What’s Happening in the Wild

Above, during a downpour, northern rough-winged swallows take a break from swirling, diving and capturing airborne insects over the wetlands.

A fast shutter speed stopped the motion of raindrops in mid air.

If, while visiting the museum you park at the parking deck, stop and have a look at the flowers blooming along the path leading to the deck, you may see some interesting insects, including several species of butterfly.

American lady butterfly. Two large eyespots on hindwing are diagnostic.
Same butterfly showing upper surface of wing. White spot surrounded by orange on forewing helps distinguish this from similar painted lady butterfly.
A female monarch enjoys the nectar of purple coneflower. Note two pink spotted lady beetles on flower petals.
Silver-spotted skipper.

Over the past week I’ve been seeing dogbane beetles on their namesake plant along the path of the outdoor loop through Explore the Wild and Catch the Wind. The beetles are closely tied to dogbane. They eat the leaves of the plant. They mate and lay eggs on the plant. When the eggs hatch the larvae drop to the ground, burrow in and consume the roots of the plant. The following spring they emerge as adult beetles to start the cycle all over again.

Dogbane leaf beetle.

Glowworms are beetles in which the female retains the larval form into adulthood (larviform), it looks like a larva or grub. It does not have wings and can not fly as most adult beetles do. They can however, glow in the dark. The males do not glow, but can fly.

Glowworm beetle hurries across path.

Why do the females glow in the dark? It doesn’t seem to be mating related but may be some sort of defensive mechanism. The females emit pheromones which attract the males for mating. Judging by the elaborate antennae of the males (https://bugguide.net/node/view/292754/bgpage) this is what brings them to the dance floor, not the bright lights.

I spied an orange colored moth hanging from the tip of a red cedar bough next to the Red Wolf Enclosure. Looking at the upper wing surface I realized it was an orange-stripped oakworm moth. A white spot on the wing gave it away. As the name implies, the caterpillars of this moth consume oak leaves.

Orange colored moth.
White spot indicates orange-stripped oakworm moth.

Yellow passionflower is blooming along the trail near the path leading to the Lemur House. The blooms are small (about 1”) and inconspicuous so you’ll have to keep a sharp eye out for the yellow green flowers.

Small and inconspicuous, the yellow passionflower is native to our area.

A raccoon was caught out during the day feeling around in the mud and water at the edge of the pond in the wetlands. Frogs, tadpoles, fish, and crawfish, and just about anything else edible, is what these ubiquitous, omnivorous, and usually nocturnalis mammals seek.

Looking for grub.

1 response to What’s Happening in the Wild

  1. Avatar
    Lanier DeGrella says:

    Thanks to Greg for sharing his knowledge with me today! I really appreciated everything you showed me.

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