Thursday, April 28, 2016

April 25, 2016 Butterfly Monitoring

A warm light breeze, plentiful sunshine and tiny blooms on patches of green ground cover welcomed our native butterflies to the diverse habitats at the GTM Research Reserve.
In Transect A, along the Guana River / Guana Lake past the dam, the rarely seen Black Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio polyxenes) was among them, as well as a Queen (Danaus gilippus), a Dainty Sulphur, (Nathalis iole) Cloudless Sulphurs (Phoebis sennae), Phaon Crescents (Phyciodes phaon) nectaring on Hop-clover (Trifolium Campestre),  a Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia), numerous Great Southern Whites (Ascia monuste), many of the latter species flying in frantic circles upward to the tree tops,traveling in groups of three!  The Salt Marsh Skipper (Panoquina panoquin), with its prominent white streak on the hind wing, was also present along with Ceraunus Blue (Hemiargus ceraunus) with its single spot on the hind wing.  In the Uplands transects (Transects B, C, and D) Great Southern Whites were also encountered as well as the annual spring visitor Viola’s Wood Satyr (Megisto cymbals). Great Southern Whites use Saltwort (Batis maritime) as a host plant for their caterpillars; this plant is abundant within the GTM Research Reserve habitats, which could account for the high numbers of this species. 
Great Southern White

Salt Marsh Skipper
Dainty Sulphur
Viola's Wood Satyr


Black Swallowtail Caterpillar
Water Dropwort
We rarely see caterpillars during our Butterfly monitoring excursions, but on this day we encountered a Black Swallowtail caterpillar on a sprig of Water Dropwort, a plant in the carrot family.   When tickled by a human finger, this little caterpillar raised its antennae and emitted a repellant odor, which we all had a chance to sniff - strange and unique, not pleasant!
We don't count caterpillars on our Florida Butterfly Monitoring Network survey, but it sure was interesting to see one especially of this species.

Other Wildlife Observed
We rescued an Eastern Glass Lizard (Ophisaurus ventralis) that was caught on the concrete steps near the dam, and we all got a good look before releasing it in the adjacent grassy area.  We also saw a Racerunner (Cnemidophorus sexlineatus) slithering through the grass.

Eastern Glass Lizard (Ophisaurus ventralis) 
Racerunner Lizard

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