Pasque morning

This is the time of year for the magnificent Pasqueflowers to bloom and brighten the hillsides, forests and meadows near town.

These flowers are part of the genus Pulsitilla family which contains numerous species spread across the globe and are the state flower of South Dakota. We noticed two distinct species while on a recent walk with both growing along the sunny hillsides and one growing just about everywhere in both sun and shade.

Hope we can get back out before they are done blooming and wishing you all a Pasque morning.

Mormon Cricket: Anabrus simplex

The Mormon cricket is actually not a true cricket, but rather a shield-backed katydid. The common name derives from an invasion of the crops of Mormon settlers in the Salt Lake area in the mid-1800s.

We ran across plenty of these katydids on a recent hike although not in the numbers depicted in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yy3dQJYquoY. While these insects can be quite destructive to crops they do eat the grasses and plants in natural rangelands much as large grazing mammals do (or did). I also find them quite interning to look at as each has subtle color variations.

Given these were not marching across our hiking trail in plague proportions I enjoyed seeing them on a late fall afternoon moving through the already dry grasses.

Lichen,Rock and Spruce.

lichen_comma

We were up high in the mountains a week or two ago and much to our surprise there were numerous butterflies going about their business even as the nights have been cold and the flowers have long died out for this season. Must be slim pickings this time of year for this wonderful comma butterfly foraging on Lichen, Rocks and Spruce.

rock_comma
spruce_c0mma

A job well done

The other day I saw a yellow flash land in a nice cedar tree. Thinking it was an unusual insect I quickly went over to get a look. Alas, it was not a new insect but a Honey Bee and to say this one was covered in pollen might be an understatement. This little bee could hard fly with the load they had acquired. After a few minutes of rest they slowly lifted off and headed back to the hive. A job well done.

Mantid Sunday

We typically see only a few Preying Mantis each summer either while out hiking or in our garden. Last week, while out on a hike, we saw numerous Mantids and each one matched the specific grasses they resided in. The Mantid above was in grasses that were a mix of green and brown and the Mantid was green and brown.

While the Mantid above resided in fresh green grass.

This Mantids above were right at home in a field of brown.

We even got a look at one Mantid hanging upside down.

Photographed in Denver, CO

Western Moss-heather: Cassiope mertensiana

Western Moss-heather is a beautiful plant that grows high up in the alpine environment in northwestern United States, Alaska and Canada. We happened across a nice patch flowering a few weeks ago.

Beautiful little bells hanging from redish stems with the plants growing about 4-5 inches tall at most.

Some patches almost seems to be growing directly out of the rocks along this wind whipped slope.

A flower we don’t encounter every summer on our hikes but one we will always remember.