This is a blog about the pursuits of Naturalist Alan Russo to incorporate all things Natural, especially Plants, into his daily life. Living close to Nature has always been a passion of mine and I try, with natures help, to live a Healthy lifestyle for myself and for the Earth.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Nature Observations

  This last week many things have caught my eye, most having to do with the changing of the seasons. It may still be hot in NC and although some plants and animals get fooled by weather, most do not, as their very survival depends on it..
  Canada geese started to fly overhead again, the first time I saw them was in the evening about a week ago, they were heading north-west in one big V. The next morning they were flying south-east in two smaller V shapes. I remember this from last year. I never see Canada Geese all summer and  than they just show up and go back and forth for a while. I remember thinking, hey you should be heading SOUTH not northeast! Maybe they are just practicing?
  There are two Argiope spiders I have been following for awhile, one is in my garden and the other is right outside my living room window. Today both caught grasshoppers. Ever notice orb weaving spiders are hard to find all summer but in the fall they are all over the place. I think it's because they are getting big enough to be noticed, not that they suddenly appear of course. My favorites are the Argiope's as the bright colors are strong and contrast the environment, which is great for photography, most other large orb weavers are in the redish-brown color spectrum. Not to mention there size, the one outside my window is easily 2.75in outstretched! One of the cool things these spiders do, if you touch them while they are sitting quietly, is to start "rocking" the web back and forth violently by pumping their legs. I guess this is to scare away any would be predators.
  I love milkweed plants and when I moved down to NC I brought some with me in case I didn't have any on my property. They are edible and can be used to make a great cordage, not to mention the flowers are not only beautiful but smell amazing and attract tons of bees and butterflies. These are the Milkweeds that Monarchs love, and I planted them with the hope of attracting and raising lots of Monarchs. This year I was very disappointed to have seen only two Monarch butterflies all summer long and NO caterpillars on the plants. I remember when I was a kid first learning about Monarchs, I could go to any Milkweed plant and easily find  5 or 6 caterpillars of varying sizes on any plant I found. Than I would go back weeks later and find lots of chrysalis hanging. Sad to say those days are over. But a glimmer of hope! In the spring, I had dug up the Milkweed in my vegetable garden to move them to my Medicinal herb garden and all summer I was getting shoots from the roots that we left in the ground. It was a loosing battle, so I finally let them grow. Because of this they were way behind in their cycle and flowered only about two weeks ago (the ones left to grow natural have already seeded and are almost completely dead). These flowers were a beacon to any butterfly that came even close to my property as all the other flowers on my land had gone to seed already. One day I counted 10 Fritillarys fighting over 6 flower heads. About a week ago I saw a Monarch butterfly landing on the fresh green leaves, so I ran over to check if she was laying and I found several eggs on the leaves she visited. Today I counted 12 caterpillars on this tiny island sactuary of Milkweed!
  I saw my first "Fall" Dandelion flower the other day. Dandelions don't like the heat very much, so this summer especially, there were none to be found anywhere on my property. Its good to see them back. Dandelions are the coolest plants, they are extremely nutritious and are strong medicines to boot!
  I hope, if you are one of those people that get up early, you go outside every once in a while and look up. If you do you will notice that Orion is much higher in the sky these days, a sure sign Fall is on it's way.


  1. Hey Mr. Russo I'm still trying to figure out that butterfly we saw (I saw?) on our woods hike. Large, dull orange, but without obvious contrast of white or black. The Queen is not supposed to be in that area...?

    Nice pics!


  2. Wish I had gotten a better look at it, sorry.