August is the month for butterflies, and the flowering plants in Shawnee can still be pretty diverse as well. Several people at the Appalachian Butterfly Conference suggested a summer Flora-Quest just to get a better chance to study the seasonal flora.
This photo combines the best of a couple of my favorites. Downy Skullcap, Scutellaria incana - or called Hoary Skullcap by the USDA data base is a close relative to the Mad-dog Skullcap we enjoy in the Mohican woods. Downy Skullcap was prolific along the dry road bed of Shawnee, and a worthy subject for photographs and study.
One afternoon, we found a bumblebee forcing his head into the tight corollas until he really looked like wore a tiny skullcap on his head. It was a worthy subject, but a doggone difficult deed to catch in photo, due to the vibrations of the bumbler at work.
All weekend I watched to see if butterflies utilized these roadside flowers, and it was not until late Sunday when I found this male Zabulon Skipper working his proboscis deep down into the flower. Zabs are unique skippers, as the males and females are highly dimorphic, with the males being much lighter. Male Zabs are known to be quite pugnacious, often chasing rivals out of their territory. Considered uncommon to occasional by Jaret Daniels in his Butterflies of Ohio book, this photo was a double delight for me. Leave it to a Skipper with an attitude to attempt to tackle the pollination of this blue beauty with the heavy hood.