Along the Air Line... 2014 - Summer, Part 9
The Air Line Trail in Eastern Connecticut - Stan Malcolm Photos

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Stan Malcolm Photo



September 4th.  An afternoon walk near Grayville Falls.  Various late summer Asters.









Slender Ladies'-tresses Orchid (Spiranthes gracilis).  A single specimen of a species I've never seen on the trail before.  (I occasionally see Nodding Ladies'-tresses, though not this year.)



The slender single spiral of flowers and the green lip are diagnostic.



A Tachinid Fly on Goldenrod.



A Common Wood Nymph (Cercyonis pegala).



Downstrean from where Raymond Brook empties into the Jeremy River.



A very tentative Laccaria sp., perhaps L. laccata - with thanks to Terry Stoleson for attempting an ID with little besides the photo to go on.  For more on L. laccata and discussion of other Laccaria species, see:



Wrinkled-cap Psathyrella (Psathyrella delineata). Thanks to Terry Stoleson for the ID.  For more, see:



Seedhead of Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arasaema atrorubens).



Caterpillar of the Spotted Apatalodes moth (Apatalodes torrefacta).  They can be white or yellow.



Flowers of Turtlehead (Chelone glabra) often start to turn brown almost as soon as they open.



I've seen relatively few Northern Water Snakes (Nerodia sipedon) at the marsh this year.  This young one was basking on the trail and didn't want to retreat.



September 5th.  This leaf calls out for someone to transform it into a fish with Photoshop.



Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) and Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) often climb the same tree.



Humidity fog over Raymond Brook Marsh again.





















A young (or eclipse) male Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) seen through the fog over the marsh.



A female Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens), one of three foraging close together.



September 10th.  Back at the marsh after a few days away for a New Hampshire working vacation.  Pretty afternoon.






Closed Gentian (Gentiana andrewsii).



September 12th.  A young Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) stopped by the marsh briefly.  When I first saw it, it held a fish in its beak, but I was too slow to get a photo.



A mature male Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) was more cooperative.



The Black-etched Prominent (Cerura scitiscripta) caterpillars have all made cocoons, a combination of silk and chewed plant tissue deposited along the stem.  See previous page for mature caterpillars.



The lone Western Furcula caterpillar (Furcula occidentalis) harvested from willow at the marsh is mature.  It looks superficially like the Black-etched Prominent but differes in several ways.






The Skiff Moth caterpillar (Prolimacodes badia) has molted and was busy eating its cast skin.



Recall the parasite egg on its back when I first found it? See previous page for photo. Now you can see the terminal abdominal breathing tube of the fly parasite sticking through the caterpillar's body where the egg was deposited.  You can also see the scar left by the fly larva on the cast skin.



September 17th.  A Crowned Slug caterpillar (Isa textula) found on a fallen oak leaf near the Route 85 trailhead.



Don't touch them!



The thin tips of the spines break off and embed themselves in skin (or predators like ants) while the thicker tubular bases release venom into the wounds, causing a rash.



Thanks to Mark Smith of Macroscopic Solutions for taking these two views on an oak leaf using The Macropod set-up for stacking macro images. 

Please follow these links to view the original images at full size.  The details will amaze you!



September 18th.  The Western Furcula caterpillar (Furcula occidentalis) has spun its cocoon.  Very similar to that of the Black-etched Prominent, above.



A male Snowy Tree Cricket.






Asters at Cranberry Bog, East Hampton.



September 19th, afternoon.  A Great Egret (Ardea alba) takes time out for a scratch.  I haven't seen a Great Egret on the marsh in many years!  When I do see them, they tend not to hang around very long.

































Most likely an Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) or perhaps a different Flycatcher.



Two more views and a fantastic video of the Skiff Moth caterpillar (Prolimacodes badia) thanks to Mark Smith of Macroscopic Solutions.  The dark spot on its back is the location of a parasitic fly's breathing tube.  After the caterpillar is full grown, it will make its cocoon and overwinter with the fly larva dormant.  In the spring when the caterpillar would normally transform into a pupa, then emerge as an adult moth, the fly larva will take over and grow instead, emerging as an adult fly from the host's husk of a body.

This still image can be viewed in its original large, super-detailed size here:



This still image can be viewed in its original large, super-detailed size here: 
Note that the white filamentous objects on the leaf and occasionally clinging to the caterpillar are "stellate trichomes", a kind of hair found on oak and other leaves. 

Now, you really must see Mark's video of this "slug" caterpillar in motion!



September 22nd.  The last picture of Summer, 2014.