Posts Tagged 'butterflies'

Small Kites on the Loose

Surely the last butterflies of the year, these pics from last week? No, I saw two Monarchs heading south yesterday. This is so weird, the weird that is the new normal in the global disruptions of radical climate change. All the Monarchs we’ve seen so late into this fall? Probably not a good thing: they should be in Mexico by now; they’re trapped up here by the weather.

Just Wow

Common Buckeye, Junonia coenia.

Weekend Update

It’s been absurdly warm. Lots of trees are nowhere ready to shake off their leaves. Bumblebees, which can take 60 degree temperatures, you might expect to still be around, but some of the smaller bees were out and about, too. This metallic green bee of the Agapostemon genus, for instance. But it’s late October: there isn’t much still blooming, still providing nectar and pollen.There were still Monarch’s moving this weekend. We noticed 15 in a small transverse of Brooklyn on Saturday, 35 on Sunday. More than a dozen each day were feeding at the inexhaustible Buddleja by Green-Wood’s Valley Water. Watching two Cooper’s Hawks soaring around each other, two more Monarchs kited into the binocular view. Monarchs float or sail quite a bit, coasting with the wind or tacking against it. They have been reported flying at 11,000 feet.

In addition to the Monarchs, this patch had some Painted Beauties, a high count of five Common Buckeyes (a record!), some Sulphur, Cabbage Whites, and several skippers, along with European Hornets on the hunt.A few Autumn Meadowhawks, including in tandem mating flight, Common Green Darners, and Familiar Bluets were also spotted.And a moth in the grass.

So Many Monarchs

Have you noticed what a good year it is for Monarch Butterflies? There have been lots of positive reports from around the city and further afield about the large numbers of Danaus plexippus being seen. On Saturday, I walked from Sunset Park to Park Slope and back again to pick up some baked goods. I was distracted: over two hours, I counted 51 Monarchs, the majority of them overhead, heading south towards Mexico along 5th Avenue. Detouring into Green-Wood, I found fourteen. Not one was in the pretty plantings, all exotica, at the neo-gothic gate at 25th Street — a good argument for pollinator-friendly plantings. Because up in the native meadow patch — the prototype of a much larger hillside native meadow project — there were at least half a dozen winking their enormous velvety wings. And in the extraordinarily productive low-growing Buddleja patch by Valley Water there were at least seven more. (Yes, this one spoils that native plant theory…) Normally, I only see one or two Monarchs around these candy purple flowers, which have been swarming with Painted Ladies (Vanessa cardui) for a solid month and a half. Portrait of a Lady. There has also been a single Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) in this patch, as well as a whole crowd of skippers (and European Hornets trying to tackle everything). Note that small gap in the hind-wing of this individual; I’ve been seeing this one for a while now. Why go somewhere else to feed?

The Butterfly International

Was it my imagination or where the (Red) Admirals in Sweden redder? Vanessa atalanta is found all around the northern hemisphere and is often the last butterfly seen flying in the fall.This birch sap leak was attracting them all at the edge of the ljung (heath).

We also saw our old friend the Cabbage White in its native continent, too. But it paid to look closer: this one on inspection turned out to be Pieris napi, the Green-Veined White, Rapsfjäril.

Meanwhile, in the Bronx…This Monarch was having some trouble, dragging her wings like a wet prom dress. She didn’t seem to be able to fly and was crawling around the leaves as a wasp harried her. The wasp actually took off a piece of wet, damaged wing.Nearby, a caterpillar was at the start of pupation. Also in the NYBG, this Calastrina genus blue was quite obsessed with a small bird turd, coming back to it repeatedly and allowing me to get my phone in its face. One of the “Spring Azure” complex, rather late in the year?Green-Wood, meanwhile, was busy with Painted Ladies and several other species, including this skipper slurping up some nectar. And a Monarch caterpillar was still growing strong.

Current Lepidoptera

And even more butterflies. This is a Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus). Mostly southern, but makes forays as far north as New England. First spotting of this species for me, in Green-Wood.Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) caterpillar. This is the one that gets on your parsley; the earlier instars or stages are black with a white splotch in the center, making them look somewhat like bird turds. Behind a fence on a lot in Red Hook, where several Killdeer, a couple of Semipalmated Sandpipers, and a Semipalmated Plover were patrolling the mud of a stalled development project. Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis) on a sidewalk in Brooklyn Heights.And another, this time in Coffey Park, winking its wings in some sun-spotted shade.A Red-baned Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops) found with swarms of bees and wasps on a non-native aralia at the NYBG. This is another mostly southeastern butterfly species that strays up into our parts (but I supposed all these reference books are old; planetary warming means species are moving north.Same pollination frenzy. This Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis) looks species-perfect on the outside, except for some ragged edges to the wings.But looks rather like an “intergrade” between Red-spotted and its co-specific White Admiral, which is generally found further north (I’ve never seen one). Here’s another I spotted some years ago in Prospect with more purple.

Painted Ladies

There were more Vanessa cardui butterflies around the Green-Wood Buddleja planting than I’ve ever seen in one place in New York City.Really nice to see so many individuals of slightly different sizes and color intensity.What is up with this hanging out on the stone or tarmac?


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