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Nature Notebook – Coneflower

A coneflower plant was the place to be for arthropods. Different species of butterflies took turns probing for nectar.

Aphids were also feasting on the plant (BOO!). One aphid made the mistake of venturing off the stem onto a leaf. The spider, whose web was disturbed by the “footstep” of the aphid, in a flash struck at the aphid. The aphid moved away quickly but the spider had already envenomated it and was busily throwing more web lines on it (YAY FOR THE SPIDER!)

On another leaf, a Daddy-long-legs (more precisely, a harvestman) was in the process of devouring a small moth it had caught. The moth was held in the vise-like grip of the front pinchers while the harvestman munched away on the moth’s body. Apparently the wings are not part of the diet as they were discarded.

A second harvestman occupied yet another leaf while grooming itself. The action is called “leg threading.” The harvestman slides each leg through its mouth to remove any parasites that attached themselves to the leg. The legs are essential for walking, eating, smell, and breathing so careful grooming is very important.