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Old 05-31-2011, 07:42 PM   #1
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John (tineckbone) and I went to a family reunion in PA this past weekend. It was a beautiful location in Shickshinny, PA, the homestead of my Aunt Mary. Beautiful old farmhouse, built in the mid 1800s, being slowly restored by my cousin Ricky. The area has a lot of old farms, many of which are no longer being farmed. Much of the old farmland has turned into woodlands over the past 30 years or so.

Since all of the cousins got the O'Brien gene to love Nature, we spent much of the day taking short walks around the 140 plus acres. John was in his glory with all the plants and bugs; I was thrilled to see bluebirds, hear hermit thrushes and wood thrushes and I saw my first bobolinks!!

As we were taking one of our walks to a neighbor's farm, I noticed these caterpillars on the side of the road. It turns out they were Baltimore Checkerspot larvae! These critters have an amazing life cycle and only have one brood per year. They are endangered in Maryland; not sure of their status elsewhere.

Needless to say, this was definitely one of the many highlights of our day.
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Old 05-31-2011, 07:48 PM   #2
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A few years back I took a class at the Mt. Cuba Center to hear Doug Tallamy speak. He said that a nursery in New Jersey had a caterpillar nibbling away at all their White Turtle Head, Chelone glabra, and they were smart enough to have them identified before taking action. So everyone who took the course got to take home a White Turtle Head plant, which I still have today. So they're still around even in NJ but no where near as common. Excellent find.
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Old 05-31-2011, 08:04 PM   #3
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John (tineckbone) and I went to a family reunion in PA this past weekend. It was a beautiful location in
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Originally Posted by bridget1964 View Post
Shickshinny, PA, the homestead of my Aunt Mary. Beautiful old farmhouse, built in the mid 1800s, being slowly restored by my cousin Ricky. The area has a lot of old farms, many of which are no longer being farmed. Much of the old farmland has turned into woodlands over the past 30 years or so.
Since all of the cousins got the O'Brien gene to love Nature, we spent much of the day taking short walks around the 140 plus acres. John was in his glory with all the plants and bugs; I was thrilled to see bluebirds, hear hermit thrushes and wood thrushes and I saw my first bobolinks!!

Sounds wonderful, bridget. Please tell John he is missed here...I've been meaning to e-mail him to tell him myself, but I'm quite the procrastinator.

GREAT photo--contest worthy! You should enter it...You still have a couple of hours...I hope you are still up to see this.
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Old 05-31-2011, 08:11 PM   #4
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I've got Chelone glabra and Penstemon digitalis (Husker) planted fairly near each other, with some mountain mint (Pycnanthemum virginiana?) to hopefully attract the adults, and keep watch for B'more Checkerspots to appear.

Nothing last year, when I thought I might have achieved 'critical mass', maybe this will be the year!

Either way, I'm definitely planting more Chelone in the fall. . .
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Old 05-31-2011, 08:14 PM   #5
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Sounds wonderful, bridget. Please tell John he is missed here...I've been meaning to e-mail him to tell him myself, but I'm quite the procrastinator.

GREAT photo--contest worthy! You should enter it...You still have a couple of hours...I hope you are still up to see this.
Great find and photos! Also, I want to echo Dap's words of how Tineckbone is missed. Are his fingers broken????
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Old 05-31-2011, 08:42 PM   #6
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Are his fingers broken????

LOL!

(Gee, I really hope they are not, or I'll feel badly for laughing.)
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Old 05-31-2011, 08:45 PM   #7
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I've got Chelone glabra and Penstemon digitalis (Husker) planted fairly near each other, with some mountain mint (Pycnanthemum virginiana?) to hopefully attract the adults, and keep watch for B'more Checkerspots to appear.

Nothing last year, when I thought I might have achieved 'critical mass', maybe this will be the year!

Either way, I'm definitely planting more Chelone in the fall. . .
Good luck, Teresa.


I think I'd better start planting Chelone too. It is on my list, but now that I know it is a host plant, I may have to move it up to the top.
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Old 05-31-2011, 09:17 PM   #8
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Hey, anyone know the rules for entering a photo in the monthly contests? Can we enter one FOR bridget? Seems she went to bed.

...Actually, I've gotta get to bed, too. If anyone thinks it is okay to enter it, and is up to do it, please do.

Good night, all.
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Old 06-01-2011, 09:17 AM   #9
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Yes, I'd always heard that Chelone glabra was the only host plant, but it appears the larva might feed on penstemon, and introduced plantain too.

We'll see when and if any arrive, though I think it's a bit early. . .

Here's a Washington Post Article, and I know there are several other good links about the Checkerspot--it's the state insect. I'll share them when I've found them.

Orange, Black And Rare All Over - washingtonpost.com
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Old 06-02-2011, 09:55 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by MrILoveTheAnts View Post
A few years back I took a class at the Mt. Cuba Center to hear Doug Tallamy speak. He said that a nursery in New Jersey had a caterpillar nibbling away at all their White Turtle Head, Chelone glabra, and they were smart enough to have them identified before taking action. So everyone who took the course got to take home a White Turtle Head plant, which I still have today. So they're still around even in NJ but no where near as common. Excellent find.
Wow! Doug Tallamy and free plants? Cool! Do you know if the checkerspot will use a purple turtlehead? John has that in the yard. He looked it up and it turns out it is a variation of the white. Not sure if they will use it as a host plant.

We really are thinking about going back to PA to see if we can find the caterpillars or chrysalides. My niece has a dance recital in a few weeks, so we may venture back to Shickshinny. My cousin who owns the land was THRILLED to hear about the cats. I have another photo from that same day of a butterfly we have yet to identify. I will try to post it here over the weekend. Soooo busy with field trips and programs at school right now!
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