Posts Tagged ‘predator’

Predator – Butterfly

Several pearl crescent butterflies visit the sedum plants in the moon garden.

They concentrate more on eating than watching out for predators.

It’s hard to see from the angle of the camera that there’s a predator behind the wings on the right. This time it’s an ambush bug.

  The ambush bugs are only up to 1/2 inch long, and can change color to match the color of the flower they’re on.

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A Passing Spicebush Swallowtail

So few butterflies have visited our backyard this summer. Their numbers have been the lowest I’ve ever seen.

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So, I got excited when a spicebush swallowtail flew across our backyard on its way south. It didn’t stop.

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Our yard’s been full of them at times over the years … them and many other butterfly species too.

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A butterfly in an odd position usually means it’s in the clutches of a predator.

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In this case it was a female crab spider.

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Females are much bigger than the males.

Crab spiders have the ability to change color to match the color of the flower they’re on. Obviously, this one hadn’t changed yet. I have no idea how long the change takes.

Red Spotted Purple Caterpillars

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This morning started with watching a female red-spotted purple butterfly laying eggs in a young wild cherry tree.

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The female taps the leaves with her feet to be sure she’s in the right tree. Butterflies smell with their feet.

The egg on the left is definitely the egg of a red-spotted purple butterfly. Something’s not right with the egg on the tip of the leaf.

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This young wild cherry tree almost gets lost among all the other nearby growth nearby. All these pictures were taken in it.

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The caterpillar measured 5mm. The three I found were all approximately the same size. They usually dangle a small cluster of leaf pieces to attract attention away from the caterpillar. The predator must be an immature, just like the caterpillar.

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 The position of the caterpillar looks like it’s either paralyzed or dead.

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This last caterpillar looks a tad odd: maybe it just molted. What looks like antennae, is a split from the drying vein of the leaf.  The way the leaf is cut away, the bare center vein and the dangling leaf pieces are definitely done by the caterpillar of red-spotted purple butterfly.

Predation

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Crab spiders have the ability to change color to match that of the flower they’re on. In this case, it’s among wingstem flowers. This is a female crab spider. Males are much smaller.

Her prey looks like a tachina fly.

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Here’s another example of predation:

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I blogged this chrysalis earlier this summer. It was attached to the side of our garbage container.

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It belonged to a tawny emperor butterfly.

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A couple of weeks later another chrysalis was attached to the side of the container. I knew it was parasitized when it started turning dark.

Then came even another predator.

Thorny Caterpillars

Question mark butterflies lay their eggs in hackberry and elm trees.

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I just happened to be in the right place at the right time to spot these caterpillars on the underside of an elm leaf.

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The spines would definitely be a deterrent to predators.

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Question mark butterflies have a silver question mark on the underside of their hindwings. Comma butterflies are similar in appearance and have a comma on the underside of theirs.

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Question mark and comma butterflies both have a summer and a fall form. This is the fall form of the question mark. The picture above of the darker one on the rock shows the summer form

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This shows the question mark on its hindwing.

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This picture shows the fall form of the comma butterfly. I couldn’t one that showed the comma on the underneath side.

Interesting Ants

I’ve been redesigning my reflexology stone path recently, and have spent a lot of time sitting near the catalpa tree in my special place.

During all this, I noticed ants on two exposed roots, and going up and down the tree.

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Why? What’s up there for the ants?

I started to remove the seeds from a pod so I could remove the papery covering down to the actual seed. A silky web covered what I thought at first was an egg mass.

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Cropping showed they were larval cocoons. They’re like eggs only much larger.

I have a new book: Tracks & Sign of Insects and Other Invertebrates by Charley Eiseman and Noah Charney.

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The larval cocoons were gone the next morning. I wasn’t sure, but it looked like a predator found them.

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The small form on the left looked like a larva.

At least I solved the mystery of why the ants hurried up and down the catalpa tree.

A Damselfly

I can’t believe I spotted this tiny damselfly.

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Its abdomen looked copper colored in the light. The fake eyespots on the back of its head would sure look convincing to any predator, even though the damselfly measured an inch at the most.