Monday, July 20, 2015

July 11..Will this day be the best butterfly transit walk of 2015 at Brukner?

There were a lot of photographers on July 11 and many photo opportunities.  Here we are walking along the drive back to the Dumpster in the parking lot where we started our walk.  We are counting  Red Admirals.  We saw at least 40, most of them along the drive.

 Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) Wingspan 1.75-2.50 inches (4.4-6.4 cm)

They were fresh and brightly colored.  No torn wings.  They must have emerged from their chrysalises within the last day or so.

We saw Great Spangled Fritillaries along the drive and earlier on our walk, too.  Some of the fritillaries were raggedy.  They have been around for a week or more.  We counted at least nine.

Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele) Wingspan:2.9-3.8 inches (7.1-9.7 cm)

Small Eastern Milkweed Bugs have reached the adult stage.

Small Milkweed Bug (Lygaeus kalmii)

The Red-Spotted Purple was too far away to count but was clearly visible through binoculars that some of the group carried.

Red-Spotted Purple (Limenitis  arthernis astyanax) Wingspan 3.0-4.0 inches (7.6-10.2 cm)

Beside the Interpretive Center and throughout the woods we saw Northern Spring Peepers. I was pleased to finally see them. Tom had never seen them either.  I was amazed to see how tiny they were, about the size of a dime.  Tom and I have heard their mating choruses in the spring.  They sing  songs loud enough for  much larger creatures

Three photos of Northern Spring Peeper (Pseudacaris crucifer crucifer)  Length .75-1.25 inches (2-3 cm)

Ruth gently opened a folded spicebush leaf and found the Spicebush Caterpillar.

Larva of Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus) Wingspan 3.5-5.0 inches (8.9-12.7 cm)

We have been stopping in to see it for three weeks.  Last week I posted a photo that showed what looked like the caterpillar's head.  In this photo its true head is pointed to by the green arrow.  Ruth rubbed the larva enough to disturb it a little and it extended its orange-yellow osmeterium.  This is a defense mechanism which makes it look like a snake.  Normally the structure is folded up in the body.

Larva of Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus) Wingspan: 3.5-5.0 inches (8.9-12.7 cm)

This is one of the four Eastern Commas that we saw.  We also saw one Question Mark which is a very similar Anglewing.

Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma) Wingspan: 2.0-2.4 inches (5.1-6.1 cm)

During the last two years of walking the transit we have seen many Pearl Crescents.  For some reason, we are seeing very few this year.  Here is the only one we saw.

Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos) Wingspan: 1.25-1.60 inches (3.2-4.1 cm)

Throughout the woods we are seeing Ebony Jewelwings, a species of Damselfly.  This is the male.  The female has a prominent white spot on the ends of its forewings.

Ebony Jewelwing (Calopteryx  maculata) 1.1-1.4 inches (28-37 mm)

Last year we saw dozens of these shiny orbs on the Stinging Nettles.  We did not see many this year.  We are hoping to someday find out what they are.  Are they eggs or galls or something else?

There is a photo of a Hickory Tussock Moth in  Caterpillars of Eastern North America  by David L. Wagner which shows a similar pattern on its back.  However it has black middorsal tufts.  Ruth is wondering if we found an earlier instar.  Caterpillars look different after each molt.  Most field guides show only the last instar.

Hickory Tussock Moth (Lophocampa  caryae)

We have two species of small blue butterflies in our area during the summer.  We saw a few that flitted away before we could identify which species they were.  This one Tom photographed so we know it is a Summer Azure.  It doesn't have tails like the Eastern Tailed Blue.

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

Ruth notes the blossoming flowers as we walk since they are a source of nectar for the butterflies.  She was pleased to see this Swamp Milkweed.  She planted it last year and wasn't sure that it had lived.

Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

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