Botanical Mile Markers

Joe Pye Party

If those are Joe Pye Weeds in full bloom, this must be August. Or Jewel Weed flowering, ironweed in early bloom, and the striped maple leaves–a few at least–beginning to show those colorful age spots that point just ahead at autumn.

I would have delighted to have been able to walk into this Blue Ridge Parkway meadow I have enjoyed this season in years past. But the “sequester” cut the feet out from under the normal park maintenance, so this meadow is over my head in wingstem. I peeked from the edge to get this shot of the “Joe Pye Party”, with 18 swallowtails just in this tight shot alone. [Click to enlarge]

I’m getting a backlog of images–several need more natural history stories to go with them.  Some are just for fun–like this one.

I did note that so many swallowtails–and especially the darker female Tigers–are mighty beat up by this time of year. The yellow males seem to hold up a bit better. So close-ups of butterflies becomes less appealing in August than it was in July.

Soon, the goldenrod arthropods (blister beetles, wasps etc) will appear, and, even though I have shots of most from years past, I’ll have to do it again with the new Lumix as my love-hate relationship unfolds.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Fred, I fell in love with Joe Pye Weeds when we first started coming to Floyd. I’d love to get some to grow in our fields these days. They used to, but not seeing them as much! Thanks for this photo and article.

  2. We were definitely seeing the poultry version of that female abuse at the (er…) hands of a randy rooster. He has been removed from the roost, and the remaining he-chicken seems to not yet be tempted to hump the feathers off the backs of his hen-harem, and can remain a part of the flock for a while yet under these circumstances. But probably not for long, sadly. I liked the roosters (who had been with us for months when we expected eggs from them). They are very comfortable around us, while the new ladies remain wary.