Between the lull of monarch seasons—I’m awaiting their return but we did see one at the zoo the other day—there is plenty of other activity in the lepidopteran world. Here’s just a sample–I’m seeing plenty of others I just don’t have my camera on me lately. And these are all phone photos–I’m sad to admit I’m blogging with phone photos!!! Time to pick up the big camera or even the point and shoot a bit more than my phone.
I noticed a beautiful butterfly bouncing along the agastache on the side yard garden last week. I took a few crappy phone photos in the shadowed filled area over there but knew I wouldn’t do anything with them beyond maybe identifying the butterfly later. But then I moved towards the main area of the garden and it (or another one) fluttered over into the sunlight on the banana leaves and offered up a much better photo opportunity.
I still have not bought a good butterfly book for our region so I ended up pulling out my Butterflies through Binoculars: Florida book and flipped to the skippers. A long-tailed skipper! Sweet!
Then, in the garden over the weekend I saw some bean leaves rolled up. I peered in and remembered seeing them last year and I even looked them up last year but I hadn’t put two and two together—my bean leaf roller was the larval stage of the long-tailed skipper! They are also utilizing the same bean plants they used last year, the ‘Dragon Tongue’ beans—the other beans I have aren’t being used. Very interesting!
For several weeks now Chris has been telling me something is rolling up in the alligator flag, Thalia geniculata, down by the pond. I hadn’t ventured down there until one evening while Forest was painting at the picnic table. I took a few photos but didn’t open up a leaf nest enough to really get a good photo. My quick search online suggests this is the work of the Brazilian skipper. I’ll have to do some more stalking down by the pond with a better camera soon.
On my way back from the pond I noticed a moth fluttering around the yard. It was distinctive enough to find in my moth book and I knew it was a hummingbird/hawk moth of some kind so that narrowed it down to the Nessus sphinx. Very cool! Looks like the host plants for these are grape vine, pepper vine, Virginia creeper, and pepper plants. Another interesting find!
This beauty I did not see in person, much to my sad dismay. Chris texted it to me while I was desk bound at work while he was in the field. Sometime he sends me photos from the field and I’m always jealous of the things he’s finding. *I need to get out of the office more*.
And these sweet things are decidedly not lepidopterans, however they have been very adorable to watch around the yard the last few weeks as they chow down on plants. I took this as I pulled into the driveway after work one day. There are five, one is on the other side of the fence.
The gulf fritillaries returned in mid to late June and have been laying eggs on the passiflora vines. I’m starting to get caterpillars, too, and have decided to try to raise a few. I have three late instar sized caterpillars and one second instar caterpillar. If these do well I may scout out for more until the monarchs arrive.