Posts Tagged ‘red spotted purple’

Strange Spider Web

This dead pear tree has quite a history.

IMG_8761

Now it houses a spider whose web is about 3 feet high in the tree.

IMG_8767

The silk is so fine the web would be hard to spot if it wasn’t for the “stuff” in it. The “stuff” looks like sawdust. Woodpeckers do visit the tree and “sawdust” would fall when there was activity above … or the spider added it when spinning the web.

IMG_8764

These three pictures of the web weren’t taken on the same day.

IMG_8835 crop

It was an active place when the tree was alive and producing fruit. I have no idea what’s included in the “stuff” in the line … unless it’s somehow young spiders. (They are spider egg cases.)

IMG_4524

The pears would rot and drop when the tree was alive. The rotten fruit then attracted many, many butterflies and other insects  too.

IMG_4448

Red-spotted purple butterflies visited flowers.

IMG_4459

The viceroy resembles a monarch, only the monarch lacks the extra black band on the hindwing.

IMG_4407

Besides the rotten fruit, the hackberry butterflies will also visit animal droppings and carrion.

IMG_4473

A question mark butterfly joined the hackberries. If you look close, you’ll see a faint gold upside-down question mark in the middle of its hindwing.

IMG_4569

The buckeye butterflies have an eye spot on the top of the forewing and two spots of different sizes on their hindwing.

I plan to enjoy the pear tree until it’s all fallen down.

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.

IMG_0148

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

IMG_0170

Tawny emperor (a ragged one)

128 crop two

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.

IMG_0046

Red spotted purple

IMG_0422

Most are hackberry butterflies.

IMG_0525

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.

img_1561

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

Red Spotted Purple Caterpillars

IMG_6444 crop

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

IMG_6459 crop

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.

IMG_6464 crop red

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

IMG_6779 crop

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.

IMG_6811 crop

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

 IMG_6842 crop red

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.

Surprise Observation

IMG_8277

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.

IMG_3260 crop

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.

IMG_0329 red

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.

IMG_1200. crop

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.

IMG_1503 crop red

The caterpillar’s pattern changes as it grows.

IMG_7798 red

This caterpillar is full grown and ready to pupate.

——–

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

Pear Tree Remants

A strong wind blew all night and all day.

IMG_1413 red

I had just picked up all the fallen branches out of this dead pear tree yesterday. Today’s wind broke off  branches, limbs and even one of the trunks.

This tree was one of my favorites because of all the butterflies the rotting pears attracted.

IMG_1495 crop red

Lichens growing on the tree attract my attention now. I decided to just enjoy and not try to identify them.

IMG_1471 red

IMG_1518 crop red

IMG_1506 crop red

—————-

—————-

sap flow gathering red

The pears rotting and their attracting butterflies was one of the highlights of summer. All the butterflies above are hackberry butterflies, except the top one which is a question mark.

viceroy and rs purple on one pear red

Red spotted purple on the left and a viceroy on the right. Viceroys have an extra black band on their hindwing that the monarch lacks.

.

buckeye red

Common buckeye

The pears also attracted bees, wasps, night flying moths and ants to name a few.

So, obviously, I miss the pear tree being alive.

Now that I’m starting to learn lichens, I hope the tree stands for many more years.

A Naturalist Learns …..

I always find it more fun to learn from observations than from a book. The information stays with me much longer when I have the memory and the direct observation.

 IMG_7795 crop red

Some caterpillars, like this red-spotted caterpillar, mimic bird droppings.

IMG_7802 crop red

 I doubt if this would appear very appetizing to a bird.

 IMG_7900 crop

The caterpillars of the red-spotted purple and viceroy butterflies closely resemble each other. I don’t understand why this one is red.

Red-spotted purples lay their eggs in wild cherry, apple, and willow trees.

Viceroys lay theirs in willow, wild cherry and poplar.

The adults of both species feed on flowers and also at sap flows, decaying fruit, carrion and animal droppings.

IMG_7837 crop red

Both species overwinter as partially-grown caterpillars. The 4th instar caterpillar cuts off all of a leaf except near the base and spins silk back and forth across the top of it. As the silk dries, it curls the remaining leaf into this tube.

 IMG_7840 crop red

The half-inch caterpillar spends the winter in diapause (a pause in its development). It might come outside the tube on an overly-warm winter day.

(I wrote this blog  in the fall. Predators got the caterpillars, so, I didn’t get to see if any survived winter.)

 IMG_7029 crop red

This red-spotted purple emerged from its chrysalis (which I didn’t witness).

 IMG_7015 crop red

 Apparently, it couldn’t, or didn’t get in an upside-down position so its wings would fully open before they dried. It kept trying.

It must have flown off, because I didn’t see it again.

 IMG_5964 red

Viceroy butterflies mimic the monarch butterfly. They have an extra black band on their hindwing that the monarchs don’t. Monarch are bigger, and their wings are shaped differently.

Surviving Arctic-like Winters

IMG_8277 red

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

IMG_7837 crop red

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

IMG_7312 crop red

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 —

IMG_1226 crop red

mourning cloak,

IMG_0657 crop red

eastern comma,

IMG_0122 crop red

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?