Friday, June 27, 2014

National Butterfly Center, 6/27/14

Wednesday's rain really greened things up at the National Butterfly Center. Five hours of wandering around turned up 44 species. One of the first was this cooperative Two-barred Flasher.

This Guava Skipper was nectaring on crotons just a short distance from the guava bushes.

I kept scrutinizing the checkered-skippers and finally found my first Desert Checkered-Skipper for the NBC.

Texas Powdered Skippers continued to show. I saw two of them today.

Caught one of the Crimson Patches ovipositing. Gee, it layed a big pile eggs!

It's a good thing because replacements are needed. This one just barely had a pulse.

Here's a pretty Little Yellow.

I haven't seen many Common Mestras lately. Here's a nice one.

Giant Swallowtail 1
Large Orange Sulphur 1
Lyside Sulphur 30
Little Yellow 6
Dainty Sulphur 1
Gray Hairstreak 5
Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak 8
Dusky-blue Groundstreak 4
Western Pygmy-Blue 1
Cassius Blue 1
Ceraunus Blue 1
Reakirt's Blue 3
American Snout 2
Gulf Fritillary 3
Zebra Heliconian 2
Variegated Fritillary 1
Bordered Patch 8
Crimson Patch 5
Texan Crescent 4
Vesta Crescent 1
Phaon Crescent 6
Pearl Crescent 2
Question Mark 1
Common Mestra 1
Tropical Leafwing 1
Empress Leilia 50
Carolina Satyr 1
Queen 40
Guava Skipper 1
Brown Longtail 4
Two-barred Flasher 1
Texas Powdered-Skipper 2
White Checkered-Skipper 20
Tropical Checkered-Skipper 6
Desert Checkered-Skipper 1
Laviana White-Skipper 8
Turk's-cap White-Skipper 2
Common Sootywing 2
Clouded Skipper 25
Fiery Skipper 1
Whirlabout 1
Southern Broken-Dash 1
Celia's Roadside-Skipper 1
Eufala Skipper 1

Saturday, June 21, 2014

La Puerta Tract, Lower Rio Grande NWR, 6/21/14

Mike Rickard and I were going to work over Yturria Brush this morning, but when we got there we decided to drive on down the road to La Puerta tract just east of Rio Grande City.  He had been there years ago and it was the first time for me.  We eventually found some great native habitat but conditions were dry after the heat of the past week and we did not see too many species of butterflies.

This Desert Checkered Skipper was very cooperative.  As I study checkered-skippers more, I am finding they are pretty easy to ID.  Desert always has a bigger, brighter row of submarginal spots on the forewing than Tropical and an evenly checkered fringe like White.  But White-checkered Skipper lacks the leading spot.  So IMHO this makes Desert Checkered Skipper the most attractive of the three.

The small dark spots on the leading edge of the pale underwing is also a good field mark.

This brilliant Mexican Fritillary is the first I've seen in quite a while.

All total we only saw eleven species of butterflies in two and a half hours.  But we saw some other interesting stuff.  This large robberfly is pretty imposing.

I did not know that Greater Earless Lizard occurred in the RGV.  But after checking the field guide after getting home I found their range extends into Starr County which is where we were.

We also saw a number of hard to find Tamaulipan thorn forest plants like Bernardia myricifolia, Chomonque and a new one for me, Barreta (Helietta parviflora).  So we decided when they get some more rain out there we'll return.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Silver Emperor at NBC, 6/17/14

It's been hot and dry lately with few butterflies, but I figured I would head on over to the National Butterfly Center anyway cuz I'm not going to see much just sitting around the house.  When I arrived Marianna told me Louie had just seen a female Silver Emperor.  Well it took me nearly four hours of wandering around and sweating profusely but she finally showed up on bait log #2.  What a beauty!  I had seen one years ago at Santa Ana but these are my first photos.  I was surprised how big it is.

Down in the ditch seemed to be the most productive place to get mosquito bitten and find interesting butterflies.  Second place today goes to this Two-barred Flasher.

Another good bug in the ditch was this surprise Soldier.  I have not seen one in months.

And yet another ditch denizen was this shade loving Fawn-spotted skipper, another species I have not seen lately.

The biggest surprise in the ditch was a cluster of twenty two Dusky-blue Groundstreaks all roosting at the base of a hackberry.  Pretty weird.  Eight are visible in this photo.

Back in the sunshine, I found this sharp female Red-bordered Metalmark, another species I have not seen in months.  This is really an underrated bug.

Here's a fresh Gray Hairstreak.

And I'll finish with a Crimson Patch on frogfruit.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

National Butterfly Center, 6/6/14

Four hours at the National Butterfly Center turned up 35 species.  There's lots of flowers in bloom and it's just a matter of time till something good shows up.  Best butterfly today was this Ornythion Swallowtail

It's been a while since I've seen a Common Streaky-Skipper.  This one seemed partial to landing on dead flower heads for perfect camouflage.

Lantana Scrub-Hairstreaks are showing up all over the RGV.  The winter rains were good for the their host plant, Texas Lantana.  Now I need to find one with black eyes.

There's been a few Crimson Patches around the park for the past few months.  Today I also saw several of their caterpillars.

The snake herbs have had a good colony of Cyna Blues this year.

And a really nice Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak

And here's our dragonfly for the day, a very cool Flag-tailed Spinylegs.  Members of the family Gomphidae are referred to as clubtails and this one has one heck of a club.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Yturria Brush, 6/2/14

This morning I ran over to Yturria Brush tract of the Lower Rio Grande NWR to look for the Varied Buntings seen by Bill Supulski and John Rosford last week.  Well I struck out on Varied Buntings but I saw some great bugs.  One of my first butterflies for the morning was this Nysa Roadside-Skipper.

I checked out the checkered-skippers hoping to find a Desert Checkered-Skipper and eventually saw several of them.  The plain underwing with the costal double dot is a good field mark.

White Checkered-Skippers were also common.

I saw a skipper fly by with a lot of white on the upperside and figured it was just another White Checkered Skipper.  But when I focused my camera on it, I was surprised to see it was an Erichson's White-Skipper, only my second ever.  It was just a tiny bit larger than the checkered skippers.

Then there was a Turk's Cap White-Skipper.

The interesting skippers just kept a coming.  I saw three Texas Powdered-Skippers.

Here's a sharp Common Sootywing.

These two mating long-horned beetles are pretty amazing.  I will spend some some on Bug Guide to try to ID them.  (Well I did some research and these are South Texas Bumelia Borers Plinthocoelium schwarzi)

This looks like some kind of blister beetle.  (I did some more research and this blister beetle is Epicauta immaculata.)

I can't refuse the photogenic Halloween Pennants.

And I finally saw my first RGV Four-striped Leaftail.  I saw several but getting a photo wasn't easy.

I missed getting a photo of one of the best butterflies, Two-barred Flasher.  I shall return.