Forage Friday #90 Golden Alexander

Hello Friends! Tonight’s Feature Image is titled “Golden Alexander 50320a” and is available for purchase by clicking the thumbnail and reaching out to me on the contact page.

Please remember that Forage Friday is presented as trivia and not to be mistaken for medical advice. A little extra caution is to be observed when foraging members of the carrot family. There are poisonous plants like hemlock that are often found growing in the same area.

At the time of writing this article in mid January 2021 my world is covered in ice. But when I do venture out into the frost coated wilderness I can already see the earth showing signs of preparing to receive the coming changes. The throw of the frost is making ready for the tiny seeds to be in just the right place so they may be awakened by the warm Spring rains.

Last year I was out on the edge of my property and was blessed with the sight of Golden Alexander poking up from the hillside.

One could think of Golden Alexander as sort of a wild broccoli. To the best of my knowledge it’s not actually related to broccoli but it’s used the same way. If you don’t already know the part of broccoli that we eat is the flower buds. If you allow broccoli to go without harvesting it produces a pleasant yellow flower. The flower buds of Golden Alexander are harvested the same way and can be tossed in a salad along with the tender growing portions of the stem. They can also be cooked and served as potherb.

Medicinal value of Golden Alexander is a little scarce. It seems to have been used as an analgesic by Native Americans and they used the roots for that in the form of a poultice. The action of the root is anti-inflammatory however the root also contains xanthotoxin which can cause you to be sensitive to the sun.

As we transition into the colder portion of winter I’ll be posting more photos from my archive until more plants begin to sprout.

Good night friends and be blessed throughout your days.

Hey Friends! Just a quick reminder that Lloyds Lens Photography is available for portraits!

To book me simply reach out using the Contact Page and we’ll set a date. If you’re within a 50 mile radius of Summersville West Virginia all travel fees are waived.

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Witch-hazel and folklore

Hello Friends! Tonight’s Feature Image is titled “Witch-Hazle 10521a” and is available for purchase by clicking the thumbnail and reaching out to me on the contact page.

The January sun burns cold in the open sky as the big blue truck takes me to my familiar haunt on Salmon Run Road. It’s so close to the highway but teaming will wildlife. In the distance a woodpecker laughs knowing that he’s once again escaped my lens. But just barely for I did manage to catch him distracted for a moment.

The woodpecker was so busy that he didn’t notice me until I got out of the truck.

But as soon as I opened the door of the truck he took to the wind and disappeared into the branches.

Even though it’s January the bright yellow witch-hazle is still blooming strong. In fact I think that they’re in better shape now than they were a few weeks ago.

As I approach the tiny clusters of frilly golden bloom I noticed the forked branches. Now a normal person might look at those forks and think of a slingshot. But I think about dowsing rods. In the 90s I had the opportunity to attend a gathering of the American Dowsing Association where I learned that witch-hazel was one of the preferred woods used for finding water, oil and minerals. There is a trick to how to hold the stick. You point the stick to ground and hold it by the fork with your thumbs pointing to the sky. Rotate the wrists inward until the tip of the stick comes up to a 45 degree angle to the sky and when you’re over the target the stick twists in your hands to point out the water just like a compass pointing north. It’s not just an Appalachian tradition. Variations of this is used worldwide. But does it work? Well I was skeptical but as soon I was over the target that stick twisted. I tightened my grip in an effort to stop the rod. But it just kept turning downward. I was convinced. But sometime later I realized that we never actually drilled to see if the stick was right. While I’m open to the possibility that there could be some trick of physics that just hasn’t been explained yet it’s going to remain a mystery. Life needs a little unknown element to remain interesting.

Good night friends and be blessed throughout your days.

Hey Friends! Just a quick reminder that Lloyds Lens Photography is available for portraits!

To book me simply reach out using the Contact Page and we’ll set a date. If you’re within a 50 mile radius of Summersville West Virginia all travel fees are waived.

If you would like to Follow me on Facebook the web address is

https://www.facebook.com/aviewfromthelens/

If you’re enjoying my blog and don’t want to miss a post then you can sign up for email alerts on my website.

https://lloydslensphotographyllc.com/

Have you checked out the Zazzle Store?

I’m now using Zazzle to fulfil orders. What this means for you is a secure way to place an order, discount codes & a broader product selection! Simplymessage me on Facebookoruse the contact form on my websiteand tell me which image you want and I’ll reply with a direct link to where you can place the order.

Clicking on the photo takes you tohttps://www.zazzle.com/lloydslensphotos?rf=238248269630914251

Lastly, all of the photos and writings are my original work unless otherwise specified and are not to be copied or reproduced without expressed written permission from the photographer

Thank you again for your support of my page!

October’s Smile

Hello Friends! Tonight’s Feature Image is titled “October’s Smile 100620” and is available for purchase by clicking the thumbnail and reaching out to me on the contact page.

