Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Common Green Darner (Anax junius)
April 15, 2008

A day of first sightings for 2008. I've never had a day when I've seen so many cool things combined with taking so few photographs – I spent much of the day trying to get close to Goatweed Leafwings (Anaea andria). They were jumpy enough that I was occasionally flushing them from 10-15 feet away.

For a list of first sightings of the year, I'll start with the one that felt the most like “summer's coming” -- Common Green Darner (Anax junius)! It's been a long 6 months – my last Missouri dragonfly was a Variegated Meadowhawk last October.

Another first for spring of 2008 was a Six-spotted Tiger Beetle (Cicindella sexguttata). And a few new butterflies (and a moth) for the year: Falcate Orangetip (Anthocharis midea), Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme), Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus), Henry's Elfin (Callophrys henrici), Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) and a Snowberry Clearwing (Hemaris diffinis) moth.

In addition to the easily startled leafwings, other butterfly behavior lead to the low number of photos. Butterflies were continually jumping up to chase other butterflies. At about 5:30 pm, there were several episodes of 5 individuals engaged in chases: a Painted Lady, a Red Admiral, and a Goatweed Leafwing taking turns at the front trailed by 2 unidentified spreadwing skippers.
Snow Flurries!!!???
April 13, 2008

That's just wrong!
April 9, 2008

We decided to join Randal Clark's wildflower walk tonight, but typical of this spring, wildflower sightings were scarce. Someone on the group found a very tiny caterpillar on gooseberry. Unfortunately, it kind of looked like rain, so I left without my camera – and even without my phone!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)
7 April, 2008

Saw a few butterflies for the first time this year – Spring Azures (Celestrina ladon) and a Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus). There were also quite a few moths (Caenurgina sp.) flying over mowed grass along the trail. I also found 2 blister beetles (Meloe sp.) on the trail.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Water Measurer (Hydrometra sp.)
5 April, 2008

SUN! After seemingly endless days of cloudy, rainy weather, we finally get a break.

I spent an hour and a half sitting at the edge of a pond watching water striders, backswimmers, water boatmen, and a variety of diving beetles. But the highlight came when I noticed a water measurer (Hydrometridae, Hydrometra sp.) walking across the water surface. It's the first time I've ever seen a member this family of insects other than in the Enns Entomology Museum. Maybe I haven't been looking closely enough, but in my defense, it was gray-brown and about the size of a sewing needle. While sitting at the pond, I heard an insect jump onto dried vegetation behind me. It was a froghopper (Cercopidae Lepyronia sp.)

I ended up with 5 butterfly species for the day – Cabbage White (Pieris rapae), Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa), Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis), Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma), and Gray Comma (Polygonia progne). One of the Gray Commas was nectaring at Fragrant Sumac (Rhus aromatica).