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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Horseshoes, foxgloves, and tigers!

Just a few more photos from our last day on Cape Cod.

A view looking along the outer beach on South Beach in Chatham, MA.

The inside of South Beach is much more wave-protected. There we encountered lots of juvenile Atlantic Horseshoe Crabs (Limulus polyphemus) creating trails on the surface of the sandflats.

A kettle pond on the Outer Cape.

Some of the plants along the shorelines of these coastal plain ponds are adapted to fluctuating water levels (similar to vernal pools).  One of these is Purple Gerardia or Purple False Foxglove (Agalinis purpurea, formerly Gerardia purpurea).

We also spotted a few tiger beetles in warm, sunny spots along the sandy edges of the pond.  Below is a photo of a Bronzed Tiger Beetle (Cicindela repanda).

Note the large eyes and very long legs.  Tiger beetles are active predators, running after prey such as ants and flies.

Earlier in the day we found a different species, a Margined Tiger Beetle (Cicindela marginata) near a salt marsh in Wellfleet.

The sickle-shaped and serrated mandibles of tiger beetles are a little frightening when seen up close (next photo), but they're generally not strong enough to hurt people.

Here's a Western Tiger Beetle (Cicindela oregona) photographed in the Bodega Dunes in April 2006.

The maculations (markings) on the wing covers are important for identifying tiger beetles.  If you see one, pay close attention to the sizes and shapes of the stripes and spots.

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