The cool October breeze flows across the spillway at Battle Run. Illuminated by the sun, the airborn seed of wild lettuce, cattails and milkweed pass through resembling stars in broad daylight. I close my eyes and listen to breeze as it whispers stories of the landscape it touches. Across the field near the pine trees a pair of blue jays patrol their domain squawking a warning to those who wander too close to their sacred territory. The wind speaks of the horse that raced the front across the open pasture and nearly won the race. Then the breeze invites me to follow along as it shakes the remanent wildflowers to strengthen their stems. As we approach the the thin patch of wildflowers the wind playfully tosses my cap into the field causing me to rush in after it. The hat came to rest at the base of a small cluster of Spanish Needles which I wouldn’t have noticed had the breeze not brought me there. After securing my favorite topper I knelt down for a closer look at God’s creation. The plant was a simple Spanish Needles bloom. What some might call a common weed. But God made nothing without a purpose. Even though we may not recognize the functions that any part of creation serves it’s not a wasted effort by God. Even if that purpose is to grow in a windy field and represent a smile from the creator himself it’s a noble purpose.

And tonight friends, let me pass this smile to you as well and pray that you are blessed throughout your days.

Hey Friends! Just a quick reminder that Lloyds Lens Photography is available for portraits!

To book me simply reach out using the Contact Page and we’ll set a date. If you’re within a 50 mile radius of Summersville West Virginia all travel fees are waived.

If you would like to Follow me on Facebook the web address is

https://www.facebook.com/aviewfromthelens/

If you’re enjoying my blog and don’t want to miss a post then you can sign up for email alerts on my website.

https://lloydslensphotographyllc.com/

Have you checked out the Zazzle Store?

I’m now using Zazzle to fulfil orders. What this means for you is a secure way to place an order, discount codes & a broader product selection! Simplymessage me on Facebookoruse the contact form on my websiteand tell me which image you want and I’ll reply with a direct link to where you can place the order.

Clicking on the photo takes you tohttps://www.zazzle.com/lloydslensphotos?rf=238248269630914251

Lastly, all of the photos and writings are my original work unless otherwise specified and are not to be copied or reproduced without expressed written permission from the photographer

Thank you again for your support of my page!

The Blue Winged Wasp

Hello Friends! Tonight’s Feature Image is titled “Blue Winged Wasp 90820a” and is available for purchase by clicking the thumbnail and reaching out to me on the contact page.

Our Friend Cindy asked me for help identifying a wasp that she spotted. What she described is a Blue Winged Wasp.

The late summer sun casts its glow across the open field illuminating the insects that buzz about a few inches above the grass. They seem to ignore me as I wade through them although several nearly collide with my bare legs. They’re definitely wasps and at first glance they look like yellow jackets swarming but they made no aggressive movements so I persisted until I spotted one at eye level. This wasp feeds on pollen and nectar which means it’s not a yellow jacket or hornet of any kind. It’s docile behavior gave me confidence to move in for a closer look however I cautious about crowding it. The body is black and the wings are iridescent blue like a mud dauber but it’s abdomen is orange with two large yellow spots. This is a “Digger Wasp” which is also known as a Blue Winged Wasp or sometimes Blue Winged Digger. The scientific name is Scotia dubia. This gentle wasp is actually a friend of gardeners.

It gets the name Digger Wasp because when it’s not feeding on pollen and nectar it’s hunting grubs in the lawn or garden. It specifically targets scarab beetles like June bugs and Japanese Beetles. Somehow it’s able to detect them underground well enough to distinguish scarab beete grubs from the hundreds of other grubs the feed on the tender roots of our lawns and vegetables. The online community was was sparse on the finer points of how this is accomplished but I suspect that those heavy club like antenna are the secret. Insects use their antenna to smell with. If you look closely at moths and butterflies you’ll notice that their antenna are either feathered or club shaped. In most butterflies the antenna end in bulbs. These bulbs are clusters of olfactory nerves that can sense oders over great distance. In the Blue Winged Wasp we see that the antenna are thick the entire length. I wasn’t really able to confirm it but it stands to reason that the antenna are thick because they contain a lot of these nerve clusters. I suspect that they know where the beetle larvae is by smelling them below ground. Once they have their target they will tunnel right down to the grubs and paralyze them with a sting. Sometimes they they lay a single egg right there where they captured the grub but other times they’ll bury it to hide it while they dig a better hole to place it in and then lay the egg after the grub has been moved. The grubs are not dead. They’re only paralyzed and when the egg hatches the wasp larvae eats the grub. A Blue Winged Wasp larvae will then spin an underground cocoon and transform into an adult Blue Winged Wasp.

The Blue Winged Digger Wasp is a solitary wasp. They are found in clusters but only if there’s sufficient scarab beetles to host the eggs. In 2016 a wet Spring led to an increase of Scarab Beetles and then a wave of these predators which is still going strong today in some areas.

There is an interesting tidbit about this wasp’s relationship with certain orchids. Some orchids have adapted to mimic the female in this family of wasps. The male becomes confused and mates with the orchids and by doing so pollenates the orchids.

