Ozarks Sojourn

Ozark Glade in Meramec SP, Missouri

Life’s been a little crazy, so I haven’t been able to catch up on everything in the lep world that’s been going on.  Two weeks ago, I spent a couple of days back in my home state of Missouri reacquainting myself with some of the natural places that formed my early experiences as a naturalist.  Among the most intriguing to me, and most endangered, are the dolomite glades that dot the Ozarks.

In mid-June they’re in full bloom, and after getting some great tips from the naturalist at Meramec State Park I hiked back to some of the most beautiful glades I’ve ever seen.

Dogbane, common milkweed, and various early composites were in bloom, but the most spectacular of all is the glade coneflower — the Ozark’s native echinacea.  Strangely, considering how popular echinacea is with butterflies here in the East, nary a butterfly was working the glade coneflowers.  By contrast, every common milkweed in bloom had at least one pipevine swallowtail hanging off it, often two or three.

I had been hoping to find the newly described Ozark Swallowtail, which passed as a common black swallowtail until very recently.  Unfortunately, neither Ozark nor black swallowtails were flying, although great-spangled fritillaries were as abundant as the pipevine swallowtails.  Other butterflies in and around the glades — on an incredibly hot (mid-90s) and humid day — included coral hairstreak, hoary edge, wild indigo duskywing, common wood nymph, sleepy orange, buckeye, and little sulphur, among others.

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