Late summer is a feast of beautiful Wildflowers and Insects of Hot Springs National Park.
The Wildflowers at the base of North Mountain are spectacular and new varieties appear every few days. Today’s discovery was Pennsylvania Smartweed, I wish I had taken better photographs. It was not until I started editing at home that I realize what looked like pink wheat were tiny pink hairy blossoms in an elongated cluster. Beautiful yet to be identified tiny pale pink flower clusters atop a tall thin stem and elongated clusters with tiny purplish lavender flowers rising from large leaf plants. Another surprise, I did not know Hot Springs National Park had Wild Poinsettias. As few paces up the Floral Trail onto North Mountain reveals lovely Yellow False Foxglove.
The Goat Rock Trail was a Lizard nursery with babies running along the sides of the trails and occasionally allowing us to see them. They are tiny Prairie Lizards only about 3 inches long including their tails and are nearly invisible as they scramble across the dried leaves. One peeks at me from the side of a tree with it’s tail arched, a gesture I had not witnessed until today. Wildflowers are sparse along the Goat Rock Trail and I am surprised to see False Garlic and Oxalis, usually blooms associated with Spring. A gorgeous Red Spotted Purple Butterfly is perched on a leaf in the bright morning sun. It is the one of the first times I could see the purple hue leading into the darkness of it’s wings.
On the hike down North Mountain I spotted my first Hairy Small-Leaf Tick-Trefoil. They are lovely tiny orchid shaped deep purplish pink blooms with bright green eye details. The contrasting colors are spectacular. Hoary Mountain Mint Flower clusters were alive with insect activity including Wasps and Butterflies. I did not realize there were so many different types of Wasps in the Park. I saw an Orange Antennae Black Spider Wasp, a Great Black Wasp and 2 unidentified species with yellow on black and white on black.
Further down the mountain a young Prairie Racerunner Lizard flashes it’s stripes. The markings are striking going from bright yellow on brown stripe to bluish green hindquarters and tail. When a predator grabs Prairie Racerunner’s tail it falls off and they grow a new one.
Surprises abound no matter how many times I trail the same trails…
Have a Glorious Day on the Trails!