The flooding in the Midwest has been truly devastating in some areas. Fortunately for me, Leavenworth in comparison hasn’t been hit that hard… but we did nevertheless reach the standard of “major flooding” of the Missouri River on March 23rd. I went downtown to Leavenworth’s 2nd Street to take a look, and it was simultaneously shockingly high but also still staying near the boundary of the buildings… the river is set back from businesses on 2nd Street a fair ways by a railroad crossing as well as a park and river walk, so even though all of that got flooded out and it did reach some of the buildings on the river’s side of 2nd Street, it could’ve been much worse. I took a few photos, though if you’re not familiar with the area they might not be very impactful. I’ll have to see if I can remember to take some comparison photos at a future, more normal water level and update this post at some point.
Once again, I participated in the Annual Artisan's Show and Sale in downtown Leavenworth this past weekend! The Show and Sale was held on November 9th and 10th at First City Photo. The artist reception was held on Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. and the show continued on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Here is a photo of my reproductions sale table!
Spanish as a language doesn't have a real equivalent to the word "moth." In fact, the most commonly used option is "mariposa nocturna," which means nocturnal butterfly. I kind of think that's a little unfair to both moths and butterflies, though, as I believe there are many that are so visually distinct - not to mention behaviorally - as to merit a different category, not just a subcategory. So yay, English, for giving us both!
I've been seeing a much wider variety of insects (and, really, of animal life in general) on my porch this summer, and the moths have been one of my favorite parts! Here are a few I'd like to share with you. In order from first to last in the slideshow, they are: the honey locust moth (or the bisected honey locust moth) Syssphinx bicolor or Sphingicampa bicolor, a looper moth (inconclusive regarding the exact species given the closed wing position), a looper or a common oak moth Phoberia atomaris, a white-dotted prominent moth Nadata gibbosa, a common gray moth Anavitrinella pampinaria, and a fall webworm Hyphantria cunea.
I noticed these odd little eggs laid in a row on my Neoregelia 'Fireball' bromeliad, and wondered what they might be. Fortunately, they were simple to google and it turns out they are lacewing eggs! Lacewings are beneficial insects in their larval form and are pretty much neutral in their adult stage, so I'm very happy they want to reproduce in my space and protect my plants from aphids, mealybugs, and hopefully even scale. I've been fighting with mealybugs in several of my stapeliads and a couple other plants and scale on one of my haworthias - I think due in part to stress and lowered immunity from spending so long indoors thanks to the unusually cold April we had (the coldest in 20 years!), so this might be just the ticket to getting rid of the rest of the pests. The Neoregelia 'Fireball' spends the summer on my front porch, but when I went to my back porch I also saw a lone lacewing egg on an Adromischus (A. rupicola is my guess, but there are a number of similar species within Adromischus and my plant supplier didn't have this one labeled and is wrong on labels around 15% of the time anyway!). So that bodes well for lacewings frequenting both sides of my plant collection!
Some people even purchase bulk lacewing eggs (or adult lacewings with the goal of having them stick around to reproduce) as pest control, much like they do with ladybugs and other beneficial insects. This practice of purchasing insects for natural pest control is more complicated than it might seem, though, since it can negatively disrupt the local ecosystem, and often disregards seasonal timing needs for the purchased insects and the insects' preferred habitats. It's better if you can just encourage the beneficial insects already living in your area to feel welcome in your spaces.
This little friend turned up on my front porch a couple weeks ago, and it really put my camera to the test because when I call it little I mean tiny! But look at the coloration on it - what a beautiful creature! Leucage venusta is an orb weaver, and given my Google Images research, mine is a youngin so it should grow larger with time. The fourth photo was taken one week after the first three photos and I think perceptible growth can be seen even in that time.
I'm exhibiting my series of botanical-garden-themed mixed media reliefs made on residency this summer at La Maison Verte in Marnay-sur-Seine, France, as well as the first three paintings in my ongoing puffin series inspired by my 2014 Icelandic residency in the University of Saint Mary's Goppert Gallery! My work is in its own distinct space, but the Gallery has a number of rooms to it and is also simultaneously exhibiting student artwork from this past semester as well as our graduating senior Brandon Handy's senior thesis exhibition, "Nature from Afar and Close-Up." The gallery is free and open to the public, with exhibition dates and times as follows:
December 9-15, 2016, 10am-4pm with an opening reception today from 3-5pm - complimentary refreshments will be served.
If you'd like to join us, Goppert Gallery is on the ground floor of Xavier Hall on the University of Saint Mary's main campus found at 4100 S. 4th Street in Leavenworth, KS. Here's the full press release if you're interested, though since we sent it out we've changed a few details so this post has the most current information.
