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Archive for the ‘Unusual Insects’ Category

…… and picked up the exact color of the Gum tree ……… AMAZING !!!

 

 

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Well, I came across a Hornets nest hanging about 20′ high in a tree today. All these photos taken with a long lens:

Bald Faced Hornets

Bald Faced Hornets

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After a disastrous 2013, where I spotted maybe 3-4 Monarchs, 2014 is looking up, During the past week, I have seen about 50-75 each morning cruising Southwestward towards Mexico. Yesterday morning I saw over 100; simply cruising in that same direction. Today there are 7 on one butterfly bush (non-native) on a stop over. With several more days of nice weather forecast here; these appears to be a GOOD year for them. I’ll never forget 2012, when I had about 1,000 on a snakeroot patch behind my home. I took a short video of one that was on the bush with 6 others at 4:05 PM this afternoon taken with a handheld Canon G15:

 

 

 

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As rare as the endangered Diana Fritillary (previous Post) is, the Spangled Fritillary is common and widespread. The Gulf Fritillary is fairly common here in the mountains. For example, I see the Spangled Fritillaries many times each day (May through October) and I have seen the Gulf Fritillary 2 dozen times this spring and summer. The Gulf Fritillary uses the native Passion Flower Vine as its host plant and these flowers are very common here in Newton County, Arkansas.

 

Spangled Fritillary

Spangled Fritillary

Gulf Fritillary

Gulf Fritillary

native Passion Flower (HOST) for Gulf Fritillary

native Passion Flower (HOST) for Gulf Fritillary

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Still 2 weeks away from the official start of autumn ! But a 64F this morning with N Breeze and a sunny and beautiful day, I trekked down to the Little Buffalo River and sat in the shade next to a patch of wildflowers next to the stream and photographed a few juvenile Hummingbirds on some recently emerging Great Blue Lobelia; from there, the day just got more beautiful !! I was then joined by an Eastern Wood PeeWee gleaning aquatic insects from over the flowing water and a beautiful Gulf Fritillary on a white blossom:

 

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Butterflies have been scarce due to the heavy rains of July. I saw a few Pipe-vine swallowtails on a butterfly bush this afternoon – the sun just now came out – this photo taken with a 300mm telephoto lens:

 

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This morning, I watched as mostly baby Hummingbirds and Honeybees shared a feeder after it was filled. They seem to get along quite well and both need nectar right now. The males Hummingbirds seem to be on the decline; and I see fewer and fewer adult Females. They are now drinking 2 gallons per day. My guess, is that they are largely juveniles; born within the past month. Photos were taken this morning as 10:00 AM; all photos taken in a 20 second period:

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This August, September, and October (so far) I have seen only 4-5 Monarchs; I have seen 6 Black Bears in the same time frame. That is a huge change from lat year and from 2011 when I saw maybe 10,000 on week in September. There may be a problem !

These are photos from 2 days ago, October 14th, that I snapped of 1 Monarch on a butterfly bush in  my front yard here in the Boston Mountains, west southwest of Parthenon, Arkansas. Anyone that knows Black Bears knows there is a healthy population in this part of Arkansas; but that it is very rare to see them. They are highly nocturnal

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From USA Today:

GREENVILLE, N.Y. — Spotting a monarch butterfly this summer may be difficult, according to some experts who fear the population of the orange-and-black butterfly is crashing.

The butterflies are known for their long-distance migration, a feat made even more amazing because the fluttering insects heading south each fall are about four generations descended from the ones that left Mexico the previous spring.

They also serve as an important part of the food chain for birds.

Illegal logging in the Mexican forests where they spend the winter, new climate patterns and the disappearance of milkweed — the only plant on which monarchs lay their eggs and on which their caterpillars feed — are being blamed for their shrinking numbers.

Brooke Beebe, former director of the Native Plant Center at Westchester Community College in Valhalla, N.Y., collects monarch eggs, raises them from caterpillar to butterfly and releases them.

“I do that when they’re here. They’re not here,” she said.

The alarm over disappearing monarchs intensified this spring when conservation organizations reported that the amount of Mexican forest the butterflies occupied was at its lowest in 20 years. The World Wildlife Fund, in partnership with a Mexican wireless company and Mexico’s National Commission of Protected Areas, found nine hibernating colonies occupied almost 3 acres during the 2012-13 winter, a 59% decrease from the previous winter.

Because the insects can’t be counted individually, the colonies’ total size is used. Almost 20 years ago, the colonies covered about 45 acres. A couple of acres contains millions of monarchs.

“The monarch population is pretty strong, except it’s not as strong as it used to be and we find out it keeps getting smaller and smaller,” said Travis Brady, the education director at the Greenburgh Nature Center here.

Monarchs arrived at the nature center later this year and in fewer numbers, Brady said.

The nature center’s butterfly house this summer was aflutter with red admirals, giant swallowtails, painted ladies and monarchs, among others. But the last were difficult to obtain because collectors supplying the center had trouble finding monarch eggs in the wild, he said.

No one is suggesting monarchs will become extinct. The concern is whether the annual migration will remain sustainable, said Jeffrey Glassberg, the North American Butterfly Association’s president.

The record low shouldn’t set off a panic, said Marianna T. Wright, executive director of the National Butterfly Center in Texas, a project of the butterfly association.

“It should certainly get some attention,” she said. “I do think the disappearance of milkweed nationwide needs to be addressed. If you want to have monarchs, you have to have milkweed.”

Milkweed is often not part of suburban landscape, succumbing to lawn mowers and weed whackers, monarch advocates point out. Without it, monarch eggs aren’t laid and monarch caterpillars can’t feed and develop into winged adults.

“Many people know milkweed, and many people like it,” said Brady at the nature center. “And a lot of people actively try to destroy it. The health of the monarch population is solely dependent on the milkweed plant.”

The widespread use of herbicide-resistant corn and soybeans, which has resulted in the loss of more than 80 million acres of monarch habitat in recent years, also threatens the plant, according to the website Monarch Watch. In spraying fields to eradicate unwanted plants, Midwest farmers also eliminate butterflies’ habitat.

The 2012 drought and wildfires in Texas also made butterfly life difficult. All monarchs heading to or from the eastern two-thirds of the country pass through the state.

Monarchs have been absent from the Hudson River Audubon Society’s butterfly garden at Lenoir Preserve in Yonkers, N.Y., said society President Saul Scheinbach.

The only good thing is that monarchs, like other insects, reproduce rapidly and most likely will recover if left alone, he said.

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Just a photo of a Damsel Fly:

 

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Other then a brief thundershower on the 15th (got 0.09 inches) its been quiet here in the mountains; the in night the insects have really started screaming afterr dark. I hope we get some forcasted rain this Sunday because we are starting into another drought here in NW Arkansas. There has been a burn ban on for 3 weeks now. The thistle is just about done blooming but I did get a phopto of two Fritillaries on the last thistle heads:

 

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