Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Butterfly Survey, September 16, 2 PM to 3:30 PM

Ruth brought in this beautiful Black Swallowtail caterpillar. (Papilio polyxenes) It is on Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota) which is one of the members of the carrot family which it feeds on. When she touched it a bit to irritate it, the caterpillar extended its normally hidden  osmeterium which is a protrudable forked scent gland which emits a foul odor. I had trouble getting a photo with my little camera and eventually the caterpillar was so irritated by Ruth that it emitted the foul odor. Ruth says the smell reminds her a bit of citrus.

We walked the survey route in the afternoon because mornings have been below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Butterflies are more likely to be flying if the temperatures are above 70. We debated about continuing the survey into October which is the official last month and decided we would wait and see what kind of weather October brings. We saw more Pearl Crescents, Cabbage Whites, and Sulphurs than any others. We did see one Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma). Yvonne got a good look at the comma-like silver spot on its ventral side (below). We saw a skipper which we couldn't identify even using the field guide. 

Skippers get their name from their characteristic rapid darting flight. They are generally distinguished from butterflies by their larger bodies in comparison to their wings, their relatively small angular wings and antennae ending in a thin extension. Butterfly antennae have more of a club-like end. Both Yvonne and I took photos. I hope Yvonne's were better than mine.


I did get a decent photo of an Eastern Tailed-Blue (Everes comyntas).

We noticed lots of small moths flying about. One stopped long enough on Ruth's arm for me to get this photo.

 If you click on the photo, it will enlarge so you can get a better view of its antennae. The "fuzzy " antennae are a distinguishing characteristic of many moths. I hesitate to say "always" because there is very little that is "always" or "never" in the natural world.

1 comment:

  1. I bet that was very interesting! Side and bottom..I will try that for ID from now on:)