Myrmecochory – Dicentra cucullaria (Dutchman’s breeches)

In continuing my work from last year, this year I was able to capture a few Aphaenogaster rudis moving the diaspores of Dicentra cucullaria (Dutchman’s breeches). Although this was the best year I’ve ever seen for D. cucullaria, getting everything to work just right in order to photograph this process was difficult. I was often short on the time needed to do this. Also, the cool temps we had this spring made it a bit difficult to find the foraging ants, even when the supply of diaspores I had at my disposal were ample.


Spring Flower Wrap-up

A bumblebee (Bombus sp.) barges its way into a Dutchman’s breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) flower for a nectar reward. Photographed at Beckemeier Conservation Area.

Just a few that I’ve processed that I wanted to share from this past spring.

A closeup of a fresh Prairie Trillium (Trillium recurvatum recurvatum) flower. Photographed at Beckemeier Conservation Area.

Did you know…? Trilliums are a favored spring food by white-tailed deer. An overabundance of deer, as is found across most of the eastern United States forests, can have detrimental impacts to trillium populations. In some regions these plants and many other plant species are extirpated from certain forests except within deer exclusion fences.

The enchanting Miami Mist (Phacelia purshii). Photographed at Englemann Woods Natural Area.

One of the first wildflowers that really caught my attention. Miami mist can often be found in large colonies. Unless you stop to take a close look, it may not be obvious what you are missing.

You have to be tiny to service the flowers of cutleaf toothwort (Dentaria laciniata), a task for which these diminutive sweat bees (Lasioglossum sp.) are perfect for. Photographed at Beckemeier Conservation Area.

Celandine poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum) photographed at Englemann Woods Natural Area.

I thought that celandine poppies were pretty common after visiting the large beds at Shaw Nature Reserve’s wildflower garden. I have now come to understand that they are generally pretty hard to find in Missouri forests. The name celandine comes from the Greek word for ‘swallow’, referring to the plant’s early blooming with the first arrival of the birds in spring.


Spring has Sprung. Winter MIA and Presumed Dead

I spent the majority of the day at Shaw Nature Reserve in Grey Summit, Missouri.  Mother Nature is busy transitioning to the next phase.  As the photo shows, I found harbinger of spring as well as spring beauty and a couple of very early blood roots in bloom.  It’s nice to get out looking for wildflowers this time of year because there are so few I can identify them all!  Over the next three months or so, Shaw NR will have an ever changing cycle of blooming spring-ephemerals, then the summer plants start!  The bird life I witnessed today also suggests that nature is moving on even though old man winter was playing dead beat dad this time around.  I had my first Pheobe and Field Sparrow of the year. I love listening to the Field Sparrows sing their bouncing ping-pong ball type of advertisement song across the open savannahs and woodlands.  It was also entertaining watching and listening to the Eastern Bluebirds who were busy building their nests in the boxes provided them across the reserve.  Yellow-rumped Warblers were seen in increasing number and the Woodpeckers could be seen and heard in every part of the preserve all day long.  The weather was fantastic today, although the sky was that boring, uninterrupted Robbin’s egg blue without a single cloud.  The morning was chilly though still, with no wind, which is so important for macro photography.  The best part of the day was finding the location of this year’s Red-shouldered Hawk nest.  This pair of Hawks or their descendants have nested in the same section of SNR for at least the past five years.  I’m glad I found the location this early.  It seems to be in a good location for making some good images.  It looked like there were already eggs in the nest and I can’t wait to get back and watch and take some photos.

Technical details: Canon EOS 7D camera, EF100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens, ISO 160,  f/11, 1/6 sec