Up close with a Black-legged Meadow Katydid. Tiny and grasshopper-like, this male is perhaps an inch long. You've heard them. They are abundant, and singers create a dry shuffling trill. The antennae - cut off in this photo - are extremely long, probably three times the length of the insect's body.
A leaf blade of Rice Cut Grass, Leersia oryzoides. Many people first notice this common native grass by feel rather than sight. If you look closely along the edge of the leaf, you'll see tiny teeth projecting outward. There are more of these stiff teeth along the midrib of the leaf, and they are quite sharp. Walking through a patch of cut grass in shorts can create lacerations significant enough to draw blood.
Like little armless round-headed aliens, the inflorescence of a Common Dodder plant surges from its host plant, a Dotted Smartweed, Polygonum punctatum. Dodders are not particularly easy to identify to species, but simple to recognize to genus. This one is Cuscuta gronovii, our most common species. It often forms large tangles over its host plants, and as it ripens takes on the look of masses of yellowish-orange spaghetti. Dodders, once germinated from their seed, quickly clamber up a suitable host plant. Once they have sufficiently imbedded themselves into the host via suckerlike rootlets known as haustoria, they break connection with the ground and become completely parasitic on the host. As all nutrients are derived from their victims, dodders lack chlorophyll, and normally kill the host over time.A Harvestman, or "daddy longlegs". As a friend of mine says, these odd spider allies look like a tiny potato that someone stuck legs into. This one appeared to be napping, and was not put off by my close approach. I have noticed that they appear much more active at night. Harvestman are roving hunters, engaging in seek and destroy patrols. Any hapless tiny critter that they encounter may be snatched up and eaten.
I look forward to more experimentation with my new camera and flash.