Friday, June 19, 2015

Thanks, Phil, for the Virtual Walk With the Transit Group

I missed the Brukner Butterfly Transit Walk on June 13 because I was celebrating my birthday at the Cork Wine and Dine at The Green in Beavercreek, Ohio.  The meal was delicious.  I had salmon with asparagus and Tom had chicken over pasta. We are happy to claim John Martin, the executive chef, as our grandson.

Phil sent me a gift, the photos he took while I was dining.

Summer Azure (Celastrina neglecta)   Wingspan 0.80 - 1.25 inches (2.0 - 3.2 cm.)

Hackberry Butterfly (Asterocampa celtis) Wingspan 2.0 - 2.6 inches (5.1 - 6.6 cm.)

If I think of Hackberry Butterflies in human terms, I think of them as the friendly sort who never meet a stranger.  They are inquisitive and often land on passing humans.  Sometimes they even ride along on our shoulder or back as we walk.

Here is a cousin of the butterflies, a moth.  We always see a variety of moths when we walk.  Most of them are not as easy to identify as are the butterflies.

Usually near Cattail Pond we see Dragonflies.  Using the field guide, Dragonflies Through Binoculars by Sidney W. Dunkle, I am tentatively identifying it as a young male Common Whitetail (Libellula lydia)  The mature male has a bluish white tail.  This is one of the King Skimmers.

Phil took several photos of Daddy Longlegs, Here is one.

Many people call them harvestmen.  Like spiders, they belong to the family of Arachnids.  According to Kaufman's Field Guide to Insects of North America (which includes some Arachnids) they eat insects and other arthropods but also eat dead insects and drink plant juices.

Other interesting creatures the group saw include this white-tailed deer and a caterpillar which looks like it must be another Wild Indigo Duskywing caterpillar, much larger than the two we saw on earlier walks.

The photo below was taken near the drive into the Interpretative Center.  We saw these same glistening transparent golden globes on the Stinging Nettles last year.  They are about the size of a pea. I don't know if anyone in our group has learned what they are.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Learning About Wild Indigo Duskywings...May and June, 2015.

Wild Indigo Duskywing (Erynnis baptisiae)  Wingspan 1.3 - 1.7 inches (3.3 - 4.3 cm)

It helps that we usually have lots of pairs of eyes looking for butterflies.  We never know who will be looking in the right place at the right moment.  If it had not been for Jackie, we might not have seen this butterfly.

Brukner Nature Center's Butterfly Transit group is fortunate, too,  to have many photographers among its members.  One of the best ways to identify butterflies is by photograph.  We don't have to capture the butterflies which can be difficult and we don't traumatize the the butterflies.

This is a little butterfly that I would never have attempted to identify before becoming a member of this group.  I am still not confident I could ID it if I were by myself.  There are many little brownish butterflies.  By looking in field guides, it is possible to compare the tiny differences among the various similar butterflies.

I also found several good sources of information on the Internet.  One is

From this source I learned that Columbine Duskywing (Erynnis lucilius) , and Persious Duskywing(Erynnis persius)  are similar to the Indigo Dusky Wing.

I checked in Butterflies of Ohio, Field Guide, by Jaret C. Daniels and learned that neither the Columbine or the Persious is found in this part of Ohio.  So there is identification by process of elimination.

But each one of the brownish butterflies have identifying characteristics if the searcher knows what to look for.  As the name indicates, the larva of this butterfly likes Wild Indigo and a wide variety of plants in the bean family.  Another host is Crown Vetch which is often planted along highways.  Because of the Crown Vetch the Indigo Dusky Wing is doing well and expanding its territory.

In May we found a tiny larva on a Wild Indigo planted along the side of the Brukner Interpretive Center.  It is well camouflaged by being green.  Notice its black head.

In June, we found a larger larva on the same plant.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

June 6, 2015... Never Expected to See This at Charleston Falls...An American Columbo

Jeanne and I were looking for flowers on our morning walk at Charleston Falls and not finding many.  It's past the ephemeral flowers season and not yet the showy prairie flowers season.

But then we found this on the prairie.

Photo by Tom Persing

The plant that came to my mind was American Columbo ( Frasera caroliniensis)  but I had never seen one at Charleston Falls and didn't expect to see one.  The only one I had ever seen was years ago on a high ridge in a wooded area at Brukner Nature Center.  I didn't have a wildflower book with me so I wasn't about to name it.

Back home, I looked in three wildflower field guides and found American Columbo or Monument Plant  in the third one, Newcomb's Wildflower Guide. There was no mistaking the identification.  The size was right and the leaf arrangement was right.  It is found in open woods and meadows, the two places where I had seen it.

Now that I knew the name, I looked it up on the Internet.  There were good photos of the flowers which are distinctive.

I persuaded Tom to come see the plant the next day.

Photo by Tom Persing

Photo by Tom Persing

The heavily fringed lumps in the middle of each petal are called nectar pads.  I have never seen another flower with these pads.

I called a friend who I knew was interested in wildflowers.  She said she had seen American Columbo on farmland in the area.  Another flower lover told me she knew people who had it on property in Adams County. A third friend says that it blooms some years at Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm.  

Maybe American Columbo isn't as rare as I thought it was.  Still, the sighting was exciting to me.

One of the reasons I have seen it only  twice is that it lives as a rosette of leaves for five to fifteen years or more before finally flowering. According to one Internet source, it may live as a rosette for as many as thirty years before sending up its three to eight foot stalk.

Sources seem convinced that after it blooms, it dies.  So any flowering American Columbo that shows up in that same vicinity years down the road is a "new" plant.

Tom took this photo to show the height.

Photo by Tom Persing

An interesting note on one website was that American Columbos in the same area tend to bloom in the same year.  The supposition is that it must have exactly the right conditions to bloom and that if all of the plants bloom the same year there is a better chance that they will cross-pollinate.

This photo shows the thick red stem of the plant. When Tom and I returned the next day, the stem had turned a deeper red, almost magenta, but that color didn't show up well in the photos we took.

Photo by Pauline Persing

Monday, June 1, 2015

Detective Work on the Brukner Butterfly Transit Monitoring Trail

There are not many butterfly transit monitoring sites in Ohio. It would be great if people in each of our eighty-eight counties would set up transits. A transit is a route that butterfly lovers follow weekly.  They count the butterflies within fifteen feet of them.  The fifteen feet can be in the air or in any direction or on the ground.

Butterflies are a good indicator of habitat.  If plants are destroyed, butterflies disappear because each species has particular plant needs.  Many people know that Monarch butterflies require milkweeds but may not realize that other butterflies require hackberry trees or violets or nettles.

On Saturday, May 9,  Jackie spotted this butterfly on a redbud tree.  

Our consensus was that the butterfly was that the butterfly was an elfin.  There are several elfins in Ohio.

This is a second photo of the same butterfly.  It looks as though the butterfly is ovipositing (laying an egg).  Henry's Elfins  lay their eggs on redbud trees.   

Ruth has sent the photo to the experts for an opinion.  Butterfly photos are an important means of identification.

This butterfly is not showy or large.  But all butterflies are important.

Whether you live in Ohio or somewhere else in the world, you can do a bit for our earth by taking a walk each week during butterfly season and noting the butterflies you see.

On Saturday, May 30, Jackie found further confirmation that Henry"s Elfins are at Brukner.  On a redbud leaf she found its caterpillar.