I'll upload some photos shortly!
Hey, hey, I finally got to see another beneficial insect on my porch right before hauling my plants in for the winter! This time, it was Arilus cristatus, the wheel bug. As their ridged back portends, they are a type of assassin bug which in both its larval and adult stages preys upon aphids, caterpillars, and beetles - including my very common fall pest, the stink bug. If manhandled, they can bite painfully but they are not aggressive and this fellow somewhat unwillingly posed for me for several minutes before flying off when I got the camera lens just a little too close. As I was planning on bringing in my plants later that afternoon, I was OK with having scared it away temporarily; I don't think it'd be able to survive overwintering in my house. Hopefully it'll return, though, to guard my sempervivum and sedum which spend the winter outdoors.
I recently participated in a art sale on November 11-12 in downtown Leavenworth's First City Photo & Frames. I had a stand at this artist-run event last year as well, but this year I had even more of a selection available for sale. The greeting cards were particularly popular! I have plans to expand my reproduction sales to my website, so stay tuned...
While most of the insects I observe in and around my plants are pests, they nonetheless possess a wide range of forms and colors that are always interesting to me. Here are three of the latest visitors - a spotted cucumber beetle, a white planthopper, and a caterpillar who appears to be ready to turn into a chrysalis after having nommed on my Uncarina roeoesliana. Speaking of plant visitors and pests, I will shortly be hauling all of my houseplants inside; this migration every fall always includes the accidental transfer of a couple spiders and tens of stink bugs. I've already transported one stink bug inside when I brought a couple plants in for a particularly cold evening...
It's been pretty rainy lately, so the frogs and toads are a bit more visible! I watched a frog quickly hop into a storage shed at USM recently, but this little common toad was slightly more obliging in posing for a portrait when he visited my porch one evening.
I like to walk to the local farmer's market, and on the way there's this yard that has some interesting fungi. I took some photos!
Speaking of houseplants, since most of mine summer outdoors they get frequented by a lot of insect life. Many are non-descript, most are difficult to photograph, but occasionally I manage to digitally capture a few! These two aren't ones gardeners particularly want to see, but hey. They were there, I was there, my camera was there. Behold the green june beetle, Cotinis nitida, and the Japanese beetle, Popillia japonica.
On Cherokee Street between Broadway and 7th Street (though basically on the corner of Cherokee and 7th) in downtown Leavenworth, KS, are three connected shops that sell my original artwork and reproductions: Lavender Moon, Rusty Elegants, and Meriwether's. In addition to my pieces and depending on which store you're in, you can also buy new vintage-inspired clothing and jewelry, other artists' work, and antiques, as well as order coffee, breakfast, brunch, lunch, or an early dinner while surrounded by a casual gallery setting.
All three shops are still relatively new - Meriwether's is the newest - and are part of the exciting revitalization of downtown Leavenworth that's been progressing since I moved here a little less than three years ago. If you're in the area, you should stop by!
Lorraine is an adult female Neoscona crucifera spider who has made a number of webs on my front porch this fall. I had noticed her presence a few times in the evenings as she hunted around the outside of my living room window, but we really made each other's acquaintance when she tested out a new web location a few days ago strung up between a potted plant and my front storm door; after I damaged it going out of my door in the morning and then again a second time coming back in later that evening, she took stock of her options and has since restrung her web off my porch railing and my hanging sweet potato vine. I'm interested to see if I'll be able to spot Lorraine's egg sac if/when she lays it since I'm looking forward to trying to witness her offspring hatch next spring.
I've been walking around more than usual lately due to the beautiful fall weather, and I happened across this gorgeous Polygonia comma basking on some dead grass on the edge of my neighbor's lawn. Leavenworth is in the western part of their habitat, which covers most of central to eastern United States. Its coloration seems very seasonally appropriate.
A new hybrid store has opened up in downtown Leavenworth, KS - it's a composite vintage-inspired clothing retailer and antiques shop that also has a section devoted to gallery space and home decor. The clothing part is called Lavender Moon, and the rest of the business is run under the name Rusty Elegants. They will be selling my artwork and reproductions of my artwork (currently greeting cards and postcards but likely prints and other reproductions), so if you happen to be in Leavenworth you should stop by!
The address is 700 Cherokee Street, Leavenworth, KS 66048. Store hours are as follows:
Mon-Thurs: 9:30 am-6:00 pm
Fri: 9:30 am-8:00 pm (Sangria and snacks are provided on Friday evenings)
Sat: 6:00 am - 8:00 pm (during Farmer's Market season, otherwise 9:30 am-8:00 pm)
Sun: 12:00 pm-4:00 pm