Surprise Observation

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A red-spotted purple butterfly flew into the oak in our front yard. It made many short stops on different leaves, acting like it was looking for a place to lay an egg. Butterflies tap their front feet on the leaf to smell it.

Obviously, I didn’t take this picture today. She moved so fast I wasn’t even going to go out and try for pictures.

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I’ve never seen them lay eggs in oaks, but my butterfly books list oak as a host tree. It moved around in the tree so quickly that I couldn’t tell if it laid an egg or not.

Oak trees hybridize, so I’m not sure what kind this one is. I know it’s in the the black oak family because the leaves are bristle-tipped.

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The female lays her eggs singly on the tip of the leaf where predators aren’t likely to find it. Red-spotted purples their eggs in wild black cherry  and willow trees.

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The little caterpillar eats the leaf along the vein. It cuts off a piece of the leaf, leaving it to dangle and draw attention away from the caterpillar.

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The caterpillar’s pattern changes as it grows.

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This caterpillar is full grown and ready to pupate.

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It looks like I should occasionally check the oak leaves for red-spotted purple eggs and caterpillars.

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7 responses to this post.

  1. I’ll have to check the oaks and cherries here too. Great shot of the tiny egg!

    Reply

  2. Great series.

    Reply

  3. Fantastic captures, thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  4. great series, love your first photo, great detail and color!

    Reply

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