A pink moth in a yellow evening primrose blossom PHOTO COURTESY OF RUTH GRIERSON

Glorious moths

“RUN! NOW!” must have been what the Mother Mallard called to her medium sized duckling as she went across the road at high speed with her ducklings behind her doing the same. They all made it and cars went on by. It was a cute sight!

A friend in the Bar Harbor area sent me some beautiful photos he took the other evening of the beautiful pink moths that visit the plant called an evening primrose. The flower has bright yellow blossoms at twilight and at night, even though you may find a few flowers on a cloudy and overcast day. The blossoms last only one night with new buds appearing in the morning.

The yellow flower is very beautiful and night flying moths love it. When the flowers open, a strong fragrance is released into the air which attracts night flying moths. My friend went out to see and photograph this activity and was well rewarded with the photos he took.

The moths he saw were a beautiful pink and made a striking sight on the bright yellow flowers. Some moths were partially trapped since they had lingered too long as daylight came and the flowers closed. If you have evening primroses growing near you, take time to look at them closely. Seeing both the plant and the moths is worth any effort you make.

Blue and purple are my favorite colors and I especially like the purple-blue wild vetch blooming in fields all over the island. They are but part of the wild bouquet coming up in our fields and waste places. This vetch is a member of the pea family that was introduced from Europe and is now well established here. I often find it growing in with hawkweeds, daisies and buttercups. Both the seeds and foliage are eaten to a limited extent by rodents and birds. Vetches make excellent fodder and cows love the honey flavor of cow vetch.

Dry fields, colorful with blue cow vetch, resound with the music of happy bees. I wish this column had sound right here, for I’d play a great fiddle song about “happy bees!”

Although the parts of the flower do fit closely together, they stretch and open with the energetic bees’ weight and movement, so the bee enters for nectar. Sometimes a bee will bypass the whole process and bite a hole at the base of the flower to gain access to the nectar.

Look for the blue-lavender tubular flowers crowded together along the stem of this plant. It’s a graceful looking plant with its climbing and trailing stems.

I think one of the outstanding stories this year is about nesting birds in the artificial nest made to help nesting loons in Echo Lake and how successful it has been. Loons have a reputation of being loners and wanting quiet wilderness lakes in which to nest, no commotion, motor boats, etc.

As you may or may not know, loons cannot walk on land so their nests must be right at water level. If the level varies their nest is ruined. Boaters on ponds making waves also destroy nests.

In order to help the birds, small artificial floating platforms fitted out to look as natural as possible have been placed on local ponds. The platform at Echo Lake has been amazing. The birds moved in, accepted the rowdiness and confusion of nearby swimmer and raised two babies. They adapted to the conditions and were successful.

One side benefit of this particular situation was that the noise of humans swimming and having fun nearby intimidated the eagles and kept them from coming in to grab the young loons. Each year, eagles take a toll on these young birds on our lakes. The little family on Echo Lake very near the public beach was a treat to see and know about. If you want more details, speak to Billy Helprin at the Somes Meynell Sanctuary. Go on their website to see great photos of the loon project.

Send any questions photos or observations to [email protected] or call 244-3742.

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