Sunday, June 11, 2006

Don't Forget To Stop And Smell The Buttonbush

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Yesterday, at noon, the weather report said the actual temperature was 92 F, but it "feels like 108 F". (How do they know?)
It did feel like one of our hotter days so far, but there was a nice breeze that mitigated some of the oppressiveness. It had been a day of multitasking for me...some blogging in the morning, a mowflex workout, carving a bat to glue on to the bathouse, piddling, taking Emma for her ACT exam, picking tomatoes and peppers...anyway, it was time for a break.

So I walked down to my poor shrinking pond. The catfish and bream are now confined to the center of the pond, in an area not filled in by submerged plants. They were hungry and noisely devoured the food pellets I tossed to them.

It was hot. It was midday. Not a great time for critter pics, but the area around the pond was swarming with insect life...and none of it was the bitey kind. That was nice. The banks of the pond are covered with marsh pinks and some plant that looks like a delicate, kneehigh version of queen anns lace...gotta look that one up. Whatever that little plant is, it was alive with insects.

I wasn't really set up for macro, so I headed into the willow-buttonbush swamp at the south end of my linear pond. Maybe some bird was flitting around in the shade.

In the swamp, I crouched down and tried to call in a bird, but they were too smart to go out in the noon heat. Then I noticed this buttonbush blossom. It was hanging in a shaft of light and was constantly busy with insects. Bees, butterflies, moths, wasps, wasp-looking flies, they all came to this one blossom in the 15 minutes that I crouched there.

Buttonbush is a wetland shrub with beautiful, unusual blossoms that seem to only last for a day. If you get close, they have a nice scent, but it's not a strong scent that grabs you as you walk by. Insects love it and a buttonbush is usually good for a bug shot.

It was pretty fascinating, watching a parade of insects visit and share this blossom. It was pollination central. It was also something, I would have totally missed had the birds I was originally seeking been present. I would have been focused on stalking them and would have not noticed one of many buttonbush blossoms, teeming with life.

After a while, my toes were cramping from kneeling and it was time to go.

18 comments:

swamp4me said...

I noticed yesterday that the buttonbushes growing out on the pond have just begun to bloom. I saw a couple of open flowers as I paddled by. Buttonbush is one of my favorite shrubs. It is an attractive plant in any season.

We had four days of in-service training last week. I thought of you while I was out on the shooting range...I was trying to keep my rounds in a nice tight pattern so I, too, could dig the lead out of the berm - thanks for the inspiration :)

Anonymous said...

FC, looks like a tropical depression is heading your way over the next couple of days. That should give the pond some relief.

Here in Ok. the temp has been over a 100 every day since we got here. The wind is always blowing, so it's like being in a convection oven. Man, I miss Florida.

kevin said...

Your blogger didn't let me put my name on my last post. It was me.

Mrs. S said...

I like the butterfly picture the best, but I'm a girl so I suppose that's awefully cliche of me.

When I first got my new camera, I went and found a fluffy caterpillar on a wooden hydro pole and took about 15 pictures of him. I still love them - he is SO beautiful, close up.

There is something about a close-shots of insects that allow us to get over the fact that we are looking at bugs and focus instead on the inherent beauty their tiny little bodies carry with them.

Juli said...

Picked tomatoes... showoff. ;)

I picked veggies and fruits yesterday... at the Farmers' Market in St. Augustine.

Cool pics FC... stay cool. That's what we're trying to do up here in the northeast.

Hurricane Teen said...

Yeah I always find myself overlooking some of the smaller life in the wild...Maybe on those days when it seems all the animals are gone, they're really right under my nose...We get swarms of insect life when the citrus trees are in bloom. I might get out next spring and try to photograph some of them...And try not to get stung like I ALWAYS do out there.

Ava said...

Wow, looks like the buttonbush was getting lots of attention!!! I hope your poor shrinking pond doesn't shrink too much!!! Man, if you were able to kneel for fifteen minutes to take those pictures ... my hat's off to you! There's no way I could have done that!

Ava

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

Nice bug shots...and you even got a butterfly.

threecollie said...

Wish we could share our rain. We have ponds where there used to be fields....looking up articles on rice culture. Great photo and interesting post.

Deb said...

So did you finally get that digital camera?

robin andrea said...

That's a great collage of activity on the buttonbush. All the insects knew where the action was. Very cool that you caught it.

Floridacracker said...

Swampy,
I need to refresh a little myself, I've been so busy I've slacked on lead slingin'.

Kevin,
I knew it was you. Just got home from the Gulf (of Mexico) and it was blowing pretty good.

Mrs. S,
Your thoughtful last paragraph would make Thingfish23 and Wayne very happy. They are insectophiles.

Girl,
The tomatoes are pretty, but the plants are showing the effects of heat and humidity...kind of scraggly.

Hurricane,
I've been a menu item on the insect buffet for some time.

Ava,
As my toes were cramping, I was thinking why don't I build some very small, simple stools to stick in the good photo spots around the property? Then I could be comfortable and sneaky.

Abandoned,
Thanks.

Threecollie,
Thanks, we actually got some rain tonight and more should come roaring in with the tropical depression. I knew taking the top off the JEEP would work.

Deb,
I have made the official committment as part of Father's Day and will soon be able to get digi with it.

Robin,
They knew where to be and seemed to share the wealth without any serious altercations.

Debbie said...

Those of us in Florida thank you for taking the top off of your jeep. I hope that we get some of that rain in the panhandle.

Mrs. S said...

Oooh! What kind of digital camera did you/are you going to get? Is it possible to get info once you get more comfortable with it?

You know... for those of us who want to have Camera-Envy?

Wayne said...

Buttonbush is a cool shrub. I have to admit I planted ours - I haven't seen any natives around our immediate area.

As you say they seem to be a favorite of butterflies and other nectar suckers.

I want to see a picture of that carved bat, buddy! You know I'm quite a fan of bats.

thingfish23 said...

We have a little buttonbush plantation going in the garden. They're all in pots, with their feet constantly wet, and they're all from cuttings taken from the lone buttonbush at the very back-end of the lot (which stays under a half-foot of water for 1/3 of the year). I also cleared some of the competition away from the original plant and it bloomed a LOT more this year than last.

Once they're sturdier and better-established, I plan on putting a couple of the cuttings at the foot of my gutter(s) so they stay nice and wet. We'll see how they do. The constant blazing sun may prove too much for them if I don't "harden them off" carefully. Right now, the cuttings are thriving in a shady area.

Either way, as you said, they're a great plant. And they do smell nice, although they have a tendency to tickle the nose of the "sniffer".

pablo said...

FC - I'll be thinking of you during your coming engagement with Alberto.

Hick said...

I came across a flower that looked like a Queen Anne's lace at the nursery the other day and it was called a Bishop's Flower. I almost picked one up for the Hick house but I don't have much sun and my money was better spent on shade/part shade plants. Anyway...http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/wildseed/bishopsflower.html

108 degrees? YIPES. Today it is cool and cloudy here in the Hick Sticks (Sierras). Good weather for working out in the yard. I hope it rains there soon.