|A luna moth- quintessence of the southeast's rich broadleaf forests|
The Arkansans could do with a little less lushness this year. It rained every day I was in Arkansas, and since the summer began there has been no six-day stretch without precipitation. "So, what's the big deal?" you might ask. Well, no one has been able to cut hay. If they do cut hay, they run the risk of it mouldering in the field. This is something of an economic hit, and one wonders what it will mean for the cost to keep livestock over the winter. Beef is one of Arkansas' major industries.
|Viola pedata, birdsfoot violet|
|The view from 'Sunrise Point'|
More text and pictures of the Ozarks after the jump.
|Woodland sunflower and ironweed|
I picked Mount Magazine for camping because I was hunting for Speyera diana, the diana fritillary. Globally rare but locally abundant, the diana fritillary's range has collapsed relatively recently. Instead of one population stretching from the southern Appalachians in an unbroken band to the Ozarks, these two highland centers are now separated. I wanted to see this threatened butterfly while I still could. Admittedly, mid-August is slightly outside primetime for viewing this species. Males would have senesced weeks ago, but the females may still be hanging on in diapause or laying eggs.
|A closer look at that luna moth|
Luna moths are in the giant silk moth group. Some of this showy, large, and fuzzy number are threatened by a non-native parasitic wasp originally introduced to control gypsy moths. Unfortunately, gypsy moths are only active part of the season and the parasitic wasp has to eat all summer long. These wasps are far more effective at keeping down our populations of silk moths than they ever were at preventing gypsy moth population explosions. And thus, we have lost most of our gorgeous cecropias. This example is one commonly given when explaining why traditional bio-control (releasing non-native parasitic insects for pest control) should only be undertaken with great care, if at all.
More images from my trip:
|Sunset from my campground at Brown's Spring|
|Some shade growing tick clover|
|Tecoma stans, yellow trumpet flower with sweat bee|
|Hang glider's launch point, near the lodge at Mount Magazine.|