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Old Jun 25, 2012, 8:54 PM   #1
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Default Some recent "Critters"

These hot summer days sure keep us busy, protecting park resources and assisting the MANY park visitors. But there are still opportunities to watch the abundant park wildlife. Here are some recent views of various "critters" from our East Tennessee hills.

Common Milkweed thrives in the heat and sun, and is full of nectar. Here are some Great Spangled Fritillaries and a Monarch enjoying milkweed nectar.
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Old Jun 25, 2012, 8:57 PM   #2
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You might notice another milkweed visitor in the first two shots. Milkweed Beetles (like Monarchs) are brightly colored to warn predators that they taste terrible - a bad taste that they absorb from their milkweed food. Any bird who eats one Milkweed Beetle is not likely to try another one!
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Old Jun 25, 2012, 8:59 PM   #3
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Dogbane is a close relative of Milkweed, and has its own unique bad-tasting "guests." These tiny Dogbane Beetles have just started emerging very recently.
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Old Jun 25, 2012, 9:03 PM   #4
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Have been trying to learn more of the park's moths lately. Here's one of the easier ones to identify - a Giant Leopard Moth. Notice how they ooze a yellow secretion when disturbed (another bad-tasting bug...)
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Old Jun 25, 2012, 9:05 PM   #5
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One more recent insect: The Meadowhawks are starting to emerge and patrol the damp meadows. Here are several views of a Ruby Meadowhawk.
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Old Jun 25, 2012, 9:07 PM   #6
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How about a few bigger "critters?" Our native snakes sure do enjoy the heat and sunshine. Here's a very young Black Snake (wonderful rodent catcher) who only bit me once when I was getting ready to take his portrait.
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Old Jun 25, 2012, 9:09 PM   #7
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And a full-size (but still very small) Green Snake that was out sunning near a blackberry thicket (probably waiting for some small animal to come eat a blackberry, and become a snake lunch instead!)
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Old Jun 25, 2012, 9:11 PM   #8
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Just when I get what I think I have a decent butterfly shot, Mole presents his beautiful shots. Back to the drawing board. Thanks for sharing.
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Old Jun 25, 2012, 9:11 PM   #9
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This Carolina Wren was also pretty close to the blackberry thicket. Was singing from many perches around the thicket (probably to claim the berries and bugs as its territory). This rather "thorny" perch was the favorite!
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Old Jun 25, 2012, 9:13 PM   #10
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The 17 year cicadas are all gone, but the amazingly abundant hatching seems to have helped the Moles produce an abundance of young. This young'un was out in the home park campground, and not at all shy...
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