lepidoptera


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Nearly escaping notice: a small still moment
in a red-banded hairstreak’s day

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WordPress recently wished some little crum creek a happy 5th anniversary.
That’s hard to believe!  But unposted encounters do pile up over the years.
So it seems fitting to revisit some lingering conundrums.

For example, putting names to the various creatures here can be tricky.
To confirm this particular skipper (Hesperiidae family of butterflies),
I reached out to BAMONA.

Turns out to be a female sachem (Atalopedes campestris),
an early arrival on the butterfly bush back in May 2012.

Though I’ve not yet spotted one this spring,
we should have a pretty good idea of what to watch for!

 For help with skippers and other butterflies, the following sites have been great resources:

Skippers of the Northeast (excellent short videos)
Nature Photography by Bob Moul (incredible photo galleries)
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA, my go-to for verifying IDs)
Winged Beauty (Jeff’s pictures of skippers are just a part of his great project)

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[end of post]

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Unlike a pipevine swallowtail, the poisonous butterfly whose appearance it mimics,
and a dark form tiger swallowtail, which it also resembles, this spicebush swallowtail
displays two rows of orange spots on the underside of its wings

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 and opens its ivory-spotted, blue & black back to the sun along Little Crum Creek.

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Occasionally mowing rouses a colorful escapade before the mower’s blades,
such as the black and orange blur of a banded tiger moth’s flight,*

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which often ends with a moth wedging itself head first
between blades of grass where it lands.

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And so, briefly, I detained this one for the simple reason
of sharing the lively colors of a coming season.

*Reportedly moths of the Apantesis genus can be difficult to distinguish. But I’m winging it here and identifying this one as the banded tiger moth (Apantesis vittata) because of the solid black border of the hindwing (differentiating it from the often spotted black border of the harnessed tiger moth, Apantesis phalerata).  As always, corrections welcome!

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Though blending into the shadows over Little Crum Creek,
this dark form of the eastern tiger swallowtail stands out from the easily
identified yellow and black variety of her kind. Said to mimic
the pipevine swallowtail, whose chemistry dissuades predators,
the dark form is always female.

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Beside the compost, under the crabapple, beneath the pin oak,
barely the size of a leaf flake–clepsis peritana, the garden tortrix moth.

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Summer azure nectaring flower.
Summersweet going to seed.

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When not setting its spread wings above in trees, an occasional red-spotted purple
descends for the nectar of flowers, lending the butterfly bush its name.

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One enlightening way

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to welcome the start of spring…

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follow a mourning cloak butterfly

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through the sun of Little Crum Creek.

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Painted ladies might blend well with the powdered flowers of a butterfly bush.

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But they aren’t generally shy about a proper distinction.

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And I’m happy to oblige them on this late summer visit

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with a few flattering pictures.

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