A Zebra Conchylodes moth (Conchylodes ovulalis) came to visit a couple of days ago.
Maybe I should drape a black border around this post. It is, in some sense, a death announcement.
Not long after we moved to Clarksburg we took the wrong turn returning from an outing at Audra State Park and found ourselves on the Carrollton Covered Bridge. What a wonderful find, we said. And through the years since then we have escorted any number of visitors to see this charming bridge. I wrote a brief note about it in 2010, with a nice picture of the massive beams that support it (rshelfer.wordpress.com/2010/04/28/carrollton-covered-bridge/), and Lisa wrote a couple of notes about it as well (ldeg.wordpress.com/2010/04/16/easter-at-audra/ and ldeg.wordpress.com/2010/04/29/tygart-junction/).
The bridge was completed in 1856, and has stood as a crossing of the Buckhannon River ever since. It has survived the Civil War, storms and floods, and the destructions of age and changes in fashion. It’s part of the preferred route to Audra State Park for many people.
We were last there on Sunday, 6 August, this year when we took our friend Margaret to see it, unsurprisingly on our way back to Clarksburg from an excursion to Audra.
On the morning of 11 August we discovered that the bridge was on fire. Apparently someone decided that it had been there too long, so set it aflame the night before. At this time, it’s not known whether it can be restored. As far as I know, the arsonist has not yet been identified.
For more information on the bridge and its burning, see:
Rick Steelhammer (Charleston, WV, Gazette-Mail): www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170811/GZ01/170819888
Bridgehunter.com, Historic and Notable Bridges of the U.S.: bridgehunter.com/wv/barbour/carrollton-covered/
#FreeBraxxie — The Flatwoods Monster first appeared to residents of Flatwoods, West Virginia, on 12 September 1952. We visited him while questing for a cemetery in the area on 17 August 2017.
Above is a representation of the monster, also known as The Braxton County Monster, or “Braxxie” to his friends, in the form of a ten-foot-tall chair. The seat part is on the other side of the monster. As described in the placard reproduced below, there are five of these chairs distributed along the Flatwoods Monster Chair Trail. The one pictured above is in Flatwoods itself, near the original sighting, indicated by the letter A on the map below.
You can read a summary history of “Braxxie” and the chairs by clicking on the image above (ignore the strange people who appear to be trapped in the sign — they’re just a mirage). Or you can visit the official web site at BraxtonWV.org/Braxxie.
Artwork and information are attributed to Braxton County CVB.
It’s not unusual to see bits of white fluff floating in the air. I usually assume that the fluff is carrying seeds — dandelions or milkweed or cottonwood or whatever — and maybe the seed has fallen off leaving just the fluff floating on its own. At some point, though, I began to realize that some of those bits of fluff show volition. They weren’t just floating on the breeze, they were flying in the air, choosing the direction they fly. I tried to get close enough to see what they really were.
The blighters are pretty evasive, but eventually I managed to get close enough to see more clearly. Instead of just bits of fluff I found rather pretty little white, winged insects encased in blueish white “fur”. They’re tiny, hard to see clearly even up close. And they tend to fly off suddenly. But I did manage to get a couple of clear pictures.
A search on the Internet revealed that these are Woolly Aphids (Eriosomatinae), members of a tribe of insects whose nymphs live, like normal aphids, by sucking the juices of host plants, but who, unlike normal aphids, adorn themselves with a waxy, whitish secretion that makes them appear to have fur. The adults, the ones I’ve seen flying about, are migrating from where they were born and grew to a new host plant to continue their life cycle, lay eggs, and create the next generation.
There are a number of different species of this beast, apparently named according to their primary host. I don’t know which ones we have — I’d probably have to get an entomologist to tell me. And I haven’t noticed much sign of fluffy colonies on any of our plants. But I think this stem might show evidence of a woolly aphid colony rather than a crowd of spittlebugs.
After reading a number of articles about Woolly Aphids and fruit trees, I think I should pay closer attention to our fruit trees from now on.
Visited our yard this afternoon, stayed long enough for this portrait.
Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). I think it’s a male.
They’ve been flitting about the yard for a while, but never staying in one spot long enough for me to look closely, much less take a picture. This one just sat down on a defunct purple coneflower blossom and waited while I got a camera. As soon as I had taken this picture it flew away.