Posts Tagged 'butterflies'

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.

Death Comes for the Monarch

There are some ants on the remains of this Monarch larva. Waste not, want not. I’ve seen a couple caterpillars in this position, suspended in preparation for starting the pupa, who didn’t make it. The Spined Soldier Bugs (nymphs and adults) are one enemy, but I wonder what other creatures or diseases strike these plump cats down. Remember, milkweed essentially fills a caterpillar with toxins, yet obviously the Spined Soldier, among others, can handle that.The rain too has made a contribution to the dissolution of some corpses. But I must be feeling optimistic:
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Do you know the story of the Callery Pear? It’s another invasive nightmare.

Monarchs: The Next Generation

Chrysalis down! It was still attached, so I positioned this leaf in the thicket so that the pupa would hang down.Half of the newly emerged adults seen Friday.Larval stage still at it.This early instar was as long as a dime across.Milkweeds make butterflies. These have been completely stripped of leaves. This tiny patch had two dozen caterpillars on it two weeks ago.

Return of the Return of Monarchy

I hope you didn’t think you were going to get away from these things, did you? I’ve had an unparalleled experience watching these critters for two-three weeks now. Missed all this in school, by the way, but must say, the wild is more appealing. A variation on the pattern; I’ve seen similar once before.
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Already on shaky ground truth-wise, Kavanaugh firmly denies, following his rapey boss Trump’s strategy of deny, deny, deny… while, paradoxically, Republicans insist that what a white prep school boy does at 17 doesn’t count anymore. Pollitt discusses. Remember, Trump called for the execution of teenage rapists (they were innocent, by the way; of course they were also black) and it’s standard Republican strategy to brand sex offenders for life. Meanwhile, Kavanaugh dissented in a decision to let a 17-year-old in immigrant detention have the abortion she wanted: he wanted to force her to have a child.

Is it too much to say that forcing girls and women is a through-line in the ideology of this repellent radical misogynist?

Revenge of the Monarch

This is the whole point, right? A new butterfly, hiding under a leaf next to her chrysalis husk. She’ll dry off, harden up, get ready for the world. And what a world! Is this the generation that is Mexico-bound? I’m guessing so since it’s already mid-September. How does she know? Remarkably, these long-distance, south-bound migrants can live up to nine months, compared to the 2-5 weeks of summer generations. How do other caterpillars know not to eat the leaf this pupa is hanging from, or do they? Two more. My eyes are getting better at this. Both suspended from the milkweed leaf’s midrib. Did they do it at the same time or did one follow the other, as if it was a good place, or is it just random? Monarch sex determination is set at fertilization. There’s a way a tell if the pupa is male or female, evidently, but you have to look closely, and I’m not handling any of these since I follow the Prime Directive. Here’s a Spined Soldier Bug adult sucking the life out of one of the caterpillars. I’ve been seeing the nymph stage assassins at work, but this is the first adult I’ve seen.Saw about three dozen live caterpillars in action, September 6th, overcast hot and grossly humid, and a trio of dead or dying.


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