Posts Tagged 'butterflies'

Black Swallowtail

Papilio polyxenes Papilio polyxenes

Dusky

IMG_7811A duskywing, perhaps Horace’s (Erynnis horatius), the other option being Juvenal’s (E. juvenalis). All very classical, no? The similar species overlap around here, with Juvenal’s the more northerly and Horace’s the more southerly.

Butterfly Meadow

LorettoThe glorious meadow at Mt. Loretto, a New York State “unique area” at the southern end of Staten Island. (Used to be a lot more like it, of course… SI’s development mirrors the post-war suburban destruction of unique areas.) It was abloom with butterflies recently. Here are a few of the species I saw: Phyciodes tharosPearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos).Cupido comyntasEastern Tailed Blue (Cupido comyntas), in an uncommon open-winged pose.Calycopis cecropsRed-banded Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops). A species I’ve never seen before. This is the northern edge of its range; it is more common in the deep south. The “hairs” off the tail wagged in the air like antennae, and the spot looks vaguely eye-like. It was hard to tell which end was which, probably the point. Cercyonis pegalaCommon Wood-Nymph (Cercyonis pegala) was another species I’m not familiar with. Cercyonis pegalaA nice surprise.

Other species: Spicebush Swallowtail, Red Admiral, Tiger Swallowtail, Silver-spotted Skipper (the most numerous), Cabbage White, Monarch (2x), one of the Ladies, and these damn confusing skippers:skipperskipper2skipper3skipper4Two different examples of the same species, I think.

I thought I had a pretty good day, even if I later found a list of the butterflies of Staten Island (Richmond Co.) that had 112 species on it. Sometimes you see the snow leopard, sometimes you don’t. One thing I did see when I pulled my eyes from the butterfly-graced, grasshopper-heaving meadow was a huge, dark bird flying so low and slow that I thought it must be a vulture. But it was a mature Bald Eagle, coasting towards Raritan Bay. A pair nest in the area.

Breaking: Monarch Sighted in Brooklyn

Danaus plexippusI saw my second Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) of the year today. This was my first in Brooklyn; in Brooklyn Bridge Park, feeding on Joe-Pye Weed (Spotted JPW, I believe, Eupatorium maculatum).

As you probably know, we have done quite a number on this spectacular species, through deforestation in Mexico, reducing its food crops further north in the U.S., and poisoning its habitat everywhere; such blows make them even more susceptible to external pressures, like severe weather, in particular the drought in Texas (“external” if you don’t count our carbon-dirty hands in disrupting traditional weather patterns through global warming).

Here are some graphs of the shocking declines and here’s an interview with a biologist whose entire professional career has been about them disappearing. There’s nothing personal, of course, in this drive to extinguish one more species; we’ve done it to the whole planet, and even ourselves.

Can you do anything to keep this remarkable animal, which has a multi-generational, continent-spanning migration, around for your grandchildren? You can plant milkweed, stop the wide-spread poisoning of the environment through herbicides and pesticides, and drive less.. say what? The field-to-field cropping of corn to meet the ethanol demand means that “weedy” edges have been plowed under. We must all change our lives.

Crawly

Papilio glaucusOne must really keep the eyes peeled and rolling in a fine frenzy. Look out! Down on the sidewalk, a little under 1.5″ long, easily mistaken for a turd or cigarillo butt. Papilio glaucusBut, actually, it’s the larva of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus), that gloriously large yellow and black butterfly. Early instars, or stages, of this caterpillar look like bird droppings (that old camouflage trick!); middle ones are vivid lime green, with the false eye spots; the last before pupation will look like this. Tuliptree, magnolia, and black cherry are among the food plants for this species; this was next to a Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera), which is an unusual street tree here. Like all caterpillars, it is a machine for eating, powering up for the biochemical alchemy of metamorphosis. Papilio glaucusShazam! I mean, shit into gold, the alchemical dream right here.

Flying Now

Vanessa carduiPainted Lady (Vanessa cardui). I’ve posted previously about separating these from the similar American Lady butterflies (Vanessa virginiensis); from this view, the four big wing spots mark the Painted; two big spots the American.Enallagma signatumOrange Bluet (Enallagma signatum) male. Small and slender, but striking when you see it: at Green-Wood’s Sylvan Water. Enallagma signatumAt the nearby Valley Water, the Orange Bluets were mating. Anax juniusCommon Green Darners (Anax junius) were also reproducing there. Here the male continues to hold the female as she deposits eggs. I have seen females of the species depositing eggs on her own, sans the grip.ThorybesNorthern Cloudywing (Thorybes pylades). Enallagama civileI wish there was a special place in hell for the people who just toss their butts any- and everywhere (take a look down street gratings some day). This Familiar Bluet (Enallagama civile) male seems to be less censorious. CercerisA couple of Cerceris genus wasps were hanging out on some rogue squash plants on the edge of the Long Meadow.Pholisora catullusCommon Sootywing (Pholisora catullus) hitting the light just right on pollinator-magnet Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis).

Silver-spotted Skipper

Epargyreus clarus1. The “silver spot” on the Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus) is on the other side of the wings and is more of a white splotch to the field observer. 2. “Rumba” is a variety of rose.


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