These are tiny moths – less than half an inch long – that I found on the driveway. They were with large fluttering groups of butterflies, all sucking up the salt and minerals left from evaporating rainwater, dead animals and animal scat. Usually the moths or butterflies doing this are males, and the salts are used in mating. Continue reading
We finally got some rain – 1.6 inches in about a day and a half. Good for the plants, but bad for butterfly watching. Some friends came over to see the butterflies but it rained the whole time they were here. Continue reading
I’m feeling completely steeped in Cecropias – I had 17 cocoons and almost all of them have hatched this week – two or three a day. Continue reading
Yesterday Mike and I had one of the Cecropia cages open, taking pictures of one of the moths, when another moth started emerging! I’d never seen one emerge before – they do it very quickly – it took less than a minute. I took pictures of it, and thought I would post the whole sequence. Continue reading
The Cecropias have started hatching – I have 17 cocoons and the first one hatched on June 12, exactly the same date as my first one hatched last year. The first 5 were males so I released a couple in St. Paul and the rest at the farm. Continue reading
The Polyphemus caterpillars have hatched – 10 days after they were laid. Continue reading
There have been even more butterflies this week – the numbers of butterflies on the driveway usually build up until about the beginning of July when there are so many that clouds of them fly up in our faces as we walk. We’re not quite there yet, but one day this week I saw 24 Red-spotted Purples as we walked down the driveway at the end of our walk.
I saw several Giant Swallowtails – at least one along the driveway through the wetland, and two more in Hidden Oaks meadow.
I’ve seen many more Monarchs than last year – it’s nice that their population seems to be recovering from the big storms that devastated their wintering areas a few years ago. Here’s one nectaring on Golden Alexander.
I’m still trying to figure out what kind of caterpillar this is – I think it’s either a Silvery Checkerspot or a Gorgone Checkerspot. Both caterpillars eat sunflower leaves and the photos and descriptions are almost exactly the same. It’s difficult to get a good photograph because they’re so small.
Last week I found dozens of them on the upper leaves of sunflowers along one of our farm roads. This week there weren’t as many, but I still found a few. I collected a couple and let them make their chrysalises in a jar so I can see the butterflies when they emerge. Here’s one of the chrysalises.
And here’s another
I still don’t know if they’re the same or different species. Both caterpillars looked the same to me. The chrysalises may be different because they were made on different surfaces – the first is on a green leaf, the second is on the screen at the top of the jar.
The fawns are getting bigger – now some of them are big enough to run after their mothers. Here’s one who ran into the woods to hide.
There’s a bit of a lull in the prairie blooms right now, but there are starting to be seeds to collect. White Wild Indigo and Spiderwort are the two flowers that started blooming this week.
White Wild Indigo (Baptisia alba)
Spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis)
I was pursuing a nice butterfly when I nearly stepped on a Wood Frog – right in the middle of the driveway. I took its picture and then shooed it away into the bushes so it would be safer.
Here’s an odd creature – it looks like a cocoon made of bits of plants. It’s about half an inch long and on the underside of a sedge leaf in a sunny part of the wetland. I suspect it’s a cocoon made by one of the moth caterpillars that has lots of long hairs – I think I read that some of them add the hairs to their cocoons. I’ve sent the photo to Margot to get her opinion.
We spent several days grading the driveway. The township has an ancient road grader which is pulled behind a tractor. One person (me) drives the tractor and the other person (Mike) stands on the wooden platform on the back of the grader and turns the wheels to raise and lower and tilt the blade at the right angle. It’s fun, and we got better at it as we went along, but it’s a slow dusty process. (This photo was actually taken a few years ago – the last time we used the road grader – which is why it looks like early spring.)
I stopped at Willow Bend, a bend in the creek where the beavers have built a dam. The pool behind the dam is huge this year, full of frogs and buzzing with dragonflies. I sat and watched and listened to all the activity.
There were at least 6 or 8 Arctic Skippers, and several other kinds of skippers but they didn’t want their pictures taken.
This is Sping Cress, a small spring native that grows in wet places under the alder bushes in the wetland.
Buffalo Ridge Prairie doesn’t have many flowers yet, but lots of prairie plants are growing – most of the clumps you can see are prairie plants.
Here’s a view of the Western Field – the part that’s planted in corn this year. The corn hasn’t come up yet, but the weeds are blooming enthusiastically. In two more years all this will be prairie.
Here are a few more of this week’s butterflies.
Silver Spotted Skipper – top view
and here’s the more common view – the underside of its wings – with the silver spot.
Question Mark Butterfly
This is the underside of the Question Mark with the silver question mark on the wing.
Mourning Cloak Butterflies (Nymphalis antiopa) are large butterflies – about the size of monarchs. They have dark brown velvety wings with a line of blue spots and a yellow band along the outer edge of their wings. Continue reading