FLORAL GEMS, SEA STAR CATCH & MONARCH MANIA
SEEN BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD….an old favorite! There is a patch of this pink/purple flower by the side of the road heading out toward Small Point. I had to stop for a closer look, and this is what I saw, up close and personal. It has a pea-like blossom and leaves in sets of three. I shall keep an eye on these flowers to confirm the formation of its seeds (while hoping that mowers don't come along and cut down these roadside beauties). This is a flower called Tick Trefoil, but in other seasons may be called "sticktight" because it forms flat triangular seeds that stick tight to our clothing as we brush by the plant. Some of us may never see the flower, but most remember picking off the seeds. I think it is a rare beauty. I hope to collect some seeds for establishing a patch in my garden. Look for them in your neck of the woods.

In my last report, I mentioned that a camper caught a Sea Star on a fish line. In case you need a photograph for proof, here it is. Normally, we search out these spiny creatures on the rocks at low tide. They can be found in large numbers in the harbor waters, but catching one on a fish line is a rarity in my book.

Monarch butterflies are now seen almost everywhere which is a good sign. There are patches of milkweed that appear to be thriving. I have been checking these plants to see if eggs had been laid and caterpillars are feeding. I even saw a female laying eggs! She bends her abdomen so as to position the eggs separately under a Milkweed leaf. There is wisdom in this placement of eggs. When the caterpillar hatches, it eats its shell. A nearby unhatched egg might get eaten in the process. So, the female takes caution by positioning these at a distance from each other. Unfortunately, I have also been finding some dead caterpillars and detected some Stink Bugs on these plants. I am not sure if these bugs are the predators, but time will tell.

I'll close with a picture of a male Monarch caught dining on the flowers in my garden. How do I know that it is a male? Look on the hind wings, and on the black stripings there is a dot which is a gland producing female enticing pheromones. The females lack that scent mark. (Of course if the butterfly is laying eggs, you know immediately it is a female!). I also saw two Monarchs attached to each other while flying. This is mating, monarch style!

7/28/06 High Flying Ronnie.