Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Walking the Brukner Nature Center Butterfly Transit with Steve, September 4, 2016

I didn't feel up to walking the Butterfly Transit on Saturday with the Brukner group.  Instead, Steve and I did our own Butterfly Transit walk on Sunday afternoon.  I gave Steve the notepad and pen to record the butterfly species and I concentrated on getting photos.


We looked hard for caterpillars and insect eggs as well as for adult butterflies.  We found the cluster of eggs below on a common milkweed plant near the Interpretative Center front doors.  We were primarily looking for Monarch butterfly eggs but they don't lay their eggs in clusters.  I don't know what these eggs will hatch into.



We found a tiny yellow lump.




It seemed to be a tiny insect.  One of the great advantages of the new cameras, even a relatively simple one like my Olympic Tough is their ability to magnify tiny objects.

An anglewing flew past, not stopping so we could identify it as a Hackberry or a Tawny Emperer.  Probably it was a Hackberry because we usually see them near the front of the Interpretative Center.


We were hoping to find butterfly caterpillars.  We didn't find any but we found other things, a  ladybug...


and  a black and white and tan spider.


We found webworms on a redbud tree.


Near the log house , Steve spotted this  Hickory Tussock Moth caterpillar.

Steve used his pen to point out an interesting bug.  I have seen them before but I'll have to go through my insect field guides and see if I can find a similar one.  It has an interesting light and dark pattern around its abdomen.



This butterfly teased us at Catface Pond.  We thought we were seeing one of the dark swallowtails but when I enlarged it on my camera we could see that it didn't have any tails.  It was a Red-spotted Purple.  It had no tails and the blue pattern on its wings with the black line across matched the photo in the butterfly field guide.




We saw the first Pearl Crescent of the day along the pond shore also.  We saw 15 total on the Butterfly transit.

Our first "gold mine" of butterflies was on the land bridge between Catface Pond and the meadow.
We saw at least 20 Silver-spotted Skippers as well as 3 Hummingbird Moths And a Hummingbird.  All of them were feeding on tall thistles.  A ragged Great Spangled Fritillary flitted past also.


Just as we were about to walk on toward the meadow, Steve found this fierce fly.  Look at those big eyes and pointy mouth.  It's a robber fly which flies out, stabs passing flying insects and inserts a chemical which paralyzes the insects and turns their insides to liquid.  He can then find a resting spot so he can sit and sip his meal.  Most robber flies have a hump behind their head and large eyes with a dip between them.


We found Pearl Crescents, Cabbage Whites and 1 Tiger Swallowtail in the meadow.  We also saw quite a few more Silver-spotted Skippers.


On the Hickory Ridge section of the Transit we found this caterpillar which is probably a moth caterpillar since it is hairy.  In the overgrown prairie patch we found more Silver-spotted Skippers and a few Pearl Crescents.

It was along the paved lane as we walked back to the Center that we found what really pleased us...5 Monarchs.  Here are photos of two of them.  Notice the Silver-spotted Skipper in the second photo. We saw huge numbers of them along the lane.  I'm sure we didn't count all of them.



One sat on my wrist.


Then it flew to Steve where it stopped a moment on his pants.  The skipper was gone by the time I
turned to take that photo.

It was along the lane that we found a third caterpillar, fuzzy so it, too, was most likely a moth larva.



At the Butterfly garden, we saw more Pearl Crescents and also a little blue butterfly, either a Eastern Tailed-blue or a Summer Azure.  It flew into a tangle of flowers and leaves before we got a good look at it.

We also saw a lot of honeybees and bumblebees on the flowers.  Steve especially likes bees so I took pictures of them, too.





We tallied our finds when we returned to the van.  We discovered that we had counted at least 56 Silver-spotted Skippers.

We were amazed by the huge numbers of Silver-spotted Skippers but we were happiest to see the Monarchs.  We haven't seen many this summer.

Our "official count" was
   Silver-spotted Skippers...56
   Tiger Swallowtail...1
   Red-spotted Purple...1
   Monarch...5
   Pearl Crescent...15
   Cabbage White...10
   Blue (Azure or Eastern Tailed-blue...1
   Hackberry Emperor...1
   Friterllary (probably Great Spangled)...1

1 comment:

Far Side of Fifty said...

I have never heard of a robber fly but it sounds like something that belongs in a horror movie! You guys did great! We are finally seeing some Monarchs I think thy may be migrating:)