The 6th annual Midwest Native Plant Conference took place this weekend, and what a great time it was. For the fifth year in a row, we centered the event at Bergamo Center on the sprawling grounds of Mount St. John, just outside of Dayton. CLICK HERE for the conference website and all of the details.
As has been the case every year, the conference filled to capacity, which is about 170 people. I think we could make it larger, but bigger is not always better and none of us involved in its planning wishes to move it. The venue is perfect. A big thanks to everyone who works hard, and more or less all year, to make this thing come together. Keynote speakers, numerous concurrent breakout sessions, field trips, multiple vendors of native plants, numerous other exhibitors, meals - all of the things that make for LOTS of work and planning.
As is often the case at these conferences, I get so busy with this, that, and the other thing that I never pull out the camera to photo-document the event. So all I come away with, photo-wise, are some images from field trips that I was on. At least I can share some of those.
This is a subadult Wheelbug, Arilus cristatus - death in the flowers. These assassin bugs are always crowd-pleasers; all the more so when people learn of their gruesome killing tactics. Wheelbugs stalk their victims - usually lesser insects - pounce, and stab the prey with that powerful hypodermic needle of a proboscis that is folded beneath its head. Chemicals are injected which liquefy the prey's innards, which are then sucked back out through the same proboscis.
The conference grounds are rich in singing insects, and we always focus on them on our nighttime trips. We want to help people tune in to the sounds of the night and the insects that create the symphony. The conehead katydids are always popular, and I suspect that some of the uninitiated think that we are pulling their legs when we talk about them. So, we always do our best to go into the meadows and capture one, and that's what we've done here. This is a Sword-bearing Conehead, Neoconocephalus ensiger.
There are numerous Honey Locust trees close at hand; in fact, some of them were overshadowing the native plant vendors where the moths appeared. It's in those trees where the caterpillars were probably feeding. The moths were found on one of the plants that was for sale at a vendor's booth.
Cedar Bog, we were shown this beautiful chrysalis. I think it was found by Jill Michaels at her property, but I'm not sure. Anyway, it is that of a Question Mark butterfly, Polygonia interrogationis.Note the beautiful silvery splashes on the side, as if a welder slopped some molten silver onto the structure.
Thanks again to all of the speakers, organizers, field trips leaders, and attendees who made for another great Midwest Native Plant Conference. And big thanks, as always, to everyone at Bergamo Center for the great hospitality and flawless service.
Planning has already begun for the 2015 conference, and I hope that you can make it.