Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Butterflies of Summer & More

Great Spangled Fritillary feeds on Spotted Knapweed
We haven't had the best showing of butterflies this summer, but it hasn't been terrible either. Some species seem conspicuously absent while others experienced a better than average season. For example, Great Spangled Fritillaries have been fairly widespread, while the normally common Morning Cloak butterflies have been hard to come by.Year to year and season to season there are many factors that determine butterfly abundance. Everything from weather to the number of predators, to the condition and abundance of the butterflies' food plants are all important factors. Parasitic wasps certainly take their toll. One of the Baltimore Checkerspot pupae that I had been monitoring ultimately hatched a wasp instead of a butterfly. Obviously an ichneumon  wasp had injected an egg right into the chrysalis. After the egg hatched, the wasp grub destroyed the developing butterfly. Fortunately, checkerspots had a lot of successes this year and could afford some losses.

The Northern Pearly-eyed  belongs to the butterfly family called the "browns"
The outer wings of the Pearly-eyed are replete with eye-spots
Top wings show a different configuration of eye-spots.
A Northern Pearly-eyed sneaks through the honeysuckle branches
The Eyed Brown breeds alongside checkerspots in one of our wetlands
The Common Wood Nymph was quite common in the fields this season
This Common Wood Nymph shows yellow around its 2 prominent eye-spots - an unusual variation in this region
The Painted Lady can be found on several continents
The American Lady has an intricate spiderweb design on its underwing as well as 2 very large eye-spots
One of many hairstreak butterflies found this season
The Hickory Hairstreak was more common this year than last
The Banded Hairstreak was a bit hard to find this season
Hickory Hairstreak in all its subtle glory
Rare now for about 5 years - the colorful Acadian Hairstreak
Baltimore Checkerspots remain the butterfly story of the season, since they were common in all suitable habitat
Nothing subtle about this beauty
A Checkerspot, freshly emerged from its chrysalis, rests on the unopened chrysalis of a neighbor 
The Little Glassywing Skipper on a Heal All flower
The Dun Skipper feeding on Valerian flowers 
The Hummingbird Moth gets nectar from Common Milkweed flowers.
Eight-spot Forester moth feeds on milkweed
Sqaure-stemmed Monkey flower grows along the creeks and in the beaver meadows
Thimbleweed  is one of the anemones that grows in open areas
Buttonbush has been flowering for over 2 weeks in a small wet meadow near our main reforestation field
Royal Catchfly - from a distance it looks to some like Cardinal Flower, but is no relation
Virgin's Bower - a native clematis 

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