Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fall Colors

Be sure to schedule a long walk this weekend and enjoy the cooler weather and the fall colors just beginning to show. Look for the Virginia Creeper, Parthenocissus quinquafolia leaves spiraling up tree trunks, forming columns of red as if to predict of what is yet to come.

This Eastern Comma butterfly already has "Autumn" written all over it.

Late season or "winter form" Commas will spend the Ohio winter in hibernation and will be one of the earliest butterflies seen in 2011. The fall brood of Commas are lighter in coloration on the hind wing, and the spots look nearly golden. Edges often appear to be trimmed in lavender on the fall form. Size is a good key to this species. Remember, Commas are smaller than the similar Question Marks, if the diagnostic comma shaped mark on the under wing cannot be seen.

A ditch full of Meadow Fritillaries hides an impostor amongst them. The Meadow Frits are evenly golden around the edges, while the Pearl Crescent (centered top of the photo) is slightly smaller and edged in black. Pearl Crescents are one of Ohio's most common butterfly- essentially the gold standard- or "Killdeer" of shorebirds. Get this species down and it is useful for comparing size and color with several other similar species.

New England Aster, one of the showiest of our fall blooming asters.

Fall is also a time for asters, the host plant for the Pearl Crescent. Woodlands and fields are starting boast of the many species of Asters: white, lavender, blues and the stunning purple flowers of the New England Aster, Symphyotrichum novae-angliae. Look closely at its leaves which wrap around, or clasp the stem of this wetland loving plant.


These beautiful fall days won't last for long, so breath deeply the cool night air and savor every color nature has to offer. It can't get much better than this.

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