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Old Apr 19, 2011, 5:15 AM   #1
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Default Spring bugs & blooms

Been very busy past week or so with a big park event, but still some time to notice and enjoy this amazingly rich spring season.

Our native Columbines are at peak bloom right now, brightening all the limestone crannies. Notice the long spurs full of nectar - these flowers are pollinated by butterflies (long tongues) and humminbirds (long beaks). Sometimes bumblebees will bite open the nectary and "steal" the nectar without pollinating the flower

It's tough to get a good shot, they shake in the slightest breeze - which of these views do you prefer?
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Old Apr 19, 2011, 5:18 AM   #2
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Pinxter is our earliest-blooming native Azalea. Rather rare in the home park, and definitely worth a little climb down the bluffs to get a good look!
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Old Apr 19, 2011, 5:22 AM   #3
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East Tennessee is home to several species of native Irises. Dwarf Crested Iris is the most common, and Vernal Iris only here and there. But both are beginning to bloom abundantly in this rich spring season...
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Old Apr 19, 2011, 5:25 AM   #4
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Spring Larkspur comes in several shades of blue, lilac and almost white. It's often called "staggers," because the toxins in the leaves can cause cattle to stagger. Notice the long spur for nectar, and the stamens and pistils down below the nectar tube - it takes a long tongue as well as long legs to pollinate these blooms...
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Old Apr 19, 2011, 5:27 AM   #5
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Wild Geraniums, Golden Ragwort and Perfoliate Bellwort are just a few more of the many blooming things this spring. (Ragwort is named for the tattered, rag-like leaves. Perfoliate Bellwort's stems look like they go through the leaf (perfoliate), and have bell-shaped flowers).
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Old Apr 19, 2011, 5:29 AM   #6
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But I promised some "bugs" too...

Tent Caterpillars have also been abundant this year. They "camp out" mostly in the wild cherry trees.
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Old Apr 19, 2011, 5:30 AM   #7
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We're seeing increasing numbers of butterflies emerging. Here's a Tiger Swallowtail enjoying the spring sun.
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Old Apr 19, 2011, 5:32 AM   #8
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And Dragonflies are out and active too!

Here is a Blue Corporal perched (very briefly) on an old sandy gravel road, and a Common Baskettail also briefly perching on a nearby twig.
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Old Apr 19, 2011, 5:35 AM   #9
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One of the ways to tell dragonflies from damselflies is that the dragons almost always perch with their wings straight out (like the first picture), while damselflies almost always fold their wings behind them. But, for some reason, this Ashy Clubtail (a dragonfly) folded its wings like a damselfly. It posed very patiently for several minutes too - perhaps it had recently emerged, and was still strengthening its wing muscles...
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Old Apr 19, 2011, 5:36 AM   #10
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Spring is almost over for the Falcate Orange Tips. They are an early spring butterfly. Soon after mating and egg laying they will die, but leave behind caterpillars for next year's generation.
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