Monthly Archives: July 2013

Botany at 70 MPH

While driving on the highway Kelly and I often notice the lifeforms we are seeing on the

28 July 2013 Wyatt, MO

28 July 2013 Wyatt, MO

roadside. This weekend while on our way to some of Kelly’s plots we stopped in Mississippi County, MO near Wyatt to look at some Dipsacus (teasel) Kelly noticed on a previous trip. Sure enough, Dipsacus laciniatus was present in a few small patches along the road – yet another invasive weed for the Missouri Bootheel, as it’s presence has not yet been noted in that part of the state.

Back in 2008, Dylan Levy-Boyd and I found Dipsacus fullonum to be an important nectar source for butterflies in the South Hills of the Sawtooth National Forest (Fothergill and Levy-Boyd 2008). In Idaho Dipsacus was usually found on fairly oligotrophic soils. Shaw and Shackleton (2011) documented a reason that Dipsacus fullonum may be able to thrive in these soils – it is a carnivorous plant, trapping insects in its cup shaped leaves!

Dipsacus laciniatus, may not be able to catch insects with its different leaf structure, but then again maybe it can. Hopefully, I will have some time to observe the plant closer in the future.


Fothergill, K., and D. Levy-Boyd. 2008.  Interactions between butterflies (Lepidoptera: Rhopalocera) and plants (Spermatophyta: Magnoliophyta) in Cassia, Gooding, Minidoka, Oneida, and Twin Falls Counties, Idaho. Journal of the Idaho Academy of Science 44.2:11-28.

Shaw, P.J.A. and K. Shackleton. 2011. Carnivory in the Teasel Dipsacus fullonum — The Effect of Experimental Feeding on Growth and Seed Set. PLoS ONE 6.3: e17935. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0017935

Lights! Cameras! Action!

Yesterday, while weeding the native garden we installed earlier. I again got to enjoy Trachymyrmex septentrionalis. This time I found the ladies moving the fallen blossoms of Lagerstroemia indica (crepe myrtle). It was so cool to watch the fallen blossoms moving along the ground I shot a little cell phone video so you could see too (click on link to view).

I hope you are finding wonderful and awesome things in your yard (they are there) also.

Household IPM

Well, it has happened that we discovered signs (mouse poo) of a mouse in our kitchen. So, I

Our household rodent security system

Our household rodent security system

will have to step up the household IPM in that regard. We already employee a very expensive form of mouse IPM, Kathy Lee the cat. Luckily, we don’t actually count on Kathy Lee to do anything. Kelly might use this as an opportunity to push for more cats because it is obvious that our mouse load is more than Kathy Lee can handle by herself…

Within an IPM framework, it is important to note that there are several paths to the goal of pest management and employing more than one method can create synergies making all methods more effective. My plan will be to put some traps out of the Kathy Lee’s reach and leave the door to the pantry open providing her full access. A really bad plan would be to use a poison bait as this could have the side effect of making Kathy Lee less effective. Of course Kelly’s plan of more cats would increase the household cuteness, but throwing more of the same type of control that has already failed seems like a bad idea (and I think our dog is in agreement with me).


Documenting Biodiversity

Today while picking veggies in the garden, I noticed Pieris rapae (Cabbage White) sheltering

Pieris rapae 18 July 2013 Weakley County, TN

Pieris rapae 18 July 2013 Weakley County, TN

from a light rain in the tomato plants. According to Butterflies and Moths of North America this common, ubiquitous, invasive species had not yet been documented in Weakly County, so this photograph provided documentation of occurrence.

Sure, it would have been cool to see a super rare species, but even the most common and non-native/invasive species need to be documented. It also would be cool to not have P. rapae larvae competing for our bok choy. The first step in conserving biodiversity is knowing the patterns of distribution. Consider submitting photos from your backyard to – you might be surprised at how poorly documented your home county is.

107-2013-07-07 15.21.59On a ‘the bok choy is lost’ note, earlier this month I documented caterpillars of Evergestis rimosalis (another Weakley County first record) in our brassicaceous garden crops. We have also had Murgantia histrionica also come in to enjoy our brassicaceous plants.

You do not enjoy a garden alone…

Sand Prairie Conservation Area: Test of cell phone (android) blog app

I recently visited Sand Prairie Conservation area in Scott County, MO.


Sand Prairie is a fantastic place to go. There you will find: interesting plants, tiger beetles, and other things to make you wonder. On the day I was there, it was too hot for tiger beetles. There were quite a few Bembix wasps hunting the area, and an abundance of dragonflies. I think they were Tramea onusta, but we will see what Odonata Central has to say…