Woodland Skippers and Pigeon Horntails

Hello there! Just like that, we are in the closing weeks of summer, soon to be entering prime planting season, which is always an exciting time of year!
Woodland skipper (Ochlodes sylvanoides)

 Looking around the garden, I see a landscape now full of browns and yellows, so I almost didn't notice this little woodland skipper resting on the dried seed head of native yellow monkeyflower (Erythranthe guttata).  Adults feed on late-season blooms July through October, while their larvae host on certain grassland plants like blue wild rye (Elymus glaucus).  I think they are the sweetest little butterflies!

Woodland skipper resting on leaf of Willamette Valley gumweed.

Later the same afternoon, I caught a glimpse of a native female pigeon horntail wasp (Tremex columba).  These pigeon horntail wasps are one of the largest of North America. 

Pigeon horntails have a long ovopositor, which females use to drill down into vulnerable wood, such as nurse logs, depositing its eggs into the bark of vulnerable wood, where the larvae will eventually feed on the fungi that enters from the small hole.  I often find them this time of year on nurse logs around our property.

Ovopositor of female pigeon horntail.

As you meander through your own gardens, keep your eyes open for species you may be unfamiliar with and try to identify them through apps like iNaturalist, which can also pin your sighting, which helps in ongoing research.  Planting native species and using features like nurse logs within your plantings will help wildlife such as the two species highlighted here as they need the habitat with which they co-evolved to survive and continue their reproductive cycles.  Healthy ecosystems are the foundation of a healthier world for all living things.