfly with long legs preferring stream and river banks.  The wing beats of the Rubyspot are relatively slow, similar to that of a butterfly.

Female, American Rubyspot.

                                                Male, Stream Bluet
These three damselflies were photographed near the beginning of the Little River in Allen County.  The Little River is a slow moving stream at this point with heavy siltation and Reed Canary Grass lining the banks. There are many small fish (Green Sunfish, Top Minnows)at this location. The water is primarily runoff from local quarries but of high in dissolved oxygen and low in pollutants.
41 01' 12.94" N         85 12' 27.63" W

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Damsels Not Distressed

Female, Eastern Forktail Damselfly

Damselflies, like dragonflies, are members of the order Odonata.  Unlike dragonflies, damselflies are weak fliers and fly near the ground and surface of the water.  The eyes of Damselflies are separated and Damselflies fold their wings back along their body.

Male, Eastern Forktail Damselfly

Immature. Eastern Forktail Damselfly
This damselfly is newly molted from the nymph stage.  It's colors are not yet developed and flying abilities not well established. Odonata are very vulnerable to predation at this stage in their development.

Male, Fragile Forktail Damselfly
Perches low, horizontally on vegetation of small well vegetated ponds.

Nature Center Pond, Fox Island Co. Park
Allen Co., Indiana.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Eastern Pondhawk (male)  Erythemis simplisicollis
The only North American Pondhawk to inhabit Indiana.  The habitat of this dragonfly is ponds, lakes and streams which is the subject of this blog.
The black spots on the leading edges of the forewing and hind wing, near the tip, are called the Stigma.  They are thickened parts of the wings that minimize vibration of the wing when the dragonflies are gliding.  This along with the ability of the dragon fly to rotate the angle of the forewing, creating more lift on the hindwing, allows the dragonfly to glide on wings too small for that occur, in theory.  Dragonflies have had 250 million years to perfect their flying abilities tracing their ancestry back to the Carboniferous Era when their wingspan was 28".

Blue Dasher, male.