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Colorful flyers of summer

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One thing about looking for a particular plant or animal along a trail or stream is you are likely to see everything but the target species. It’s kind of like looking for a lost set of keys and, instead, finding that screwdriver you’ve been missing for two weeks—or perhaps you find something rare or unusual. So it was when I went looking for reptiles and amphibians during the last couple of weeks.

During the last two weeks of surveying, I found a bear, a dozen deer, many species of birds and a fair abundance of ticks, deerflies and other small, biting insects. There was, however, a good showing of some beneficial insects. Bees and butterflies were plentiful, and there was a variety of flowering plants to pollenate. Dragonflies and damselflies were flying back and forth; whenever I saw one nearby, I thought to myself, “Well, that’s one less deer fly.”

The striking thing about some of the insects in flight is their bright array of colors. Butterflies and some moths stand out with brilliant shades of orange, red and yellow. Polyphemus moths were around, easy to spot with their large orange-brown trimmed wings and two huge spots on the hindwings. Dragonflies and damselflies run the gamut of colors, including some iridescent shades. Males and females of the same species can be different colors, making identification challenging.

There is no need to travel far to see nature’s study of color. Most gardens will attract a variety of butterflies and other pollinators, and ponds will attract multiple species of damsel and dragonflies. Even small streams will attract species such as the ebony jewelwing with its iridescent blue body.

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