Summer is in full swing, and nature has many ways of telling us. The floppy-petalled, cut-leaf coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata) is one of my favorites, if only because it heralds mid-summer. It can be found blooming in our canyons, never far from a stream.
When you take a close look at its bloom, you may see the gentle, bee-like tachinid flies hovering above the flowers. They are harmless, quite busy, and very rewarding to watch. Notice how amazingly spiny they are! Fritillary and skipper butterflies also frequent this plant. Thus, the constant buzz of activity is as much fun as the flowers.