The 3rd annual Midwest Native Plant Conference is approaching: July 8, 9, & 10 in Dayton, Ohio. If you are interested in native wildlife, this conference is for you. The focus is on native plants, but indigenous flora is the building block upon which animals flourish. Check the agenda out RIGHT HERE. There is a Saturday-only option as well, if time is tight.
One of the conference's field trip sites is the legendary Cedar Bog near Urbana. I was there last Saturday, ostensibly to teach a workshop on breeding birds, and we saw/heard plenty of those. But our group didn't ignore the entire ecosystem, either, and what an ecosystem! We saw a great many interesting plants and animals, and a few of the former follow.
Elderberry, especially when in flower, lures an amazing diversity of interesting insects. They in turn attract predators higher up in the insect food chain, which then can become food for birds and higher animals. An elderberry specialist of the insect world is an absolutely gorgeous beetle called the elderberry borer. I have wanted to see one of these gems since I first saw a photo, and finally added one to my beetle life list a few weekends ago. I'll share it later, in a post about the wacky world of beetles.
Most orchids have the labellum fixed at the lower part of the flower; this arrangement is reversed in Calopogon. The labellum is adorned with a thick brush of hairs which look as if they are coated in tasty nectar. They're not - it's a ruse, but one that has attracted this wasp. The wasp wasn't heavy enough, but if a bee - a common pollinator - lands on that brush of hairs, the labellum will quickly fold downwards, catapulting the bee onto the column where it will be dusted with pollen. Should the bee already carry pollen from another orchid, it'll transfer that to the the stigma and thus pollinate the grass-pink. Apparently, it's primarily the younger bumblebees that fall for this trick; older bees become wise to the deceptive ways of the orchid and learn that there is no tasty nectar reward and ignore the grass-pinks.
Anyway, come out to the Midwest Native Plant Conference and learn much more about our botanical world - and you can even buy some plants!