Along the Air Line... 2018 - Summer, Part 14
The Air Line Trail in Eastern Connecticut - Stan Malcolm Photos

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September 8th. Nodding Ladies'-tresses (Spiranthes cernua).



There used to be a decent population of this orchid near the marsh (and another near Cranberry Bog in East Hampton).  Both have been nearly (or entirely) crowded out by shading plants above.






September 11th.  White-blotched Heterocampa (Heterocampa umbrata) caterpillar.  The two maroon knobs atop the first thoracic segment distinguish this species from similar relatives.



I found it wandering on the trail.  It has started to change shape for the coming transition to the pupal stage: more oval than elongate, the abdominal prolegs less visible.  The color has started to darken from green to a mauve just behind the head, and from white to tan along the back.









The caterpillar's teeny simple eyes (Stemmata) are located near the bottom of the head, near the antennae (which have a yellow basal segment).  You can make out four of the six in this photo.  Clearly, caterpillars make little use of sight, perhaps only distinguishing horizontal from vertical features.  Most of their sensation is chemical or tactile.



Summer Fishfly (Chauliodes pectinicornis).  Fishflies are not flies; they're in the ancient order Megaloptera.



Fishflies are closely related to the much larger Dobsonflies, and slighly less closely related to Green Lacewings (Order Neuroptera).



This will give you a sense of scale.  Larvae are aquatic; adults live a week or two at best.



7:00 P.M.  Massive color change in the 10 hours since I took the earlier pictures of the White-blotched Heterocampa.






I wonder what it will be like by morning.  By the way, the moth looks like this:



September 12th.  Closed Gentian (Gentiana andrewsii).






Crocus Geometer (Xanthotype sospeta).  The caterpillar feeds on many deciduous trees, shrubs, and low growth - but not crocus.  (Go figure.)



September 13th.  A short walk east from the end of the Colchester Spur.  Dodder (Cuscuta gronovii), a parasitic vine lacking chlorphyll.



Multicolored Asian Lady Beetles (Harmonia axyridis).









Larva of the same species.



A species of Leaf Beetle (Family Chrysomelidae, Ophraella communa).



Not a beetle, though superficially similar to some, this is the Anchor Stink Bug (Stiretrus anchorago).



Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (Halyomorpha halys).



A Leafhopper (Family Cicadellidae, Neokolla hieroglyphica).



Two-striped Planthopper (Acanalonia bivittata).



A thorn-mimic Treehopper (Family Membracidae, Campylenchia latipes).



Fall Webworm (Hyphantria cunea).



A Braconid parasitic wasp (Family Braconidae), roughly 7mm long.



September 14th.  Nodding Ladies'-tresses (Spiranthes cernua) still in good shape.



Individual flowers are pretty and complex.  (September 15th update.  The trail edges were mowed and cut back yesterday.  This last orchid was one of the casualties.  "Collateral damage.")



Daisy Fleabane (Erigeron annuus) amid Goldenrod (Solidago sp.).



Last of the Meadowsweet (Spiraea alba) for this year.



A Long-jawed Orb-weaver spider (Tetragnatha sp.) has captured a Grass-veneer moth (Family Crambidae).



September 15th.  A living though beat up Grass-veneer moth (Family Crambidae) like the one in a spider's grasp yesterday.



The view north from the bench in the marsh.  Wide open view since yesterday's mowing and shrub trimming.



Unfortunately, the machine used to trim shrubs leaves unsightly shredded stumps.



The southeastern view from the trail shows just how far succession is taking the marsh towards a wet meadow.



A bit further west, still facing south, there's more (more-or-less) open water still.  Foggy this morning.






Fragrant Water Lily (Nymphaea odorata).






Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa) are among the few birds I've seen lately.



A short detour down the Colchester Spur was rewarded by seeing this American Beaver (Castor canadensis).


















A gentle dive, no splash, and it was gone.



Red Clover (Trifolium pratense).



Nifty optical illusion with this mushroom photo.  For me, the perspective flips: first with the top edge appearing nearer, then the bottom edge.









Yes, an acorn.



GMC Farm riders saddling up for a trail ride.  See them on Facebook: or visit their web site: