Stick with me as I focus on the macro world a little longer, the Black Leaf Beetle (Diabrotica cristata) is not partial to Compass Plant flowers. It turns out that the prairie’s Big Bluestem grasses are food for larva; while adults prefer forbs (broadleaf herbaceous plant (ie. not a grass) such as the Compass Plant but also Blazing Star and non-native Queen Anne’s Lace.
What at first may creep out visitors, myself included, who take pride in a bug free home, the prairie Insects are very prolific to ensure their continued survival. This in turn helps to ensure the survival of their avian (primary) predators. I admit that I check myself more than twice before entering my home, so that I don’t introduce prolific breeding uninvited guests to my habitat. It is rare that I have to uninvited a tag-a-long, much to my continued surprise. I suppose they are wiser than I imagine in their choice of contact. Pollen however I do have to regularly remove from this asthmatic allergic body.
Evidence of who you are is found when life is uncovered to a state of simplicity. Toss off all the distractions, find yourself alone for a while and you have a better chance to understand your self, uninfluenced by the world and others. Spring is when evidence can best be found in the character of the prairie including its stronghold, the Big Bluestem(Andropogon gerardii).
Wandering through a mesic prairie’s eight foot tall growth was often overwhelming for European settlers new to the American wildernesses. The prairie jungle hides unseen treasures as well as dangers. My pulse still quickens when I remember my encounter with a coyote one morning as I weaved my way through the taller than life tangled Big Bluestem grasses. Two months earlier, in this same space, the largest aggressive animals I encountered were nesting pairs of geese. Fortunately the coyote seemed to be more afraid of me, fleeing quicker than I would have been able. I can understand why some pioneers were eager to tame these wilds. I wonder if they realized the richness of the soil only after clearing prairie land in efforts to control this newly encountered rough country. They would have been able to get-to-know the prairie best when it was barest, either in the spring or by manual labor.
These images show the clear nature of Big Bluestem which grow in clumps. Being the dominant species of the dry, mesic prairie this characteristic is undetectable during other times of year when prolific growth complicates the scene and so confuses understanding. A prairie burn, begun from lightning strikes or human interaction, brings to evidence the durability of this hardy species. Like all native prairie species the Big Bluestem’s roots are equal to their above-ground growth height. Eight foot tall Big Bluestem does hide roots of equal length assuring continued life when the prairie has been turned to ash.