Monthly Archives: August 2010

Random Plant: Wood nettle

I’ve found that wood nettle (Laportea canadensis, Urticaceae) seems to be one of the dominant understory plants in at least one local floodplain forest.  Together with stinging nettle (Urtica dioica, Urticaceae) and giant ragweed (Ambrosia trifida, Asteraceae) these large plants … Continue reading

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Textbook Cross-Bedding

One stop on my final undergraduate geology trip this March included a day at Zion National Park, located in southwestern Utah.  As I mentioned with Death Valley, there is a lot of stuff to talk about here and more will … Continue reading

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Insect Love: Lady beetles

I’m going to go ahead and call these lady beetles (order Coleoptera, family Coccinellidae) and not ladybugs.  True bugs are in the insect order Hemiptera, so it seems inaccurate to refer to lady beetles as “bugs.” The pair above are … Continue reading

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Plant-Insect Interaction: Cabbage white butterfly on giant ironweed

While the larvae of cabbage white butterflies (Pieris rapae, Pieridae) feed on plants of the mustard family (Brassicaceae), the adults seem to feed any any source of nectar.  Here a cabbage white is feeding on the nectar from a giant … Continue reading

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Random Plant: Cup plant

I found this cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum, Asteraceae) noteworthy because of the interesting leaf arrangement.  The broad, opposite, coarsely toothed leaves come together at the stem in a cup shape (presumably what gives it its common name): The flower is … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Scarab beetle, possibly an earth-boring dung beetle

I found this beetle trying to burrow underneath a dung pile I wrote about recently.  It’s in the superfamily Scarabaeoidea, and based on morphology and behavior I suspect it’s in the family Geotrupidae (earth-boring dung beetles).  The apparently 11-segmented antennae … Continue reading

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Random Plant: New England aster

In a prairie full of bright yellow goldenrod (Solidago sp., Asteraceae) this purple New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae, Asteraceae) stuck out like a sore thumb.

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