“Others may see them as a weed, but a butterfly and a bee may tend to disagree.”
What exactly is a weed?
A weed is a plant considered undesirable in a particular situation, “a plant in the wrong place.” Examples of these plants are in human-controlled settings, such as farm fields, gardens, lawns, and parks. Weed – Wikipedia
There is much, much more that goes into a ‘weed’ story. Even if some plants may be considered a weed, they often provide an ecological value.
As spring is upon us, more creatures, great and small, welcome the season with open wings, and many nature explorers and photographers look forward to this time of year. It’s like a fresh new environment, spring colors are vibrant, and animals and insects appear more frequently.
You can see a fluctuation of wildflowers showcasing their arrival along the roadsides and trails, from Blue-eyed grass, Skyblue Lupine, Blue Toadflax, Whitetop Sedge, Florida Greeneyes, and many, many more.
But how I would like you to take this post differently, if you will, like from a smaller perspective. Weeds (plants) in the wild are incredibly beneficial for many pollinators, especially for the tiniest pollinators. Some of these insects are smaller than an inch!
Oakland fleabane and Frogfruit are perfect flowering weeds (plants) from which smaller insects gather nectar. Those insects also play an essential role in the plants’ ability to reproduce—the right sized plant for the right size insect.
Have you ever just taken a walk and noticed a small cluster of flowering weeds (plants)? Have you ever noticed how many different species of insects visit those flowers? Have you seen how small they are?
Below is a list of the insects and spiders that I have photographed on Frogfruits, Oakleaf fleabanes, and Romerillos-aka Spanish Needles. Even though these may be considered weeds to many gardeners and landscapers, again these are very important for many insect species.
Butterflies & Moths
- Hairstreaks & Elfins
- Skippers & Satyrs
- Grass Yellows
Bees & Flies
- Sweat Bees
- Scaly Bee Flies
- Calligrapher Flies
- Poey’s Furrow Bee
- Metallic Sweat Bees
Beetles and Spiders
- Yellow-marked Buprestid Beetles
- Crab Spiders
Weed Appreciation Day – March 28
How can nature photographers celebrate Weed Appreciation Day?
On March 28, take another look at those flowering weeds (plants). When you’re out and about taking photos, one suggestion is to stay awhile when you see a small cluster of wildflowers bordering a trail. Allow yourself some quality time looking at the little things in nature. See how many bees and butterflies and even flies visit those flowers. You just might see something you have never seen before!
There are three tips that I would like to share if you do venture into the smaller realm of nature. One would be a macro lens, two have extreme patience, and three BEE careful.
- A good distance macro like a 100mm lens would be ideal for this, especially for us older folks. Let’s face it, we are getting older, and our eyesight and back and a multitude of joints are not as flexible and cooperative as they used to be. <Tip, bring a small, portable, lightweight folding chair.>
- Oh, those that lack patience, including myself, this may be a start to learn how to relax as well as getting your fill of ‘nature-photo therapy.’ Even if it’s just 5 or 15 minutes, you did it! There can be a lot of little pollinators that visit during that time.
- As with any venture into nature, always being careful, mindful, and aware of your surroundings is very important. Be careful how close you get to those flowers, and be careful where you kneel. It was a learning lesson for me when I knelt and placed my hand on the ground get a macro shot of a flower, and happened to look down at the right moment. I noticed a scorpion crawling inches from my hand. Many smaller creatures crawl, slither, sting, bite and jump from ground level, so look before you kneel.
Have fun and be safe!