Southern migrants

Almost 1 out of 4 of the butterflies that we have here are migrants mostly from the south. These butterflies do not survive the winters here and work their way north colonizing as they go.  Monarchs are an example of this. Some show up early but more often in the later summer and fall.  The white asters blooming in the park right now are attracting many of these. Sachems, Fiery Skippers, Common Buckeyes, Painted Ladies and Variegated Fritillaries.

Common Buckeyes are just amazing!  They look like each one is hand painted.

Common Buckeye
Common Buckeye

In the fall the buckeye has a reddish tint to the under side of the wings called the Rosa form.

Common Buckeye rosa form
Common Buckeye- Rosa form 

Fiery Skippers are really common here right now.

Fiery Skipper
Fiery Skipper

Painted Ladies are having an irruption year.  I was in a place last week that had hundreds of them. They can easily be confused with American Ladies, but it’s a safe bet right now that if you see one it’s a Painted Lady.

Painted Lady
Painted Lady

And you never know when you may run into a day flying moth.  In this case, a Yellow Collared Scape Moth.

Yellow Collared Scape Moth
Yellow Collared Scape Moth

American Snout

I had another good butterfly in the park this morning.  An American Snout.  I don’t see many snouts but have seen them in the park a few times. By looking at the picture it’s obvious why they are called snouts.

American Snout
American Snout- Strasburg Park

The ‘snout’ is actually sensory structures called labial palps on either side of the proboscis.   You can see them on other butterflies with closeup pictures. On this butterfly they are extreme. Or maybe, extremely extreme.

New Park Butterfly- Banded Hairstreak

Today I had a Banded Hairstreak nectaring on Milkweed in the park. This is the first time I’ve seen one in the park.  You can see how small they are by the size of the flowers on the Milkweed.

Banded Hairstreak (Strasburg Park)
Banded Hairstreak on milkweed

They use several types of Oaks as host plants and I usually (almost always) see them in clearings in larger woods or beside a larger wooded area nectaring on milkweed or dogbane. So it was a bit of a surprise to see this one in the park.




Summer Azures part 2

It seems like a long time since the last posting about Summer Azures. Today there were multiple females ovipositing (laying eggs) on the Silky Dogwood in the open area near the pond. This is just one of a number of plants that they will use as host plants including other shrubby dogwoods. They lay their eggs on the unopened floral buds.

Summer Azure ovipositing on Silky Dogwood
Summer Azure ovipositing on Silky Dogwood

I think in my earlier posting I referred to them as bivoltine or, having two broods, but they are actually multivoltine and have 3 or even 4 broods.  The below picture shows why this is a female, that being the black forewing border on the top of the wing and the submarginal spots on the top of the hindwing. Of course, if they are laying eggs like in the top picture, you don’t need to see that!

Summer Azure on Silky Dogwood.jpg
female Summer Azure

When I started this blog my thinking was to show the 99% of wildlife, particularly insects, that most people never see. Not because they are rare or not around but because most people don’t look closely. This Gray Hairstreak is a perfect example. A very striking butterfly when fresh like this one. They have a wide range and though not abundant are common in small numbers. But being small, they are overlooked unless seen through binoculars or in a picture.

Gray Hairstreak 2
Gray Hairstreak

Also today I had my first dragonfly of the year, a Common Green Darner, cruising around looking for dinner.  And in the cedar and pine grove a batch of Spring Azures, not to be confused with the Summer Azures from a previous post.  These came out a while ago but the recent warm weather brought out more of them. You can see by the picture that they look just like the Summer Azure. These may have been mostly males as they seemed to be patrolling for females and getting in territorial dogfights. Sounds a lot like the human species except that the Spring Azures don’t drink beer and watch football. At least not that I’m aware of.

Spring Azure
Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon)