Snails, Turkeytails, and Swallowtails

I spent more time up at the park again on Sunday.  As a matter of fact, nine of the featured pictures in this post were taken at the wildflower meadow on Spruce Run trail.  I guess it's a testament to the important role wildflowers play; I saw more than one butterfly absolutely covered in pollen.

Thin-Leaved Sunflower (Helianthus decapetalus) - 
Thin-Leaved Sunflower attract many types of insects, especially butterflies and bees which suck the nectar and pollen from its large, yellow flowers.  Typically three to five feet tall, this native perennial, which is also known as the Forest Sunflower, is one of the many different types of Sunflowers in North America.

Turkeytail Mushroom (Trametes versicolor) - 
This is the first Turkeytail mushroom I've found this year and it seems a little early, so I hope that means it's going to be a good year for them since they are so incredibly colorful, even through the winter months.  While this specimen is full of tan and orange, I've seen blues, greens, reds, and even purples over the years.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly ♀ (Papilio glaucus) - 
I spotted this female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly through the tall grasses in the wildflower meadow, which I think made for a cool picture.  Eastern Tiger Swallowtails are very common in our area and are widely distributed in eastern North America.  Like all other swallowtails, they get their name from the "tails" on their backwings.  Typically female Eastern Tiger Swallowtails are yellow, but black morphs such as this one are common too.

Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) with Snail - 
I'm 90% sure this is an Oyster mushroom, but I can't say for certain.  And when I took the picture, I didn't even see the forest snail off to the side and I have no idea what species it is.  But I liked the photo even though my lens was a little foggy from the humidity.

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) - 
Wild Bergamot is a close relative of Oswego Tea (Monarda didyma), which I posted a few weeks ago.  Both have nearly identical flower structure, both stand about chest height, and the only real difference I readily see is the color of their flowers where Wild Bergamot tends to be purplish white and Oswego Tea is bright red.

Eastern Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) - 
Eastern Purple Coneflowers are commonly used in landscaping so a lot of people are familiar with them.  They stand two to five feet tall and have a beautiful orangish red flower surrounded by purple petals.  As with the other flowers of the Echinacea species, they are widely known for their medicinal properties.

Hummingbird Moth (Hemaris thysbe) - 
Hummingbird Moths are aptly named since they look, fly, and have similar feeding habits just like true Hummingbirds.  It is really odd to me how similar they actually are, but Hummingbird Moths are beautiful in their own right.  This was the only picture I was able to get, so thankfully it was in focus since the moth was gone a few seconds later.

Dense Blazing Star (Liatris spicata) - 
Dense Blazing Star is a tall perennial that prefers moist ground in open meadows.  So the wildflower meadows up at the park are ideal habitat and the meadow I visited on Sunday had many Dense Blazing Stars in full bloom.  Reaching two to four feet tall, Dense Blazing Star's purple flowers grow along a single stem in clusters.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail ♂ (Papilio glaucus) - 
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies typically feed on the nectar of many species of red, purple, and pink flowers, such as this Dense Blazing Star I found this one feeding on.  Eastern Tiger Swallowtails get their name from the black tiger-like stripes on the fore wings.  Adult Eastern Tiger Swallowtails are known to fly high above the ground, often times well above the tree tops.

Yellow Coneflower (Rudbeckia hirta) - 
There are a lot of Sunflowers.  Then there are a lot of flowers that look like Sunflowers... so it's a challenge to correctly identify "Sunflower-looking" wildflowers.  But I'm pretty sure this is  Yellow Coneflower, which is also more commonly known as Black Eyed Susan.

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) - 
I haven't come across Butterfly Weed lately, but I found a few plants in the wildflower meadow up in the park.  As I've written before, their orange flowers are so vibrant that in the right light, they can almost glow.  As far as the green insects busy feeding in the picture, I believe they are Green Sweat Beas (Augochlora pura).

Common Chicory (Cichorium intybus) -
Even though it is not native to our area, I think Chicory is an absolutely beautiful blue flower and it's deeply "toothed" petals give it an interesting silhouette.  If you look for Chicory, go early since most days, especially sunny days, the blossoms close up later in the day.  I typically see a lot of Chicory along the roads and clearings in the forest.

More Pictures:

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail ♂ (Papilio glaucus)

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Eastern Daisy Fleabane (Erigeron annus)

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail ♀ (Papilio glaucus)