Last week was freezing here in mid-Michigan. The Polar Vortex gave us unbelievably frigid temperatures. Along with biting cold, the bone-chilling wind chills made me want to stay indoors. Then, we had a brief warm up to almost fifty degrees. And, now…well…we have ice everywhere. I am afraid to ask what Mother Nature has in store for us next.
I took extra care on keeping my feeders full. I had numerous winged visitors and a few furry ones.
Even though, I generally do not mind winter. I mean, the changing seasons is why I enjoy Michigan. But, I must admit, I am looking forward to Spring.
Mid-Michigan has been experiencing rain for the last few days. Being indoors means working on my writing. The weather reminds me of Snoopy writing while sitting on top of his dog house. “It was a dark and stormy night”.
The Praying Mantis fascinates me (yes, I know all creatures fascinate me). But there’s just something about the oddly shaped head, I cannot help but love.
I took this photo a couple of years ago. Resting on the grapevine in the mid-day sun, the Praying Mantis was actually licking his leg. I had never seen this type of behavior prior to this occasion. I must have taken over 1000 photos of him (or her) that day.
During my research, I have discovered there are thousands of species of the Praying Mantis or the scientific name Mantodea. Due to the varying types, the Mantis can be found on every continent but one, Antartica.
The placement of the eyes allows the Mantis to spot movement from almost sixty feet away. Finding an abundance in my yard, the green Praying Mantis feasts on a variety of insects including mosquitoes, crickets, and flies.
Growing up to five feet tall, Burdocks are another oddly beautiful plant. Most people pull the “weed” from their yards. I leave the plant just to watch the slow blooms occur. I love the purple flowers with the little spiny white ends.
Of course, the bees find the Burdocks very tasty. Honey bees and other insects love the pollen from the Burdock. I find any plant that attracts Honey Bees a valuable asset to my yard.
The next time you see a Burdock, do no think of the plant as a weed, instead consider how much the bees love and need the vegetation to survive. From my research, I read the Burdock is actually a medical herb. I might have to be brave and try the Burdock Root Tea.
White with black markings, the Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar stands out against the green foliage. Slowly moving along the underside of the leaf, the caterpillar seemed to avoid detection from passing predators.
Researching the spiked tuft caterpillar was interesting. Many people have allergic reactions due to the hair like spikes. My grandfather used to say “if you are dumb enough to pick it up then it’s your own fault.” I still take this advice to heart when I am out in the woods. I am really cautious as I photograph insects and wildlife in general.
I often hear, “it’s just a weed” or “it’s just a bug”. Despite their humble beginnings, I find everything in the natural world beautiful. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there a few critters that make me squeamish. Wild rats, did I mention rats? I know the irrational fear comes from reading too many history books about the plague.
My new nature series, Bridgeville Beauties highlights my finds in my area. The weeds, bugs, and critters of Michigan will be my area of focus.
Starting with the first one, the Buttonbush or Bush Willow is one of my favorite plants to photograph. Growing up to 12 feet, I generally find the white flowering bush near the creek line. The white flowers with spike-like yellow heads are oddly beautiful.
Attracting bees and hummingbirds, I find the Buttonbush to be a very beneficial “weed”.