September 25 — Fall arrives

I’ve been going out weekly with my Entomology class.  They are showing a tremendous amount of ent-thusiasm in making their insect collections.  There isn’t much in bloom, as a result of the drought, but if anything flowers, the insects are all over it.  Here, a bunch of Eastern Tailed Blues are clustered on an unidentified plant.

Love was in the air, as these clouded sulphurs were enjoying each others’ company.
From August 2012
Along with these mantids.
From September 2012
Oh, and these Eastern Amberwings.
From August 2012
Stacey and I wanted to do another shakedown cruise in the RV, and thought there could be no better nor more convenient place to camp than the riverfront right here in Canton.  We spent an entire weekend in our city-owned campground, immediately adjacent to the Mississippi River.  I’m sure it’s quite a novelty for out-of-towners to see the Ferry treading back and forth across the river, and the occasional barge tow locking through.  But these are not much of a thrill for those of us who see it almost daily.  We are left with the quaint environment of the campground, where sites are narrow–you are right next to your neighbors.  Because of the street between the camp sites and the river, local traffic passes through all day, and many are our friends.  All stare at us.  Finally, the damn trains.  The tracks are on the west side of the campground.  I swear they would hit the horn right when they reached our site.  That’s not a wake-up call you enjoy at 1 a.m.  
Nonetheless, our stay was a success in many ways.  We learned more things about our camper and were able to test out some things I had fixed or purchased since our last outing (Yay, new sewer pipes!).  The dogs were about as well behaved as we could expect.  At least no one complained.  Gretchen jumped off the top bunk, surviving without injury.  We’re sure this will just encourage her to try it again.  We had s’mores in the evening, with a friend joining us for a few hours.  
From September 2012
Our camp, with optional train.
I took the kayak around and fished the areas below the dam, but never got a bite.  Lots of birds were around, many migrating through, including American White Pelicans, Double-crested Cormorants, and Osprey.  It was the peak day for the monarch migration, but I only saw a few crossing the river from east to west.  We struck camp and got out by noon on Sunday, but came back later.

From September 2012
The American Queen locked through that afternoon.  We haven’t had a paddlewheeler pass by in about four years.
There has been a slight fall bloom in butterflies.  One day when I came home there was a Mourning Cloak in the yard.  I let the dogs outside without much of a greeting, grabbed my camera and ran after the butterfly.  I took many photos, but perhaps not the definitive one.
From September 2012
It’s not the most spectacular species, but relatively rare.
Another day I let out the dogs and found hundreds of ant alates flying in the back yard.  After I had run the dogs a bit, I got the camera out.  It was dark enough already that I figured the only thing for it was full flash macro.  After I shot the heck out of the ants, I got carried away in the prairie with some interesting subjects.  
From September 2012
My friend James identified these as Lasius interjectus.  This is a female (queen), and the males were smaller and black.  I love the red color on these queens.  I want to paint my truck that color.
There has been a profusion of Spotted Cucumber Beetles this fall.  Now it seems that everything is eating them.
From September 2012
Assassin bug eating said beetle.
From September 2012
Carolina mantis eating same species of beetle.
The next day when I let the dogs out I saw an interesting bee on the goldenrod in my prairie.  I ran back in the house to get the camera.  As you might guess, the bee was gone on my return.  Fortunately, there was a small lycaenid butterfly on an aster.  I got one photo before Gretchen ran over and scared it away.  
From September 2012
Luckily, I nailed it in one shot.  There’s a running gag in the camera club about my taking a million frames of every subject.  So, suck on that!  Turns out it’s a Red-banded Hairstreak, a new species for me.  Actually, I shot one a couple of weeks ago, but it was a horribly torn-up specimen.  According to the field guide, we are right on the edge of its distribution.  Who knows, it could be a new record!
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