Fall, On the Pond

Even though green is still the predominant leaf color here, you can find a little color out there in spots...




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It's hot and sunny out today and the reflections on the water are mirror-perfect. Why would anyone want to be anywhere else?

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Weather Woes and Butterflies

Rain, again. We are beyond soggy at this point. The only thing that has saved us from total saturation is the very dry summer we have had. But seriously, I find nearly 19 inches of rain in one week to be a bit much... High water has caused the work swamp to be closed to the public and has forced me to cancel first my spider hike and now my butterfly hike. Bummer. To brighten my otherwise gray day, I have decided to post a few pictures I took yesterday when the sun was bright and the sky was seriously blue --

Pearl Crescent, Phyciodes tharos
"Ubiquitous" might be the term I would choose to describe this little butterfly. It was one of the first I learned to ID -- probably because every other butterfly I saw seemed to be a Pearl. They are generalists and quite successful at making a living, at least along the east coast. Got asters? Then you probably have Pearl Crescents -- unless you are way up there where my friend Maineiac lives. She's much more likely to have Northern Crescents.

Red-banded Hairstreak, Calycopis cecrops
Here's another butterfly that is easy to ID and likes to hang out in open areas and along edges. It is often associated with sumacs and wax myrtles among other plants, but the female tends to lay her eggs on "the underside of fallen hostplant leaves" according to Butterflies of the East Coast by Cech and Tudor. So, do the larvae eat detritus on the ground or do they make their way to a living hostplant? Apparently it depends on exactly where the eggs were laid.

Monarch, Danaus plexippus
This is one just about everyone knows. It has been the topic of many a research project ever since it was discovered that Monarchs migrate. One just doesn't expect that from a butterfly ;)

Red-spotted Purple, Limenitis arthemis astyanax
I was amazed to see that this butterfly could still fly. It was so tattered and torn that it seemed like it should just fall out of the sky. But no, it got around pretty well. Inspiring.
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I'm off to check the rain gauge...


An Unhoppy Toad

He's toadally disgusted with me for taking his picture...

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After days of unrelenting rain we finally have a nice sunny Saturday. The remnants of Nicole managed to dump about 18 inches of rain on us over the course of 3.5 days. I have pictures of the high water, but then again, everyone has pictures of the high water. So instead of flooded roads and swollen waterways, I choose to share some caterpillars with you. A walk around the yard this morning revealed three luna moth caterpillars - the first one a bit more mature than the other two...

Treebeard first spotted this fine fat fellow yesterday as we were coming up the driveway. It was a good ways off the driveway and I asked Treebeard how he spotted it. His answer, it was the wrong shade of green for the tree it was in...
When I looked up the host plants for this caterpillar I discovered it has a taste for many different types of trees "...but with decided local preferences..." according to Caterpillars of Eastern North America by David L. Wagner. We found the first caterpillar munching contentedly on an oak. The last two were on the same sweetgum.
This last one was way up high overhead. I like the way the green of the caterpillar stands out against the blue of the sky...
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