Posts Tagged 'butterflies'

Butterflies

At Berkeley, the Harrison’s plantation on the James River, we thought we had an Monarch among the ghosts of Declaration of Independence signers and presidents.But looking closer, we discovered the famous Monarch mimic, the Viceroy (Limenitis archippus). The black band across the hindwings is the tell. And the diminutive size compared to the big orange royals.Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus). These do not get this far north. Pawpaw is major larval food plant for these.This is the spring form.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucous).There is a dark, intermediate form of females of this species as well as a yellow. Here’s the dark.

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Pupa Knows Best

Revisiting this pupa of what I think is an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail in better light and because I find it fascinating. If you look closely, you can see breathing holes on the segments. And the support filament that secures the lower end (or right third in the horizontal view) of the structure to the rock. This filament actually goes around the body like a string belt so that it is attached to the rock on both sides. (So different from this Monarch chrysalis.)

(Anniversary bonus: a Red-spotted Purple, uncommon around here.)

I stumbled upon this extraordinary reminder that the winter landscape, so seemingly barren, is one of tremendous potential. It’s stuffed with larvae and eggs. And buds, leaves, flowers, seeds and bulbs. We don’t see much of it, but it’s all waiting for the heat and the long days. So much life on the cusp.

So many hazards, too.
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A tanka I wrote for a friend:

The skunk cabbages
Are burning to live right now,
Hot spathes in the snow

While timberdoodles stay warm
Like other early spring hearts.

Twiggy

I saw this and the shape and size instantly put me in mind of a pupa. Then I had doubts. It is so incredibly twig-like! Yet the concentric rings, the firm binding at the top to the stone, and the secondary binding on the side, just a thin, flexible thread, were all there to convince me. Some searching on the internet revealed that it was probably a Tiger Swallowtail chrysalis. I submitted the pics to bugguide.net & iNaturalist for confirmation, but both have been non-committal as to species level.

I’ve never seen one of these pupa before. And, if I’m right on the butterfly, this an animal that is hard to miss in its adult stage. The big yellow and black butterfly is one of our largest and most prominent.

Some pictures of the imago or adult flying stage.

More pictures of this very photogenic creature.

Here is the last stage of the larval form.

Now all I need are the early (bird-dropping) and middle (lime green) stages for a complete set!

Nature is a calling that never runs out. Sure, there’s repetition and seasonal cycling, with variations of course. Yet I’m constantly delighted by new discoveries.

Late Skipper

November 7th was a warm day. This skipper could smell the buddleia as well as I could, probably better.The double-barreled tongue can be seen here relatively well.

Last Insects?

It’s definitely autumn. Yet there are lingerers in the freakish-now-normal mildness. On Wednesday, for instance, I was quite surprised to see a Monarch Butterfly vibrating by on my lunchtime walk in Green-Wood. At first I thought it was a leaf, as one would this time of year. Further exploration also turned up a skipper in a still-blooming patch of buddleia. There were also a half dozen bumblebees, a few honeybees, and a fly or two. In addition, there were a couple of Green Darner Dragonflies. Oh, and nearby, a bat in the air! There were, however, many fewer birds than there were on Sunday, the last time I was there. I photographed this madcap Japanese maple on Sunday. While doing so, I saw some movement under its branches. Another late butterfly!It came out for the sun. A Red Admiral. An adult like this, presuming it made it past the gauntlet of Phoebes, will hibernate through the winter. The northern reaches of this species’ territory are too cold, however (still?), so they head south. Could this one be going further south or will it try to over winter here?

Skipper

Tongue-of-a-skipper — my new all-purpose exclamation — but some of the Hesperiidae family of critters are hard to identify. The ones that perch with wings half-cocked, looking like jet fighters, are the folded-wing type in the Hesperiinae subfamily, the grass skippers.

Wings are more moth-like than butterfly-like; antennae are generally hooked. They just don’t really want to be in either camp. Here, by the way, the tongue is curled up and out of the way.

Statue of Butterflies

Under each wingpit, a chrysalis. At the tips of the wings, emptied husks of chrysalises. On the left wing, a chrysalis and brand new Monarch. Harder to see, but way down below the drape of rocky dress, another ripening chrysalis. Pictures from Saturday. Yesterday, I counted two butterflies and half a dozen chrysalises in process in this patch; the nearby feeding station of Buddleia, butterfly bush, had four more adults on it.This one looks like it was gotten to by something.It is that time of year when a walker on the numbered avenues of Brooklyn sees Monarchs fluttering overhead, at cornice height, heading south-westerly.The flight looks so weak, I almost feel like I can catch up. Almost.


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