An Afternoon sans Snakes

In town the other day with time to spare I climbed up Snake Hill. Once home to several garter snake dens, the hill hosts few if any snakes now but perhaps on such a warm day I might find some.

I visited the spot where I found the gorgeous clematis early in June. Now the seeds heads are unfurling, like mop-haired cartoon characters, the feathery plumes just beginning to show.

Blue clematis seed head

Blue clematis

Next I set off on one of the trails that crisscross the hill to see what I might see. On my climb I found a couple of cow parsnips. On the pungent white flowers insect sex was, so to speak, in full bloom.

Yellow velvet beetles

The participants were yellow velvet beetles aka flower longhorns. A new beetle to me. They were so busy making little beetles I couldn’t get a good photo of the pile on, but when the heat of the moment passed several quieted down enough to have their picture taken.

Yellow velvet beetle on cow parsnip

What I took to be pollen on this beetle turned out to be very fine yellow hairs. Its species name, chrysocoma, means gold-haired. Good choice.

Walking back to the main trail I spotted a grasshopper. Another find. Not an adult yet (no wings — just stubby bits that foreshadow what’s to come). Best guess? A two-striped grasshopper. The eyes are gorgeous, warm brown filled with tiny tan spots.

Two-striped grasshopper

Further along the trail another cow parsnip and another new beetle — a round-necked longhorn. Several of them of varying sizes were wandering around the flowers. No sex this time (but perhaps I came late to the party).

Round-necked longhorn beetle

The striking pattern, reminiscent of a sad face, made it easy to ID. In side view you can see the rounded, almost hump-like neck which gives it its name.

Round-necked longhorn beetle

The black and yellow colours, reminiscent of wasps, means it’s sometimes mistaken for a wasp. But no worry. The adults don’t sting or bite, preferring pollen and nectar.

I found no snakes on my rambles. Still, it was a lovely afternoon on the hill. Gotta do that more often. 🙂


Blue clematis   Clematis verticellaris var. columbiana
Cow parsnip   Heracleum lanatum
Round-necked longhorn   Clytus ruricola
Two-striped grasshopper   Melanoplus bivittatus
Yellow velvet beetle/Flower longhorn   Lepturobosca chrysocoma
(formerly Cosmosalia chrysocoma)

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4 thoughts on “An Afternoon sans Snakes

  1. I’m quite taken with the grasshopper. And it really does amaze me that the various species of clematis — so different in form and color — eventually all take on that feathery, plumey, appearance. The cow parsnip’s a new one for me. At first, I thought it was Queen Anne’s lace. And we have another, similar plant: a yarrow. Spring wildflowers are wonderful, but summer has its own treats to offer.

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    1. He (for I think the little pointy things at the end of abdomen mark him as such) is a beauty. When I blew up the eyes on the computer they were gorgeous. Cow parsnip is quite a large plant — the flower heads are about the size of a medium-sized plate or more. It can grow several feet tall. A member of the carrot family. We also have yarrow, but it’s much smaller — the flower heads are about 2 inches across — and seldom reach more than 1 to 1.5 feet. Summer treats indeed. Summer flowers are appearing much sooner than usual — some that I don’t usually see until mid-August are already blooming. Times are definitely changing.

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