January 2, 2009
A sunny and relatively warm (47 F) day prompted me to take a short break from working on the butterfly and moth field guide to go for a walk. I searched a pipevine (Aristolochia sp.) for chrysalids; the vine fed dozens of Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) caterpillars during the summer. No luck with the butterflies, but I did find 2 praying mantis egg cases. Unfortunately, they both appeared to be Chinese mantids instead of native species.
Highlight of the day was a swarm of what appeared to be winter crane flies (Diptera Trichoceridae). I tried to catch one for a firm id, but the flies were much quicker than my hands. They look like small crane flies, but can be separated by the presence of ocelli on the winter crane flies. Larvae overwinter in decaying plant matter. Here are a couple of photos from a previous post.