Posts Tagged ‘question mark’

Yum Yum

I wrote this blog earlier and didn’t get it posted. I’d rather post it now instead of waiting until next summer.

This is one of my favorite times of the year, when the fruit rots when I put it out for the butterflies. Some summers the butterfly numbers are low, and others they’re just the opposite.

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The one above is a question mark. You can tell by the small gold question mark on the underside of its hindwing.

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Tawny emperor (a ragged one)

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The red admiral butterfly has visited the rotting fruit. It didn’t pose for a picture, so I had to find one in my picture files.

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Red spotted purple

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Most are hackberry butterflies.

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Five tawny emperors, one viceroy (orange one that resembles a monarch butterfly), and a red spotted purple. There’s usually butterflies on the fruit for several hours, unless it’s raining.

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Their numbers continued to increase until now when only  10 – 15 visit a day

Chain of Events

I was walking along the back side of my moon garden when

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this male dun skipper landed nearby and allowed me to creep closer for pictures.

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A cabbage white butterfly landed in the middle of a mint, and posed for me to take its picture too.

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And then a question mark butterfly landed close enough that I didn’t have to move to take its picture.

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The narrow tails and the small silver question mark on its hindwing identify it. The comma butterfly has wider tails, a comma on its hindwings, and its wings have a more jagged edge.

I was stooped down taking more pictures of butterfly above… when…

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this dragonfly landed right in front of me. It surprised me, especially with such vivid colors. A little research turned up what I saw. The vivid colors occur on the dragonflies (imago) when they emerge.

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The colors then turn darker as they dry.

This was the first imago I’ve  seen through all my years and years of nature study. Needless to say, I was so  excited.

 

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.

Surviving Arctic-like Winters

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The red-spotted purple butterfly overwinters as a 3rd instar caterpillar.

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Will the caterpillars survive the one Arctic blast after another that we’re having this winter?

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I went out this afternoon to check where I knew four red-spotted caterpillars were hibernating.  A predator had chewed into the side of each hibernaculum and gotten every  caterpillar.

Then I remembered the overwintering adult butterflies in our area —

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mourning cloak,

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eastern comma,

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and question mark,

  They spend the winter in places like under loose bark. One cold winter I watched a golden crowned kinglet flitting around in a cedar tree. It came out with a question mark butterfly. I remember hearing and watching it knocking the butterfly on a limb to break its wings off.

Butterflies and moths overwinter in different stages of their metamorphosis — egg, caterpillar, chrysalis/pupa and adult. It will be interesting to see population numbers next summer.

Anyway, I wonder if there is a limit to how cold they can tolerate?