Sunday, August 31, 2014

National Butterfly Center, 8/31/14

Well the RGV finally got some rain and the National Butterfly Center south of Mission is looking good. Butterfly numbers are still low but I expect to see things pick up in the coming weeks.  Best bug today goes to this Silver-banded Hairstreak.

Fiery Skippers have really increased since a week ago.  There's quite a difference between the sexes.  The first is the male.

Finally saw a Turk's-cap White-Skipper.

Celia's Roadside-Skippers have also increased.  I saw six today after seeing none a week ago.

I chase down every Little Yellow hoping to find a Mimosa Yellow and finally got one today.

Separating Julia's and Eufala Skippers can be a challenge.  Julia's is usually browner or more golden but I find Jan Dauphin's "eyebrow rule" to be equally helpful.  Eufala always has a big gleaming white eyebrow that goes all the way forward above the eye.

While Julia's eyebrow is much less distinct.

I thought I had a big "white" flopping around high up in the tree tops but I couldn't tell which it was.  So I fired a bunch a photos.  I was disappointed to find it was just a female Large Orange Sulphur.

  • Pipevine Swallowtail 10
  • Giant Swallowtail 4
  • Southern Dogface 2
  • Large Orange Sulphur 3
  • Lyside Sulphur 5
  • Little Yellow 4
  • Mimosa Yellow 1
  • Silver-banded Hairstreak 1
  • Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak 3
  • Ceraunus Blue 2
  • American Snout 1
  • Gulf Fritillary 3
  • Zebra Heliconian 4
  • Phaon Crescent 5
  • Empress Leilia 1
  • Tawny Emperor 4
  • Queen 30
  • Soldier 1
  • White Checkered-Skipper 7
  • Tropical Checkered-Skipper 3
  • Laviana White-Skipper 5
  • Turk's-cap White-Skipper 1
  • Julia's Skipper 1
  • Clouded Skipper 6
  • Southern Skipperling 2
  • Fiery Skipper 12
  • Celia's Roadside-Skipper 6
  • Eufala Skipper 4

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Trouble in paradise, 8/5/14

Our little butterfly garden at home has a problem.  The past two weeks of triple digit temperatures has really precipitated a decrease in butterflies.  An at the same time, the number of predators has stayed the same or possibly even increased.  After watching a red wasp kill and eat my only Black Swallowtail caterpillar this spring, I've declared war on any I see in my yard.  But they're not the only problem.  I've always had lots of Green anoles in the yard, but now they've migrated to the butterfly garden.  This one boldly snapped up a Fiery Skipper right in front of me.

So what to do?  I've been thinking about capturing them and releasing them elsewhere.  But then there's another problem, the exotic Brown Anoles have invaded our yard in the past year and I'm seeing babies. This morning I saw a confrontation between a Brown Anole and our native Green anole.  After the Brown Anole displayed the Green chased it away.  

So if I get rid of my Green Anoles, I may be losing my best defense against the Brown Anoles.  I have loved lizards since I was a small child so I really enjoy watching them.  I just hate to see them eating my butterflies. Meanwhile there's been plenty of Band-winged Dragonlets around this year.  Are they eating butterflies? Probably some.

But they haven't eaten all the butterflies.  I found this little Celia's Roadside-Skipper in the shade on the foundation of our house.

This nice Eufala Skipper is the first I've seen in our yard for a while.

These Little Yellows are trying their best to beef up our butterfly population.

I glimpsed this one yesterday and managed a weak photo this morning.  Our first Brown-banded Skipper, butterfly #85 for our yard.

I just saw the Brown-banded Skipper again and it was hanging out by the Barbados cherry which is the host plant for the species so maybe we can get some more (if the darn lizards don't eat them).

Sunday, August 3, 2014

National Butterfly Center, 8/3/14

During the past two weeks triple digit temperatures have really knocked down the butterflies at the National Butterfly Center and across the RGV.  Best bug today goes to this sharp White Angled Sulphur.

There wasn't too much worth mentioning except there were tons of Queens on the Gregg's mistflower and on the butterfly milkweed..

So here's today's list.

 Pipevine Swallowtail 1
  • Giant Swallowtail 1
  • Southern Dogface 1
  • White Angled-Sulphur 1
  • Large Orange Sulphur 1
  • Lyside Sulphur 10
  • Little Yellow 2
  • Gray Hairstreak 1
  • Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak 2
  • Dusky-blue Groundstreak 1
  • Ceraunus Blue 1
  • Zebra Heliconian 2
  • Texan Crescent 1
  • Vesta Crescent 1
  • Phaon Crescent 8
  • White Peacock 2
  • Tawny Emperor 12
  • Queen 250
  • Soldier 4
  • Brown Longtail 8
  • White Checkered-Skipper 5
  • Tropical Checkered-Skipper 5
  • Laviana White-Skipper 6
  • Clouded Skipper 3
  • Fiery Skipper 2
  • Celia's Roadside-Skipper 1

I did pick up the 84th butterfly for our yard a few days ago; this cute little Common Mellana.