I went for a walk as soon as the clouds cleared this afternoon. Judging from the forecast, spring has finally arrived and the plants at the Arboretum are starting to show it. The flower buds of red maples are ready to burst. Snowdrops are the only form of snow left in the area. And crocuses have joined the snowdrops in flower, two weeks later than last year.
Common butterbur (Petasites hybridus) has also finally emerged in the meadow area.
Witch-hazel has been blooming for many weeks now. The flowers have been through a wild swing in temperature, and continue to hold strong.
Those witch-hazel flowers had attracted a few flies and this European honey bee (Apis mellifera).
Walking through the maple collection, I saw a number of another type of bee, which
I believe is the cellophane bee is the mining bee Andrena frigida (thanks to John Ascher on bugguide for the ID). These bees were flying low to the ground and also up around the trunks of maple trees. They would land on the leaf litter or a trunk, only to be chased by another of its species.
Finally, back in the meadow area, I stumbled upon this orange-and-black picnic beetle with its puzzle-piece coating. This is a picnic beetle (Glischrochilus fasciatus), a type of sap-feeding beetle. According to the Iowa State University Extension, these beetles feed on fermenting plant juices, and are attracted to ripe, damaged, or cracked produce. This one must have hibernated through the winter to be out and about so early in the season.
Corrections: Thanks to Bob Mayer for pointing out that the inflorescence above is butterbur and not skunk cabbage. And to bugguide for correcting the ID on the mining bee from a cellophane bee.