This past July we spent three weeks in the beautiful state of Oregon. Oh, Oregon! A state that possesses vast spaces of natural beauty, great habitat diversity, and some very spectacular scenery.
We spent a week in the city of Portland and used that location to explore the Pacific coast, Mt. Hood, and the Columbia River Gorge. Most exciting was the day I spent climbing over rocks at low tide exploring tide pools at Ecola State Park. There I fell in love with anemones. Sensual and mesmerizing creatures, I was completely captivated by their movement, color, and mystery.
Pictured above are aggregating anemones (Anthopleura elegantissima), the ones with the white and pink-tipped tentacles. Gorgeous aren't they? These anemones reproduce by cloning. They simply divide themselves in half, and voila, instead of one you have two.
This photograph shows two giant green anemones, Anthopleura xanthogrammica. They were huge--maybe 7" or 8" across. Unlike aggregate anemones they do not reproduce by cloning. Procreation requires absolutely no body contact. Instead, they release eggs and sperm into the water where the larvae that form eventually find their own place to settle down.
Here's another giant green anemone. I love the subtle color, the beckoning pose. It's wide open, waiting perhaps for a meal to come. In the center lies the mouth. Though anemones fasten themselves to a substrate, they don't need to move about to hunt. They wait for food to come to them, and when it does their tentacles emit a poisonous, paralyzing sting. Anemone prey includes crabs, fish, and unattached mussels.
After Portland we drove south to Crater Lake National Park where I was expecting to see a big beautiful lake, but the Park is so much more than that. It's an astonishing landscape; one that was sculpted by the explosion of the gigantic Mount Mazama volcano that erupted over 7,000 years ago. One day we hiked down to the shore of the lake and boarded a boat for Wizard Island. Wizard Island, pictured here, is basically a volcano inside a volcano.
The tree trunks of the tall, straight pine trees that grow on Wizard Island are covered with shaggy, brilliant green Wolf Lichen which some people mistakenly refer to as moss. And, yes, like the pure blue of the water in the picture above, the bright green color of the lichen is exactly what we saw.
From Crater Lake we headed east to the small town of Lostine in Wallowa County which is not far from the Idaho border. Mountains, forests, rivers, lakes, canyons, prairies: all can be found in this sparsely populated section of Oregon. I guess it's no wonder I saw so many insects there. Next to bees, butterflies were the most numerous, and I will close with three of my favorite lepidopteran finds.
This may look to some like a butterfly, but it's a moth. I watched it busily feeding among Shasta daisies in our cousins' garden. It's Latin name is Gnophaela vermiculata, but it is commonly referred to as "Police Car Moth". Named for its bold black and white pattern, and, I assume, the 'headlights' suggested by the two tufts of yellow just behind the head.
This beauty belongs to a group of butterflies called "fritillaries". I love it when I see one. It may be because I like the sound of the word "fritillary" which comes from the Latin word frittulus meaning "dice box". But it might be because I like the way the dorsal (upper) side of their wings are marked with many black dots--kind of like the way dice are. It's not always easy to distinguish one species from another because the patterns on their wings can be so similar. This one may be a Zerene Fritillary.
I found this Lorquin's Admiral (Limentis lorquini) pictured above and below, 'puddling' along the sandy shore of the Lostine River. It fed there for the longest time. Butterflies gather essential minerals and amino acids this way, and I read that it's mostly male butterflies that do this. Evidently the intake of sodium aids them in reproductive success: the added nutrient helping to ensure that the eggs he fertilizes will survive. I think this is the most beautiful butterfly I saw in Oregon. I love the colorful wing patterns above and below, and those orange eyes!
Thanks for sending these. They are (predictably) wonderful! I remember my cousin capturing and chloroforming butterflies, then pinning them on a board - the OLD way of displaying beautiful insect creatures. I sure like your way better!
As per usual, fabulous!
Fantastic Linda! The green anemones are like an abstracted Crater Lake. : -)
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