The Different Among the Familiar: The Past Week in Eliza Howell Park

After more than 2000 nature walks in Eliza Howell Park, I have learned what to expect at various times of the year. It has been both exciting and sarisfying this past week to observe many the same colorful wildflower and butterfly species that I usually see in mid to late July. 

It is also true, though, that I will frequently see something new, even after all these visits. This week there were three notable first-time observations.

This is the first time that I have seen an American Snout in Eliza Howell Park. A Snout is a butterfly more often seen south of here, not at all common in southeast Michigan.

It only takes a quick look to understand the origin of its name! The very familiar Wild Bergamot is being visited by a different kind of butterfly.

As I was checking some of the many Common Milkweed plants for signs of Monarch larvae, I noticed that something else has been eating the leaves. Monarch caterpillars eat the whole leaf. This “something else” left the veins.

I will now be looking to find these caterpillars in action. Until I find them, my identification is tentative, but I suspect that these leaves were eaten by small Milkweed Tussock Moth caterpillars. I have seen adults, but have not yet seen the larvae on milkweed leaves.

As I was looking to see how the fruit of the Hawthorn trees is developing. I saw that some of the hawthorn apples are this year hosting a fungal growth.

This is also something that I have not  previously seen in the park. It looks to me to fit descriptions of Cedar Quince Rust fungus. This fungus reportedly does not typically do long-term damage to the trees.

It’s fascinating.

Most of my time and attention this week  remained on the seasonal highlights that are here each year.

It was a week of great butterfly watching.  Butterflies are most approachable when they are nectaring.

From top left clockwise: Viceroy at False Sunflower, E. Tiger Swallowtail at Purple Coneflower,  Cabbage White at Canada Thistle, and Silver-spotted Skipper at Wild Bergamot.

Flower watching was good this week even when no butterflies were present.

Yellow Coneflower
Joe Pye Weed behind False Sunflower

I always enjoy watching bumblebees collect orange or yellow colored pollen in the “baskets” on their hindlegs.

Among the many visible insects these days are dragonflies. The large Twelve-spotted Skimmer is one of my favorites.


Nature is predictable and nature is often surpring. Most sights are familiar; some are new. Both the familiar and the new please and educate.Together they keep me coming back, even on these hot summer days.

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