Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Beach in November

Yesterday afternoon, I took advantage of the 70+ degree weather to visit the beach.

It’s actually a beach along the Great Miami River, in Shawnee Lookout Park, part of the Hamilton County, Ohio park district. The warm weather notwithstanding, the beach can be a pretty barren place, at least at first glance.

But the butterflies of summer – really late summer that is, or even fall – were still present. We have had quite an influx of southern butterflies this year, and a couple have obviously lingered into November. Despite several sub-freezing nights, this Common Buckeye, Junonia coenia, was still active, and looking not terribly worn.

Much rarer in Ohio, at least in normal years, is this poorly-photographed Dainty Sulphur, Nathalis iole. There were at least five individuals on the beach yesterday, and over 20 were here in September. They normally aren’t able to overwinter in Ohio, even as eggs. But they’ve been here in numbers long enough to deposit eggs, and if global warming gives an extraordinarily mild winter, then just maybe . . .

Except for the willows, there wasn’t much green on the beach. Most of the plants, including these Jimsonweeds, Datura stramonium, were just dried husks. Jimsonweed, while not native, is an interesting, and interesting-looking, plant. In the right quantities, various parts of the plants are hallucinogenic. In slightly smaller quantities, it is deadly.

As they dry, the seed heads split open to reveal masses of black seeds.

These stink bugs, quite possibly Brown Stink Bug, Euschistus servus, either knew the right dosage or, more likely, aren’t affected by the chemicals in the Jimsonweed. More importantly, I just liked the photograph.