Sunday, October 28, 2012

October 15, 2012 Butterfly Monitoring

The water along the marsh was extremely high on this somewhat hazy morning, and the butterflies were plentiful in the grasses that were not standing in water.   
We observed numerous wading birds, and a wood stork drying its wings perched high in a tree.  

Large stalks of muhly grass were blooming along the shoreline.
The spanish needle (Bidens pilosa) were blooming throughout the transect A.

We observed Salt marsh skippers, (Panoquina panoquin), almost too many to count (but we did our best).  We saw Ocola and Whirlabout skippers too.  All are of the family Hesperiidae.


Ocola Skipper
The Ocola skipper (Panoquina ocola) has forewings projecting far beyond the hindwings when the butterfly is at rest. The upperside of their wings is dark brown;  the underside of the hindwing is brown with no markings; the female has a blue-purple iridescent sheen. Adults nectar from  lantana, spanish needle, milkweed, and buttonbush. The Salt Marsh Skipper has a similar shape to the Ocola Skipper, but the hindwing undersides have pale veins and a prominent white streak. They nectar from flowers including sweet pepperbush, red clover, salt marsh fleabane, thistle, and verbena. 
Salt Marsh Skipper
The Whirlabout skipper (Polites vibex) is named for the speed and direction in which it flies. Their larval host plants include 
Bermuda grass, St. Augustine grass , and Thin Paspalum grass.

Whirlabout Skipper
Common Buckeye
The Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) in the family Nymphalidae, soars like and eagle.   We observed this behavior today along our transect.  Several mating pairs were seen. 

Among the larger orange and black butterflies in the family Nymphalidae, the Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae), Florida Monarch (Danaus plexippus) and Viceroy (Limenitis archippus) with wingspans from 2.5-3.0" were seen today. The subtle physical differences between these species can be seen in the photos.
Viceroy Butterfly
Willows serve as hostplants for the adult Viceroy.  They feed on manure and carrion. 
Female Monarch
Monarchs are strong fliers. They often flap slowly and then glide. They rest with their wings folded, but bask with them open.  
Male Monarch
Gulf Frittilary
Gulf fritillaries prefer the nectar of red and white flowers, such as Spanish needles and Lantana.
The small Phaon Crescent (Phyciodes phaon) is often seen on frog fruit (Phyla nodiflora)  a nectar plant in the Verbena Family, and we saw several today. This species has a wingspan of 1-1.5"
Fog Fruit and Phaon Crescent 

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