Archive for the ‘Insects’ Category

Spring Azure Butterfly at Grassi Bog

Monday, April 21st, 2014

Spring Azure Butterfly (Celastrina ladon) at Mass. SouthCoast Bog

Mid-afternoon today, April 21st, as we completed our survey of Grassi Bog on Massachusetts SouthCoast, Turtle Journal’s Sue Wieber Nourse spotted a small, bluish butterfly flittering near the wetlands edge.  Yes, we are turtle researchers, herpetologists or perhaps even turtlologists.  But when you spend your life in the field, you make all sorts of discoveries that are not limited by arbitrary boundaries and definitions.  The bounds of Turtle Journal’s interest encompass the entire scope of Nature.  So, yes; we were quite taken by this beautiful and delicate little creature.  (Click on images for enlargement.)

Spring Azure Butterfly (Celastrina ladon)

We snapped pictures of the butterfly as it alit on Don Lewis’ finger with our Pentax Optio W60 underwater camera with a special 1 cm macro lens.  With all the expensive cameras that Turtle Journal lugs around to capture the world of Nature, nothing has served us better for detailed closeup field photography.

Spring Azure Butterfly (Celastrina ladon)

Checking reference books on our return to Turtle Journal headquarters, we identified the critter as a Spring Azure Butterfly (Celastrina laden). According to Butterflies and Moths of North America, the upper side of males are blue.  Males are most active from mid-afternoon until dusk, the period when we found this specimen.

Spring Azure Butterfly (Celastrina ladon)

The habitat for the Spring Azure Butterfly is described as “openings and edges of deciduous woods, old fields, wooded freshwater marshes and swamps;” a perfect description of the long abandoned and flooded Grassi Bog.  Now that we have met this delicate butterfly, the Turtle Journal team will keep a sharp eye out for more specimens.

What’s the Buzz?

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

As we wade reluctantly into the chilly waters of autumn, this moment seems ripe for a celebration of those last warm, sun-filled days when the buzz around the Cape was a real buzz around the Cape.  Pause for a moment and join some busy bees for a deep sip of summer’s sweet nectar.

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Bees Take a Last Sip of Summer Nectar

And now for the less warming news.  We found our first woolly bear this week and it seemed wrapped thickly in a heavy winter coat.  If we really believed those old folk tales about predicting the harshness of the season-to-come based on the quality of the woolly bear coat, we would be storing firewood by the cord.

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Woolly Bear

Monarchs of the SouthCoast

Friday, September 19th, 2008

Monarch Butterflies Feast on Golden Rod for Long Journey

September on the SouthCoast opens a window into the endless, cyclical, multigenerational migration of monarch butterflies from the Great White North to Mexico and back again.  We’re told that it takes two generations each way or four generations for the complete migration cycle.  How fortunate we are to witness one end of this epic flight as monarchs feast on milkweed and golden rod in the coastal fields along Cape Cod and Buzzards Bay.  Today, as we walked the trail at Mass Audubon’s Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary in Dartmouth, we came across several monarchs sipping golden nectar to garner strength for the long journey ahead.

Monarch Butterfly at Allen’s Pond Wildlife Sanctuary

This same time last season at Demarest Lloyd State Park also in Dartmouth, we happened upon a large flock of monarchs preparing to kick off their migration southward.

Monarchs Preparing for Migration at Demarest Lloyd State Park (2007)

Attack of the Praying Mantis

Friday, September 19th, 2008

Strolling down the beach road off Mass Audubon’s Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary, we caught sight of a praying mantis crossing in front of us.  Its sand colored topside with greenish head and wings blended perfectly with the beach sand roadway and we would have missed the critter entirely if it hadn’t been startled by our presence and darted for the dense abutting vegetation.  From the deserted, post-summer look of things along this stretch of Dartmouth beach, the praying mantis prettry much had the road to itself and expected no two-legged or four-wheeled creatures to intrude on its constant hunt for tasty treats among the lush salt marsh vegetation.

Praying Mantis at Allen’s Pond Wildlife Sanctuary

Despite its surprise, the praying mantis tolerated our intrusion … for the moment … as Sue scooped it from the road for a closer inspection.  It settled in her hand, assessed us as no threat, posed a bit for the camera and walked around her palm to assess these goofy humans who had stopped to make its acquaintance.

Meet the Praying Mantis

As the camera came in for a closeup, its patience with our interruption ended … or the praying mantis saw this shiny silver object as a potential tasty meal.  Whatever sparked its interest, the mantis went into full attack mode, first boxing with the camera as though a sparring partner, and then pouncing for the pin like a WWF wrestler.

Praying Mantis Attacks Camera

Once placed back on the ground, the praying mantis went about its business as though we had never existed, finding a perfectly camouflaged stalking spot on the stem of a golden rod, holding itself in seeming suspended animation as the stiff September breeze tossed the leaves to and fro, and waited … for some unsuspecting prey to stumble by or perhaps another pair of foolish humans to amuse and then abuse.

Flying Insect Ovipositing on Terrapin Nesting Dune

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Voracious and aggressive predators of just pipped diamondback terrapin hatchlings are insect maggots. A large percentage of terrapin nests are invaded by these maggots that destroy hatchlings before they can ever emerge. We have identified at least one species of these maggots. On Monday, 25 August, I observed this flying insect inspecting the tracks of recently emerged hatchlings and then ovipositing immediately atop these tracks on the terrapin nesting dune at Turtle Pass.

Wasp-Like Insect Ovipositing on Turtle Pass Dune