White any wasp will become aggressive if you step on them or try to catch them the Blue Winged Digger Wasp is not generally considered a problem. When they are not controlling the scarab beetles they are likely pollinating orchids as mentioned before or the females are visiting one of the other wildflowers such as Goldenrod or wingstem.

Image Titled “Blue Winged Wasp 90820b” and is available for purchase by clicking the thumbnail and reaching out to me on the contact page.

Overall, every state extension office between the Eastern Shoreline and the Rocky Mountains listed the Blue Winged Digger Wasp as a beneficial insect so if you have them around they’re only there to help.

That’s it for tonight friends and be blessed throughout your days.

Hey Friends! Just a quick reminder that Lloyds Lens Photography is available for portraits!

To book me simply reach out using the Contact Page and we’ll set a date. If you’re within a 50 mile radius of Summersville West Virginia all travel fees are waived.

If you would like to Follow me on Facebook the web address is

https://www.facebook.com/aviewfromthelens/

If you’re enjoying my blog and don’t want to miss a post then you can sign up for email alerts on my website.

https://lloydslensphotographyllc.com/

Have you checked out the Zazzle Store?

I’m now using Zazzle to fulfil orders. What this means for you is a secure way to place an order, discount codes & a broader product selection! Simplymessage me on Facebookoruse the contact form on my websiteand tell me which image you want and I’ll reply with a direct link to where you can place the order.

Clicking on the photo takes you tohttps://www.zazzle.com/lloydslensphotos?rf=238248269630914251

Lastly, all of the photos and writings are my original work unless otherwise specified and are not to be copied or reproduced without expressed written permission from the photographer

Thank you again for your support of my page!

The Potter Is My Neighbor

Hello Friends! Tonight’s Feature Image is titled “Potter Wasp And Goldenrod 92620a” and is available for purchase by clicking the thumbnail and reaching out to me on the contact page.

My big blue truck pulls into my driveway and I step out to check the mailbox. As I tuned to walk back to the truck I noticed the tell tale signs of wildflowers bobbing up and down when the wind is still. I have allowed nature to have it’s way on the banks of the creek in front of my as a form of erosion control and was blessed with a stand of Goldenrod. Goldenrod is a valuable late season resource for pollinators so it makes me happy to see the bright yellow spray of flowers in the fall. Especially when the bees are working on them. I put the mail in the truck and stepped around with my camera to see what kinds of bees and how many were enjoying the pollen and nectar that the flowers provide. There were a few honeybees but mostly I found native bumblebees and wasps. Typically I have a huge number of Paper Wasps. The brown kind that builds umbrella shaped nests on the eaves of my house. But one of wasps was different. It had blue iridescent wings and a black body with white spots. At first I thought it was a European Paper Wasp but when I did the research it turned out to be a Potter Wasp. This was is a native of the Eastern woodlands but it’s not one that I have seen often or if I did I just assumed it was something else. But now that I’m doing a lot of writing about the Appalachian Wildlife I’m more motivated to get the deeper details.

The Potter Wasp like many of the native bees and wasps seems to be solitary and like the name implies buids it’s nest from mud instead of paper. I’m used to seeing the long tunnel like nests of the Pipe Oregon Mud Dauber which are found on the houses and rocky out croppings of my mountain. But the Potter Wasp nest is much different. It’s actually vase shaped with a wide base and a narrow neck that flares out at the opening. The Potter Wasp will then paralyze a caterpillar and place it in the pot with a single egg. But while she feeds her young meat she herself feeds exclusively on pollen and nectar. And something about Goldenrod seems to really attract wasps in general. It’s not uncommon for me to find as many wasps feeding on the Goldenrod as I do true bees.

A paper wasp feeds on the Goldenrod next to the Potter Wasp

I am hoping to spot and photograph the unique nests of the Potter Wasp soon. I suspect that they are tucked away safely on some of rocks that surround my property and I’ll do a follow-up post when I see them but for now I just know that they’re in the area somewhere enjoying the late season bloom and pollinating my wildflowers.

Image Titled “Potter Wasp And Goldenrod 92620b” and is available for purchase by clicking the thumbnail and reaching out to me on the contact page.

Hey Friends! Just a quick reminder that Lloyds Lens Photography is available for portraits!

To book me simply reach out using the Contact Page and we’ll set a date. If you’re within a 50 mile radius of Summersville West Virginia all travel fees are waived.

If you would like to Follow me on Facebook the web address is

https://www.facebook.com/aviewfromthelens/

If you’re enjoying my blog and don’t want to miss a post then you can sign up for email alerts on my website.

https://lloydslensphotographyllc.com/

Have you checked out the Zazzle Store?

I’m now using Zazzle to fulfil orders. What this means for you is a secure way to place an order, discount codes & a broader product selection! Simplymessage me on Facebookoruse the contact form on my websiteand tell me which image you want and I’ll reply with a direct link to where you can place the order.

Clicking on the photo takes you tohttps://www.zazzle.com/lloydslensphotos?rf=238248269630914251

Lastly, all of the photos and writings are my original work unless otherwise specified and are not to be copied or reproduced without expressed written permission from the photographer

Thank you again for your support of my page!