A recent trip to a bog mat provided opportunities to see many unusual plants and creatures. Jewel-like Sphagnum Sprite damselflies were in tandem everywhere- and these little odonates are a real rarity anywhere else.
There were Roundleaf Sundews, Drosera rotundifolia- the carnivorous plants, hummocks of mosses and a moss expert along to identify each genius and species. This highly acidic environment, comprised of decaying peat, is the only place you find native cranberry and blueberry plants, as well as poison sumac. It is such a unique plant and animal community it nearly defies description, and so it is difficult to choose one photo to represent it.
This stunningly colored Smeared Daggermoth caterpillar, also known as a Smartweed caterpillar was found under the leaves of a Swamp Loosestrife, Decodon verticillatus.
Perhaps that Swamp Loosestrife (this is a "good" loosestrife- a native) is the most important pioneering plant in the bog. It lays down a framework of roots with aerenchyma tissue, having channels in spongy-like tissue that can siphon air down to the underwater roots, allowing it to form communities in the water, not unlike rice.
However, these strong root and stem systems criss-cross and create a form for other plants to utilize. The sphagnum mosses move in, and decaying matter from years of loosestrife and moss create a platform for the acidic loving bog plants. A quaking-bog mat is a trampoline-like surface created entirely of plants.
Bog are a fascinating place to visit, and a few have boardwalks to expedite access and reduce damage from foot-traffic. To learn more about these plant communities and the rare fauna they attract, visit Brown's Lake Bog in Wayne County.