Sunday, August 31, 2008

Getting Close to the Madding Crowd

The party's over. The artesian well of nectar that for weeks on end fed all who made the journey to a batch of backyard boneset is now finally running dry. As can be seen from the crowd in this photo, and the nearly 50 different species shown in the seven previous posts, the plants generated phenomenal buzz in the insect community. It was an extraordinarily diverse gathering, and peaceful. True, a few insects became meals for spiders, but the vegetarian bees, wasps, moths, flies, butterflies and bugs grazed in harmony like herds of megafauna on the great plains of Africa.

You have to admire the ambition of a flower that tries to be, and succeeds in being, all things to all bees. The plant is like a miniature town, its stems and leaves providing cover, and avenues for ladybugs to patrol like Pacmen in an old video game. Bumble bees slept under its blossoms at night, like drunks who can't quite make it home from the local saloon.

Now the deed is done, the nectar drained, the pollen carted off and stowed. Flowers fade and seeds ripen. This Fly-By-Day operation, after mesmerizing the insect world for many weeks, finally closes down, making room for other, later flowering species to step forward and garner attention. As it happens, Late-Flowering Boneset--a different species of Eupatorium scattered here and there across the Princeton landscape--is just opening for business.

No comments:

Post a Comment